Minicozzi leaves an indelible impact on LaGrange High tennis

Published 8:30 am Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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Wesley Minicozzi enjoyed quite the stint with LaGrange High tennis. The class of 2024 graduate is saying goodbye to competitive tennis and Georgia as he prepares for life at Clemson University. As he winds down his final weeks here in LaGrange, for the time being at least, Minicozzi can’t help but look back on his career on the court with the Grangers.

It started as you might expect. Minicozzi was a scrawny freshman trying to cut his teeth alongside some veteran members of the team. Minicozzi worked his way up the totem pole and was the team’s no. 1 men’s singles player during his junior and senior seasons.

He got his first taste of no. 1 singles action as a sophomore. It was a trial by fire as Minicozzi went up against more physical and older opponents. It was a good learning experience for the youngster, who turned those jaded nerves on their heads over the next couple of years.

“I was terrified my sophomore year going into my first no. 1 singles match because durimy whole freshman year I played every once in a while but it wasn’t anything super challenging,” Minicozzi said. “I was so scared going into that match that my mom said to me after that she noticed that I was shaking at the very beginning. Having that in my sophomore year made it a lot easier my junior year.”

Tennis has been a part of Minicozzi’s life for almost as far back as he can remember. He feels at home gliding and striding across the court with a racquet firmly gripped in his hands. It is why he is finding it so hard to let the sport go now that he has graduated high school.

“I kind of have a tendency to like get bored of things really fast. And once I got into tennis, I found it really fun and then I started to get bored of playing baseball and that kind of made me quit that,” Minicozzi said. “But tennis was like the only thing that I’ve never gotten bored of, I’ve always really had fun with it.”

Make no mistake, Minicozzi could be playing college tennis if he so wanted. There was serious interest from smaller schools, but Minicozzi is prioritizing his education and getting the college experience instead of trying to drag a few more years out of competitive tennis, though tennis will still be a big part of his life in South Carolina.

“I’m really excited about going to Clemson. I’ve talked to their club president and am planning on playing there and seeing if I can maybe walk-on for at least one of the years that I’m there. But I definitely have more to work for, so I’m excited to keep playing in some fashion,” Minicozzi said. “I thought about it last year a lot. I was thinking about getting into recruiting. I had a lot of D-II and D-III schools that were talking to me. They still try to text me now, but my main thing was I just wanted to go to a really big school and kind of get the college experience.”

Minicozzi offered LaGrange a towering presence on the court. His 6’6 frame might have left some opponents frightened, but Minicozzi was anything but an intimidating presence once you got to know him. 

Where there was once a shy, quiet boy on the courts, that was anything but the case by his senior season. Minicozzi developed into an outspoken leader for the team.

“I was really excited for it because one of my teammates last year, Henry Huberdeau, was our captain and I kind of got a couple of things from him,” Minicozzi said. “Like he never let his performance affect how he would cheer for the team and I tried to carry that over my senior year, especially since I was the only senior.”

At times, Minicozzi butted heads with head coach Kenny Moore. Even when they did not see eye to eye, Minicozzi appreciates how fun and loose the environment that Moore built around the team which allowed Minicozzi to both have fun and play high-level tennis.

“We had rough patches, especially since we’re both strong-minded people and we both have values that overlap in some ways, but very different in others. But I was really glad to have a coach like him who was like really enthusiastic about the sport and just wanting to have everyone to have fun and not caring so much about being super competitive,” Minicozzi said. “His coaching style was like really refreshing.”

Happy to be done with the classes aspect of high school, there is still a bittersweet feeling for Minicozzi as he says goodbye to the Grangers. LaGrange High is a place where he has felt accepted and flourished while setting the table for even bigger things to come in his future.

“I’ve been playing with the LaGrange High School tennis team for like six or seven years with my (private) coach introducing me to the players and stuff,” Minicozzi said. “So it was really hard to play that last match and know that that was it with LaGrange.

“We had a lot of students that have never experienced tennis before come to our playoff matches, which was really fun. And they got to cheer for us. I think it’s just like a really nice community.”