SALEM — Ken Hodgkins is no stranger to success when it comes to tennis. The former Salem State University athlete played singles and doubles for the Division III Vikings for three seasons while also being named team captain and MVP during his senior year in 2013.
Now the Winthrop native is joining the Vikings once again after being named the men’s tennis head coach, as announced by Salem State Athletic Director Tracey Hathaway.
“It’s awesome,” Hodgkins said. “Once I was hired it felt like I was going back home. I’s a special place that I have always loved.
“One of my brothers went there, my younger brother is there now and actually plays tennis and my mother went there. It’s a family-engraved school for me and I’m looking forward to the being a part of it again.”
Hodgkins’ younger brother, Noah, is a rising junior at Salem State and Ken’s looking forward to the opportunity to coach him.
“We grew up playing against each other,” Hodgkins said. “I used to say ‘the younger brother will never win’ and that’s probably changed, I haven’t played with him in years. I’ve been watching him play all these years and watched him grow. I think he’s going to have a great year for us.”
Hodgkins most recently coached men’s and women’s tennis at Wentworth Institute of Technology and before that served as Winthrop High School girls tennis coach in 2016 and 2017. At Winthrop, Hodgkin was named the Northeastern Conference Coach of the Year in 2016 and led his team to a single-season program record for wins in 2017.
“I was fortunate enough to come from a town that maybe didn’t have the best tennis players but great athletes,” Hodgkins said. “You can always turn a great athlete into a great tennis player.”
While the tennis court may be where Hodgkins has had coaching success he says that he learned a lot about coaching as an assistant coach for girls hockey at Winthrop High School.
“My uncle, Butch Martucci is the girls hockey coach at Winthrop High and I was privileged to assist him,” Hodgkins said. “I learned so much about coaching with him even though it wasn’t necessarily tennis. I learned in general about game plans and right things to say and do with your players.”
Hodgkins also thanks his former coach during his time at Salem State, Joe Gallo, who has helped him throughout the years.
“I learned a lot from Joe Gallo even beyond my years at Salem State,” Hodgkins said. “He is and always will be a tool for me to reach out to.”
Overall, Hodgkins’ goals at Salem State are to maintain a winning program that took home a MASCAC conference championship last year.
“I’m just trying to continue the success that Salem State has had,” Hodgkins said. “It’s a very strong team. I really want to deliver another conference championship and I think we can do that right away with the talent we have.
“I coached last year at WIT and we played them and I got to see Salem State firsthand,” Hodgkins added. “My brother has been on the team so that’s a connection where I know who a lot of these guys are. It’s not going to be handed to us. They know they have to work hard and if I can get them doing that and motivated to win another championship we should be successful.”