When Lauren Jones-Spencer started playing tennis for BYU back in 2003, she wasn’t the first in the line of Jones family BYU student athletes. She wouldn’t be the last, either.
Her dad, Marshall Jones, played football during his freshman year at BYU, and Jones-Spencer, now the women’s tennis head coach, is coaching her younger sister, Mayci Jones.
To make four Cougar athletes in the Jones family, Another of Jones-Spencer’s sisters, McCall, played tennis for BYU from 2008 to 2010 before transferring to UCLA. The move from southern California to Provo has almost become a right of passage for the family.
Jones-Spencer was an all star at BYU from 2003 to 2007, where she had an 85–51 career singles record and went 81–35 in doubles. After graduating from BYU in 2007 in graphic design, she stuck around and became the assistant coach of the women’s tennis team in 2008. Two years later she got the head coaching job, and in 2014 she was named West Coast Conference coach of the year.
Excellence seems to be a theme for the sisters: as a freshman last year, Mayci Jones competed at first singles and led the Cougars to take the No. 2 spot in the West Coast Conference. She recently competed in the doubles competition at the ITA All-American Championships with teammate and fellow sophomore Toby Miclat.
Mayci says her decision to come to BYU was heavily influenced by the fact that Jones-Spencer would be her coach.
“My whole life I always wanted to go to UCLA because it was close to home, and it’s California, and that’s where I’m from, but my sister got the head coaching position, and that made my decision pretty clear,” she said.
It also didn’t hurt to have family also away from home when she came to college.
“I have Lauren’s house to go to on Sundays and all the time for meals, and just a friend, on and off the court, so that’s nice. I’m never lonely,” Mayci Jones said.
Mayci Jones said she has learned much from Jones-Spencer about life and tennis.
“I’ve kind of learned (from Lauren) to never give up, because you always have a chance in college tennis,” she said. “Even if you’re down 0–4 or you’re down in the third set tiebreaker, you can always come back.”
The sisters look to each other for the ends of their sentences. Jones-Spencer said she has learned similar things about attitude and will power from Mayci Jones.
“Mayci has a lot of talent,” she said. “Mayci can do whatever she wants to do if she sets her mind to it. So I’ve just kind of learned from her as a player that she’s strong-willed and she can do what she wants to do, so she has unlimited potential and talent.”
That strong will is bound to come in handy this year, as Mayci Jones begins her second season at No. 1 in singles. Jones-Spencer said playing first singles as a freshman is no cake walk but that Mayci Jones has a good season under her belt to lead her into this year.
Jones-Spencer seems to have transitioned seamlessly into the coaching role, and she has become the family’s tennis mentor.
“It’s definitely different to be on the sidelines coaching versus playing,” she said. “I prefer to play; I loved playing here at BYU, but it’s fun to still be a part of the college tennis team aspect, and I love to be able to help the girls.”
She continued, “I got to coach McCall, and that was a lot of fun, and she did really well when she was here at BYU. Even when she went to UCLA, she would call me up and ask me for help … but Mayci, she’s the baby, and I’m the oldest, so we have the biggest age gap. It’s fun to be able to travel and watch her play and be able to help her through her college experience.”
Even though Mayci Jones is the youngest Jones sister, there might be hope for the dominant tennis
line to continue, with Jones-Spencer’s 14-month-old daughter, Presley, who she says shows some interest in tennis.
“She likes to watch tennis. She watches it on TV, which is kind of weird,” Jones-Spenxer said. “She likes tennis balls and racquets, so we’ll see.”