Family, friends, former coaches and teammates gathered Saturday at the regional high school tennis courts to honor and remember tennis coach Kevin Lewis who died in November.

Coach K, as everyone called him, grew up in Oak Bluffs and after a career coaching high school tennis in Maryland, returned to the Island and became the boys team head coach during its 2021 season. In his one year with the team, Coach K led them to an undefeated regular season and a south sectional championship.

Athletic director Mark McCarthy, a friend of Mr. Lewis since they were children, opened the ceremony by remembering their days at Niantic Park or “the Park” as everyone called it, he said. He told a story about Mr. Lewis often wearing a shirt as a kid that said “Cool K.”

“He went from Cool K to Coach K,” Mr. McCarthy said

First singles player Jacob Riis spoke about how much Coach K meant to the team, as a coach and a person, and how big a loss his death was to the community.

Jacob Riis with the family of Kevin Lewis at the unveiling of the memorial plaque. — Tim Johnson

The rest of the team responded to his comments by calling out in unison, “Dig it, Dig it,” echoing a favorite phrase of Mr. Lewis.

A plaque in Mr. Lewis’s honor was unveiled that now hangs at the courts. Then Mr. Lewis’s daughter, Breannah Lewis, who had traveled from Boston to be at the ceremony, thanked the crowd. She was joined by Mr. Lewis’s sister Amy Landers, along with several nieces and nephews.

“This means the world to us,” Breannah Lewis said. “He loved working with kids. He always saw the potential in them.”

Later she talked about the loss.

“We are still processing it in different ways but we have each other,” she said. “And it helps knowing that during his last year of life my father was living his best life, being back on the Island and coaching tennis here.”

Following the ceremony, a double header of high school tennis began, with the boys and girls teams taking on Dover-Sherborn high school. By coincidence, Dover-Sherborn was the last team Mr. Lewis coached against in last year’s Division 3 semifinal, state championship match.

Teagan Myers sets up a shot at first doubles. — Tim Johnson

The boys team took their 10-1 record to the courts (their one loss a defeat to Dover-Sherborn earlier in the season). The team is now coached by Jonathan Bates, a longtime tennis player and coach (he was the pro at the West Chop club in the 1980s) who had recently retired to the Island. Mr. Bates was approached while playing tennis at the Vineyard Family Tennis courts, where most of the teams’ players grew up learning the game, and asked if he would step in following the death of Mr. Lewis.

“This is such a great group of kids,” he said, while watching intently from the sidelines.

The boys team fought hard but eventually lost 3-2, notching wins at first singles and second doubles.

Then the girls team took the courts to try and extend their undefeated 13-0 record against a tough Dover-Sherborn team. The team recently received a late season boost at practice and on the sideline with the return of Kelly Klaren to the Island, home from college where she plays on the tennis team for Florida Southern College. Ms. Klaren was part of a powerhouse girls tennis team dynasty that won five consecutive state championships, anchoring the first singles position for the last two championships. She will help out head coach Bill Rigali for the rest of the season.

Girls team extended their undefeated season on Saturday, beating Dover-Sherborn 3-2. — Tim Johnson

“I’ve been missing being with the girls but I have been keeping up on them,” she said as the match began. “They have such depth which is so important for high school tennis.”

Her main piece of advice to the players, she said, is to stick to the basics.

“It is such a mental game and so I tell them to think about just getting the ball back one more time. And then get it back one more time. That’s it,” she said.

The girls were pushed to their mental and physical limit by Dover-Sherborn, with nearly every match going to three sets. Late in the afternoon the teams were tied 2-2, with wins from first singles Hunter Tompkins and second singles Cali Giglio.

Cali Giglio serves at second singles. — Tim Johnson

Everything then came down to the first doubles match, where a large group of fans had gathered to watch Andrea Morse and Tessa Hammond battle it out in three sets. Morse and Hammond prevailed, extending the team’s record to 14-0.

“It was our best win of the season,” Coach Rigali said after the match. “The girls really came back under pressure.”

He continued: “And it was a special atmosphere out there. So many people involved in Island tennis were at the courts to cheer the boys and girls teams on, and to honor Coach Lewis.”

More pictures.