Naples Daily News | by Adam Fisher | April 22, 2021
Tony Kamen didn’t have much of a career as a tennis player. Four years of high school tennis and one year at junior college, and that was it.
But as a coach, Kamen has led players and teams to heights he never reached. He has a knack for helping young players improve and getting the best of them. Those coaching skills manifested in three state championships for the Naples High School boys tennis team.
Now Kamen will be enshrined alongside the best high school coaches of all sports in state history. Recently the longtime Golden Eagles coach learned he has been picked for the Florida High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame.
“No matter what level a kid is at, I’ve always enjoyed watching them get better and improve their tennis skills,” Kamen said. “I love the camaraderie that comes with being on a team and the life lessons it teaches.”
Kamen, 57, has coached the Naples boys tennis team for 22 years. He led the Eagles to three consecutive state titles from 2002-04. Also in Kamen’s tenure Naples has won nine district and seven regional championships.
Before Kamen took over the program in 1999, the Naples boys had won just two district titles and no regional or state titles.
Kamen is the fifth person from Naples High School elected to the FHSAA Hall of Fame. Former softball coach Robert Iamurri (elected 2011), former girls basketball coach Dave Walker (2012), former football coach Bill Kramer (2017) and current athletic director Ernie Modugno (2019) also received the honor.
The FHSAA will officially announce its Hall of Fame Class of 2021 on Monday, but Kamen was notified last week. He’ll be honored at the 31st Hall of Fame induction ceremony Sept. 26 in Gainesville.
“Your contributions to the advancement of high school athletics in the state of Florida are deeply appreciated by the entire membership of the association,” FHSAA Hall of Fame director Ashton Moseley wrote in a letter informing Kamen of the honor.
Growing up near Miami, Kamen didn’t take up tennis until he was about 13 years old. He played four years at Hialeah-American Senior before one season at Broward Community College.
Kamen moved to Naples around 1994 and taught tennis at a few local clubs. He joined the Collier County Public School system 25 years ago and now works as a teacher in alternative education.
“In addition to his many on-court accomplishments, Tony Kamen has been a real game changer off the court,” said Modugno, the Naples AD who hired Kamen. “He has been a leader, a mentor, a clinician, and a highly-respected individual in the Florida high school tennis community.”
Among his contributions to the game, Kamen was a founding member of the Florida High School Tennis Coaches Association and served as its first vice president. With the group, Kamen helped create the FHSTCA All-Star tournament.
In 2017, Kamen was an inaugural inductee into the FHSTCA Hall of Fame. He previously has been named national tennis coach of the year by the National High School Coaches Association.
Kamen said he was shocked by the latest honor. He added that he was appreciative of Modugno, who nominated Kamen for the FHSAA Hall of Fame, and the rest of the Naples High administration for all their support.
“I was overwhelmed with joy (when I found out),” Kamen said. “I couldn’t believe it. It’s super exciting.
“I’ve had a lot of help along the way. Naples High School has been great. Mr. Modugno is easy to work with and always supportive. I’ve also had a great core of parents and volunteers who have helped the program.”
Image: Andrew Sodergren, Naples Daily News (modified)