Game, Set, Match: A look into the coaching styles of Tom Kay


Coach Tom Kay beside former player Kate Bird at the 2018 tennis banquet. The banquet is held annually at Glen Oaks Golf Course.

Kate Bird, Staff Writer

Talk about dedication, boys and girls Farmington High School tennis coach, Tom Kay, has been coaching at the school for over a decade mentoring new players and shaping their skills.

Before getting certified “to become a tennis teaching pro” as Kay put it, he spent years accumulating his abilities,  first by playing casually with his brothers, then taking group lessons, and eventually studying the sport itself.

“I became a coach at FHS in 2008. So, by the time that I took that position I had thirty years of experience,” said Kay.

Namratha Bujala is one senior that Kay taught.

“TK has taught me playing smart is just as important as playing hard; that definitely made me a better player,” Bujala noted.

As his players’ skills develop, so does Kay’s expectations for them.

“JV freshman year was really fun and games; tennis wasn’t as serious,” Bujala observed. “But now it’s work hard and play hard.”

TK, as his student-athletes call him, works hard to ensure that both his guys and girls teams, regardless of their level or experience, are treated fairly.

“I don’t think gender plays a role in the way I coach male and female players. The biggest difference in coaching boys and girls is mostly a matter of their approach to the game. Boys are more aggressive with their shots and attack more. Girls play a more intellectual game, looking to win points with good placement,” Kay said.

Despite how the different genders approach the game, Kay noticed that “boys and girls all need to have the proper skills to play the game.”

“Coaching is about improving that skill level and, at the same time, teaching the concepts of teamwork and sportsmanship that students will need in everything they do in life,” he said.

While he works diligently to shape his players into successful athletes who are good representatives of their school both through their wins and honesty in the game, TK also knows how to engage his players socially and have a good time.

“He gets us food and ice cream a lot,” mentioned Bujala, “and my favorite memory with TK was at practice when I missed a shot and he just looked at me and both of us laughed so much at how I missed such an easy shot.”

Kay’s favorite memory, on the other hand, was back in 2017 when boys Varsity player Manuel Yeh beat a number four seed at Mattawan High School when he wasn’t favored to win.

“Manuel finally broke through in the tiebreaker to win the set and the match!  The crowd erupted in loud cheers as the final point concluded, and everyone in the stadium gave Manny and the Mattawan player a standing ovation! It was definitely the best high school tennis match I ever witnessed,” Kay said.

His now 22 seasons of teaching tennis has taught Kay a great deal of patience but he also said that “sometimes I think the students teach me more than I teach them,” and said that all-in-all, “the most rewarding part about coaching is watching the development of the student-athletes.”