February 8, 2023
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Lakeside’s Hewitt caps coaching career with county honor | Local News

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Clark Hewitt recently called it a career coaching tennis.

The former Lakeside boys and girls coach was given quite a retirement gift — being selected Ashtabula County Coach of the Year for the 2022 season.

“I was stunned,” said Hewitt, who began helping as a coach in 1997. “My guys really came through.”

The Dragons finished the season with 15-4 overall, 6-2 Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division mark.

Lakeside took second in the county tournament and won the CVC Valley along with Perry.

“This team was a very special, hard-working group,” Hewitt said. “A very dedicated group of amazing young men. It was a pleasure to be with them each day.”

With six returners entering the 2022 season, Hewitt said the players realized it could be a special year.

“Joe Varckette and Michael Paulchel, my two captains, gave me good leadership,” Hewitt said. “They complement each other. I have known them since kindergarten and it was a pleasure to watch them grow into the people they are today.”

Varckette finished with a 19-7 mark and won the county first-singles title.

He was selected co-county player of the year with Jefferson’s Jensen Yarosh.

Paulchel notched a 28-16 record over two seasons.

Freshman Jack Varckette (16-9) emerged at third singles.

Ty Hamilton and Matthew Surbella formed a strong first-doubles team, and ended the season at 21-3.

“Jack played a lot in the summer ladder,” Hewitt said. “Playing against his brother [Joe] helped. Matt, a sophomore, and Ty, a junior, told me they wanted to play doubles, and formed a strong team.”

The second doubles team was a work in progress.

Junior Andrew McKee and sophomore Sergio Lozano ended up taking the reigns at that spot and ended up at 15-4.

Sophomore Owen Meaney and freshman Taylor Williams also provided depth.

“It was a total team effort,” Hewitt said. “Players stepped up.”

In the Division I sectional tournament, Joe Varckette won a match at singles.

Of course, the

coaches and those

associated with Lakeside also deserved the credit, according to Hewitt.

“[Assistant coach and former Lakeside player] Spencer Selman was instrumental in what we did and coach [Maureen] Surbella … I couldn’t have done it without them,” Hewitt said. “[Lakeside Athletic Director] Sean Allgood was also very supportive.”

Hewitt played for the legendary coach Bob Walters at Ashtabula High School.

He was Walters’ assistant coach for 24 years, and the Dragons’ girls and boys head coach the last two.

“I can’t give Bob enough credit,” Hewitt said. “He’s a good mentor and very close friend.”

Senior Joe Varckette was glad to have Hewitt as his coach.

“Coach Hewitt, I’ve known him my whole life,” Varckette said. “He’s an extremely hard worker at what he does. He helps us with whatever we want.”

When Hewitt

accepted the head coaching position, he thought he could give the program one to four years.

“It depended on what my wife was doing,” he said. “She decided to retire. It was a tough decision, but the time is right. The kids made me proud.”

The Hewitts are expected to travel across the country, do projects and have fun during retirement.

“I’m going to work on restoring a classic automobile, and work on my surfing and kayaking,” Hewitt said.

Hewitt said he’s looking forward to the next stage.

“I taught 36 years in the schools,” he said. “I have a lot of good memories. I’d like to thank the people I’ve coached against. I can’t say enough about the parents. I greatly enjoyed the interaction with the parents. This happens more in tennis than most other sports.

“A big thank you to my guys for giving me the best going away present possible.”

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