Kevin Lewis remembered by tennis team

Team holds memorial ceremony for beloved coach.

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The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) boys tennis team held a memorial ceremony in honor of their former coach, Kevin Lewis, who passed away in November, at Ned Fennessy Courts in Oak Bluffs. Lewis’ family members, friends, and former team members were also in attendance on the sunny Saturday morning. 

“The team definitely wanted to take some time to recognize Kevin and what he did for them when he was here,” MVRHS athletics director Mark McCarthy said to begin the ceremony. 

McCarthy also shared a few memories of Lewis, whom he grew up with on the Island. “You never saw Kevin where he wasn’t sweating. He was playing either tennis and then going to play basketball and back to tennis,” he said. 

Lewis’ love of tennis, which was passed down from his parents, led him to reach out to McCarthy, wondering if there was a coaching position available at MVRHS. McCarthy said this was right when they were transitioning coaching staff, and Lewis got the job.

“Dig that!” the audience cried out in response, sharing a catchphrase Lewis often used.

A plaque was made in honor of Lewis, which MVRHS junior Jacob Riis presented to the former coach’s family, and spoke about what the loss has meant to the community. “The impact he had on us was not just as tennis players, but as young men. One year ago, when we played against this team and lost,” Riis said, referring to the Dover-Sherborn High School tennis team, “he said to me, ‘I just want to know if you’re willing to work with me these next few years we have together to get to a higher level,’ and I like to think that he still is, and … it just really meant a lot to me. So, ‘Dig that!’ and thank you.”

“I just want to say thank you so, so much. It means the world to all of us, so thank you so much,” Breannah Conward-Lewis, Lewis’ daughter, said to those present.

McCarthy also expressed gratitude toward the Dover-Sherborn tennis team for attending the ceremony. Dover-Sherborn was the last team Lewis faced as a tennis coach. 

After the ceremony, Conward-Lewis talked to The Times about her father. She said Lewis was born in Boston, but grew up on Martha’s Vineyard, and spent a lot of his time on the Island. 

“He was really well-connected, has a lot of Island friends, and has been on the Island pretty much since he was born,” she said. 

Prior to moving back onto the Island in November 2020, Lewis was living in Maryland coaching at local schools, and trying to get a tennis coaching business running. However, Conward-Lewis thinks moving back to the Island allowed her father “an opportunity for him to do the work he loved” and “live his best life.” 

“Coming back here, where he could officially be a tennis coach for the same high school he graduated from, I think, gave him more peace than anything, honestly,” she said. “I think his last year of his life was the best year of his life, for sure.” 

Additionally, watching Lewis during the final year of his life made “you realize the importance of doing the things you love and doing them as early as you can, and I think if he could have been a tennis coach his whole career, he definitely would have been,” Conward-Lewis said. 

The death of Lewis was tough for the family. Conward-Lewis said the loss was particularly hard on her grandmother. 

“My grandmother has lost both her sons, which has been really difficult. We wish more than anything she could’ve been here today, but she’s just not doing too well with her mobility. She’s still nonetheless excited the high school put all of this together,” Conward-Lewis told The Times. 

The ceremony was followed by the Vineyarders’ varsity tennis matches against Dover-Sherborn. The boys went on to lose to Dover-Sherborn for the second time this season. After losing a month ago by a score of 4-1, the Vineyard team lost the rematch on their home courts by a score of 3-2. Both teams were missing key players due to injury or illness. Vineyard wins were recorded by Jacob Riis at No. 1 singles, and by Ben Belisle with Kyle Levy at No. 2 doubles. Clyde Smith and Kert Kleeman were defeated by their D-S opponents at second and third singles respectively, and Teagan Myers and Caleb Dubin lost a close three-set match at No. 1 doubles.