Tom Lilly is in his 17th full season at the helm of Creighton’s women’s and men’s tennis programs. He leads the Bluejays into their first season in the BIG EAST Conference in 2014. Lilly has been a part of Bluejay tennis for 25 years. He spent five years as a player, redshirting one season and later served three years as an assistant coach for both teams.
He took over as interim head coach in the spring of 1997. Lilly was later named head coach of both the men’s and women’s teams at the end of that season.
Despite losing senior captain Billy Paluch to an injury early in the season at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles, Lilly directed the men's team to a 7-11 mark in the 2012-13 season and finished sixth in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC).
Seniors Ryan Norman and Sean Mathison each earned MVC Scholar-Athlete Awards at the end of the season. In addition, freshman Quinn Dippel claimed the MVC Men’s Tennis Athlete of the Week honor in April.
The Creighton tennis teams combined to lead the nation by claiming 15 individual academic awards from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) after the 2012-13 season.
On the annual spring break trip to Florida, the men's team split four matches at 2-2 and is now 21-5 all-time under Lilly in the Sunshine State since 2002. Lilly holds a 146-196 overall record in 16 completed seasons at the helm of the men's team.
Lilly has 317 coaching victories during his campaign coaching both men's and women's tennis. He earned his 300th victory during a 7-0 sweep of UNO by the men’s team on Apr. 12, 2012.
He also had success coaching MVC All-Conference players, coaching eight MVC All-Conference women's players and four men's players, including Billy Paluch in 2012.
As a player, Lilly racked up 128 victories, which is good for third on the Creighton all-time career wins list. Sixty-four of his wins came in singles play, placing him fifth on the all-time singles charts. The other half of his wins came in doubles, a number that ties him for the all-time lead on the Creighton charts. In his first two years Lilly held down the No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles positions.
As a sophomore, he tied the school record for the most combined wins at the singles and doubles positions with 39. He also holds the school record for the most doubles wins in a season at the No. 2 position with 18 wins. Lilly was voted the team’s Most Improved Player both as a freshman and sophomore.
After sitting out a season as a medical redshirt, Lilly returned for his junior and senior seasons. He competed at the No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles positions both years and is in the school record books at both positions. At the No. 1 singles position, he finished second in school history with 18 wins during his senior season.
As a junior, Lilly broke the school record at the No. 1 doubles position with 17 wins (he later coached Billy Paluch and J.T. Christian to a new record of 21 wins during the 2009-2010 season). He was the team’s captain in his final two seasons and was voted the Most Valuable Player as a junior. He graduated from Creighton in 1993 with a degree in theology.
For his collegiate accomplishments, Lilly was named to the MVC All-Centennial Team in 2007. He was the only male player from Creighton selected to the team and coached the only Bluejay women's player on the list, Katie Chiw.
During the summer months, Lilly also serves as the head tennis professional at Oak Hills Country Club in Omaha. He is married to former Bluejay tennis player Jean (Fougeron) Lilly, who serves as the assistant coach for the women’s squad. The couple has a 13-year-old son, TJ, and a nine-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn Elise.