Spencer Selman’s start into tennis started as a challenge.
“In the freshman year [at Lakeside], my best friend, David Carlton said there were only seven kids going out,” he said. “He told me to come to practice and if I could be better than one person, we can play doubles.”
Selman parlayed that moment in playing four years for the Dragons.
The journey is continuing as Selman is the new Lakeside girls and boys tennis coach.
“It’s ultimately something I’ve wanted to do,” he said of coaching. “I want to share with people and be able to educate I’m passionate about.”
Clark Hewitt retired after the 2022 spring boys season. Selman had been coaching the Lakeside Junior High program.
“His intention was that I’d take over,” Selman said. “I felt the interview went well.”
Selman played for the legendary Bob Walters, graduating in 2017, and learned from both men.
“The family aspect is what I’ll take from them,” Selman said. “Tennis is an individual sport, but you’re also playing for the team. We want to compete and have a safe, fun space.”
Walters is a member of the Ohio Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame, and Hewitt spent 26 years with the program.
Still, Selman desires to create his own legacy.
“It’s a new chapter for the school,” Selman said. “It’s kind of a changing of the guard.”
With the girls’ season starting next week, Selman has been working with the squad.
“We lost four seniors, but have some people coming up to fill the holes,” he said. “We only have one senior, so it will be nice to have the whole team for two years. I’ve gotten to work with the girls in the junior high program.”
Selman cited sophomore Ary Toh and freshman Layla Jones as players to watch for in the girls season.
Lakeside is scheduled to open the season Wednesday at Perry.
“That’s the standard we want to be,” Selman said.
The new coach has already added nuances to the team.
“We’re doing a lot more conditioning.” Salman said. “We’ve been in the weight room, something that is often overlooked in tennis.
“We want to build that endurance. Playing three matches in a day is tough. We want to get in the next gear.”
Michelle Toth and Maureen Surbella are assisting Selman.
Once Selman took to the court his freshman season, he didn’t stop with the sport.
“I wanted to get as good as I could as fast as I could,” he said. “I’d stay after practice and hit. My mom wasn’t too happy when she came to pick me up.
“I tried to play catch-up, so I had to work harder.”
After graduation, Selman earned a bachelor’s degree in December 2021 in English, taking classes online and attending various Kent State campuses, admitting the coronavirus pandemic.
He is currently a substitute teacher in the Ashtabula Area City School system.
Selman comes from an athletic family.
Robert Selman, his father, reached the state tennis tournament at doubles in 1991 while in Geneva.
Selman’s siblings also attended Geneva.
Gabbi, his sister, reached the state tournament in pole vault, placing seventh in 2022. She is planning on attending Youngstown State starting in the fall for school and to pole vault.
Caleb, Selman’s brother, was a state wrestling qualifier.