Done with the pen, not the racquet

Tennis coach Ken Clow has retired from teaching but is still coaching both girls and boys tennis

By Matthew Owens

For the past 29 years, Ken Clow has been balancing geometry in the mornings and serving tennis balls in the afternoon. Now, he’s turned to just focus on tennis.

“When they moved geometry entirely to the middle school, I was going to have to learn something new,” boys and girls varsity tennis coach Ken Clow said. ”With the new laptops, it would make it more difficult. So that means that I had two things to learn. Anytime I coach I get exhausted, especially when I am teaching.”

Coach Clow had been teaching math and coaching the girls tennis team at Northwest for 29 years and coaching the boys tennis team for 15 years.

“I thought whenever somebody retired they died right away,” Clow said.” I wanted to have something to do. I didn’t know if my body would hold up playing tennis every day. As of right now I am playing every day.”

Clow played three years of high school tennis in Ottumwa, Iowa and four years of college tennis at Northeast Mo. State University (now Truman University).

“I wanted to coach tennis because I played high school and college tennis,” Clow said. “I thought I could help the kids playing the game of tennis.”

The team is happy that when Ken retired from teaching he still wanted to coach the tennis team.

“I am happy he is still coaching because he knows what he is doing and teaches us well,” senior co-captain Nill Patel said.”He is very encouraging, helpful and comes up with clever jokes.”

Players like Clow’s relaxed personality both on and off the court.

“I am glad Clow is still coaching,” senior Kyler Akagi said.” He’s an easy going and personable guy. The best part of his personality is that he likes to tell jokes. Sometimes you think he’s telling a serious story or describing tough competition, but then he will get you with the punchline.”

Clow’s coaching style is different from other coaches in the way that he is always  relaxed and calm.

“He is very much like a teacher in the way he coaches,” senior co-captain Jack Wells said. “He can be serious, but also jokes around sometimes like one one of the guys.  He is very laid back and very knowledgeable about tennis.”

The game has changed since Clow began coaching in 1986.

“The strokes now are a lot different,” Clow said.”There is more topspin now and it seems like the top players can hit winning shots from anywhere on the court. When I played you never hit a winner behind the baseline.”

Clow’s favorite part of about coaching tennis isn’t winning, it is the players he coaches.

“Coaching very well behaved fun-loving kids ,” Clow said. “They are a pleasure to be around.”