Ware caps sensational KWU career earning several postseason honors

Bryce Ware had a simple goal when he signed with Kansas Wesleyan three years ago.

“I wanted to play tennis for another four years and get a degree,” he said. “That was the big goal. All that extra hard work that I put in on top of it, seeing all the awards come in, is really nice.”

Three years later and a business management degree with a 4.0 grade average in hand Ware departs as the most decorated and one of, if not the best student-athlete, to play the sport at KWU.

Ware capped a sensational spring season with a trove of awards.

  • Kansas Conference’s Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
  • First Team NAIA All-American after earning Second Team honors in 2023.
  • College Sports Communicators NAIA Men’s Tennis First Team Academic All-America ® honors for the second consecutive season.
  • Most Improved Player in the ITA Central Region – an honor that recognizes career achievement.
  • Recipient of the prestigious ITA Arthur Ashe Jr. Leadership and Sportsmanship Award.

On the court Ware posted a 121-30 career record and is ranked in the top 10 in singles play the ITA and top 40 in doubles with partner and classmate Alex Sherer.

Ware becomes the first male back-to-back recipient of CSC Academic All-America ® honors in school history and the second student-athlete all-time (Kamie Rash, At-Large (Women’s Golf), 2014 and 2015) to achieve the honor.

Ware, who was largely ignored coming out Canyon High School in Canyon, Texas, said it was not a one-man show.

“Kansas Wesleyan was great to me,” he said. “The university as a whole gave me all the resources I needed to succeed off the court and on the court. All the coaches I’ve had have been great – Brian (Vancuren) this year, Coach (Josh) Molino the first two years, and Shingi (former Coyote player Shingi Chingaya) my freshman year who was a volunteer assistant. All those guys came together and helped me get to where I wanted to be.

“It was a lot of hard work and I’ve got to thank my teammates for being there and pushing me every day. Everybody made it a lot easier for me to succeed and get up to the level that I am at now.”

Ware was 29-5 in singles play, 10-0 against KCAC opponents, this spring. In doubles he and Sherer were 9-1 in the conference and 22-4 overall.

Ware finished 10th in the ITA Cup last fall in Rome, Georgia after finishing second in the Central West Regional in Salina.

Vancuren, who replaced Molino last summer, worked with Ware for three years – the first two as Molino’s assistant.

“He knew if he wanted to achieve a goal he had to go get it, it wasn’t just going to be handed to him,” he said. “He’s done everything he’s been able to do by earning it. I’ve seen Bryce from his freshman year and where he was player-wise to now. He’s meant a great deal to this program.”

Vancuren said Ware constantly sought to prove he could play after mostly being snubbed out of high school.

“He’s always had that chip on the shoulder that he wanted more than he was given the chance to do,” Vancuren said. “Nobody would take a look at him when it came to the recruiting process so he’s used it as motivation moving forward.”

The Ashe Award is presented to student-athletes who have exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and leadership as well as scholastic, extracurricular and tennis achievements.

Ware was active in the Salina community on several fronts.

“When I got to Salina the community helped me out a lot,” he said. “It made me feel at home, feel welcomed and really helped me thrive and grow into the player and the athlete that I wanted to be.

“I felt like I had no reason not to give back to the community as much as I can. Even if it was something as small as sitting outside the basketball game for a food drive or go teach the kids about Jesus on a Wednesday night. Just doing something like that trying to give back to the community just to show how grateful I am for what they did for me.”

Ware credits Molino, now an assistant at the University of Tulsa, and former KWU player and Chingayafor emphasizing the importance of community service.

“It really got hammered home my freshman year,” Ware said. “Molino got on us about it, told us how lucky we are, how fortunate we are to be in this situation and it kind of instilled in us that we need to give back because they’ve done so much for us.”

“I give a lot of credit to Shingi for helping out with that mindset but also Bryce for taking the bull by the horns and just going with it,” Vancuren said. “It’s not always the things that you want to do, it’s some things you need to do. That’s what has helped him become the person he is today.”

Ware plans to attend graduate school at Tulsa in the fall and play his final season of college tennis for Molino, head coach Vince Westbrook and the Golden Hurricane.

“The goal is to get my MBA in business analytics so I’ve kind of looked at jobs in that realm,” he said. “Just looking at numbers trying to make decisions for businesses – stuff I learned about at Wesleyan that kind of piqued my interest.

“For now, I’m just looking to get in shape and be ready to go for the next big level.”