Tommy Kim Shares His Journey With Naval Academy Recruitment


When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many athletes were thrown into a slump, unable to practice due to training facility closures. Senior Tommy Kim, however, found himself thriving as he practiced in any place he could find, from parking lots to schools, going so far as Texas tennis courts.

“I started [playing tennis] when I was 8 years old,” said Kim. “At the time, my parents were throwing me into different sports, really just trying to see what stuck — what I was good at. […] I really did a lot better in tennis compared to other sports. I started playing more, started liking it because I was winning.”

The quarantine lockdown meant that Kim could not access many tennis courts during the early stages of the pandemic. He would try to find as many available tennis courts as possible with his father, often driving to Santa Cruz, where the laws were less restrictive. Kim and his father also found spaces in parks or schools where they could practice, despite being ejected by authorities on many occasions. Kim temporarily moved to Texas during the summer as a last resort, to ensure that he could practice. 

“I was able to hit with a lot more people, and I didn’t have to find an empty parking lot, I could hit on actual courts with actual nets,” said Kim. “So that’s how I improved a lot — I improved a lot over COVID, especially compared to my peers, because they were stuck over here trying to do their own thing while I was in Texas just getting better.”

Kim went through the recruitment process after his sophomore year. Said Kim, “My process was actually pretty simple because I knew which school I wanted to go to. I wanted to go to the Naval Academy.” Kim contacted the coaches of the United States Naval Academy, and they watched him play at two major tournaments in the summer. After keeping in contact with him throughout 2021, Kim verbally committed to the Naval Academy in the December of his junior year. 

“I wanted to be in a community where the main goal is service. You’re trying to serve others, and you’re trying to serve your country,” said Kim. “I think the Naval Academy and any other military academy is different, where everyone is acting as a group, acting together instead of trying to further their own self-interests.”

Kim especially felt pressure externally when playing in major tournaments during the recruiting process. 

“The best state of mind to be in is to be focusing on improvements and how play the best instead of focusing on winning,” said Kim. “Because when you’re focusing on winning, winning is something that you have fifty percent control of — maybe less — but 50 percent at most because you’re playing it with another person. So you can’t control winning. And when you focus on that, it all goes downhill.”

Kim will be majoring in Computer Science at the Naval Academy, but he may decide to switch depending on his future workload. 

“The Naval Academy is just a time crunch the whole time because you have so many military obligations to do as well as. For me, I’m going to have the tennis team obligations, so I’m going to be traveling, and have to do a bunch of physical activities and march at parades. I actually have to go to football games — that’s required,” Kim said.

For coverage on other recent athletic recruits: