WESLEY CHAPEL — Agustin “Agie” Moreno has given up a lot for tennis.
From picking tennis over soccer, to being home schooled to practice constantly, the 16-year-old Wiregrass Ranch High sophomore has a lot to show for it.
“I love tennis,” said the tennis phenom, whose father is the USF women’s tennis coach. “If I didn’t play tennis … I don’t know what I would do. I don’t think I could deal with it.”
What Moreno has been able to deal with is local and international tennis success at a young age. He is ranked 300th in the world for under-18 tennis players, and also won the Mexican Olympics at 16.
To top that all off, not only did Moreno, as the boys tennis team’s top player, help lead the Bulls to the school’s first team state title when they won the Class 3A crown April 17, but Moreno became the first overall individual tennis champion in Pasco County history the next day.
“Going into the tournaments, I never thought I was going to win,” Moreno said, “but with each round I won, it got more real, I got more confident and it turned out practice paid off.”
For his high school coach, Dave Wilson, Moreno is a leader of a group of very talented players that need very little coaching.
“You become more of a mental coach for the guys we have,” Wilson said. “Sometimes, you just have to remind them of the things they need to do or not to do.”
Moreno won the first set of his Class 3A individual title match against Fort Myers’ John Carlin 6-1. However, he lost 6-4 in the second.
“I wasn’t playing aggressive,” Moreno said. “Too timid. Coach told me to go all out.”
“He just forgot what was making him successful,” Wilson said, “and that’s the only time I’ve had to say anything to him all season. It was just about keeping a still-mature kid focused.
“He’s been in situations like that (from playing internationally and junior tennis tournaments). He knew what to do, I just had to remind him, but he still had to do it.”
Moreno took the tie-breaker third set 10-3, earning him a second medal to go along with a team title medal and rings he and his teammates, Pedro Fernandez, Foresight Okungbowa, Alejandro Feliciano and Sebastian Castillo, will receive.
“There are kids who like to play tennis,” Wilson said. “Agie loves to play tennis. He has immersed himself in it and this success has helped immerse himself even more. Physically, as a sophomore, he’s got great size and there’s nothing but upside to him.
“Now he and the rest of us want to make it two (state titles) in a row.”
Moreno moved to the U.S. with his family when he was 2 so his dad Augustin could coach at TCU, and after a brief stint in Athens, Ga. while the elder Moreno coached at Georgia, the Morenos came to Tampa when his dad got the USF job. As a sophomore, he has high aspirations of one day going pro, but perhaps playing in college first. Moreno admits that’s a ways off and he’s not even thinking about that.
“It’s very fun to play tennis all over the world,” said Moreno, who left Friday for a tennis tournament in El Salvador. “Very fun to travel, meet new people and see new cultures and try new food. You make a lot of friends when you play all over the world by meeting people who share the same passion as you, I love that.
“I love that tennis has given me that.”
Correspondent Mike Camunas can be reached at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeCamunas.