The Lyne Tussey Story




By Rena Baer

If you are ever on the court with Lyne Tussey, you can’t help but be awed by her game. She’ll lure you in with a drop shot, and the next thing you know, a lob will be gently sailing over your head, just out of your reach and, most likely, your partner’s. And then there’s her economy with movement and the smooth strokes that make her game look almost effortless, not to mention the perpetual grin and ready laugh that tell you there aren’t too many places she’d rather be.

The tennis court has been a second home to Tussey since she was a young teenager growing up in Louisville in the 1950s. Her dad, who did not play tennis but was very athletic, believed all kids should be involved in sports. With a 10-page booklet in hand on how to play tennis, he put a racket in his daughter’s hand and taught her how to play – and, apparently, how to win.

Tussey played junior tournaments throughout her teenage years, racking up her fair share of victories. Her father, meanwhile became emmeshed in the sport, getting involved and taking the game to some of the state’s smaller cities as president of the Kentucky Tennis Association.

“Even though he didn’t play, he just loved it,” she said. “He even got my mom involved.”

It was only during college and the early years of her marriage that her racket gathered dust. “I don’t think my husband even knew I played tennis when we got married,” she said.

With her husband’s job, they moved around a lot, and she found herself missing the game. While living in Kansas City in the early 1970s, she decided to start playing again. She knew the best way to do that at the time was to take a lesson from a pro, who could get her connected to the tennis community. Well that, and all the players hanging around the courts who noticed that the newcomer had game.

“I still had my strokes,” she said with a grin. “Those never go away.”

When they moved to Philadelphia, Tussey immediately joined a league, making the transition to the Northeast much easier. “If you can play tennis, you have an instant pack of friends,” she said. “And tennis people are great people.”

When she and her family moved back to Kentucky, it was Lexington where the landed. Back on her home state turf, with the roots already planted, she had no trouble picking up where she had left off, going to Southern sectionals three times with her 4.5 team. Her interest in tennis led not only to teaching it but also eventually to her jobs with Parks & Rec and at the former Bluegrass Racquet Club and then at Lexington Tennis Club for 35 years.

“Tennis has opened so many doors for me,” Tussey said. “It really is the sport of a lifetime.”

One of the best things that has happened with the sport is the advent of USTA league play, she said. “It has expanded the sport, from little kids to all levels to seniors,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you are a 2.5 or a 4.5, you can play competitively.”

Though Tussey gave up league play over a decade ago, she is still out on the court two or three times a week.

“At 77, I can’t play like I used to, but I still enjoy it,” she said.

And so does everyone who has the pleasure of being on the court with her.