Sports Person of the Week
Trinh’s a True Leader on the Court
Minh Trinh is leading the East Haven boys’ tennis team as a senior captain, while playing No. 2 doubles for a Yellowjackets’ club that qualified for states for the first time in 13 years this spring. (Photo courtesy of Minh Trinh)
Minh Trinh didn’t participate in sports as a youngster, but when he entered his sophomore year at East Haven High School, Minh decided that he wanted to play tennis. Minh enjoyed the sport right from his first serve and went on to become a top-notch leader for the Yellowjackets, earning the title of senior captain this spring.
“The first time I picked up a racquet was a week before the first practice. I was looking for something to do,” says Minh. “Out of all the options, tennis seemed the most fun. I came to one practice and tried out. I fell in love with it.”
Minh likes tennis because of the strategy and technique that are such a big part of the game. Minh spent most of his freshman season competing at the JV level with the Easties. Minh looked up to players like Joe Brown, who was a senior captain at the time, and the support that Minh received from his fellow Yellowjackets made his transition into tennis that much smoother.
“There were a lot of people on the team that were role models to me. Even though I didn’t get to play those matches, I was still watching them play,” Minh says. “I would be on the sidelines supporting them. It was enough to motivate me to get better.”
Although he was unable to compete as a junior due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Minh did everything he could to improve his tennis game for his senior season. Minh would get as many people together as he could to just hit around on the court. Minh came away from the year-long layoff of competition with a better understanding of the sport and a hunger to compete as a senior.
Now in his senior year, Minh is playing No. 2 doubles on the Yellowjackets’ varsity squad alongside fellow senior Devon Lopez. On May 19, East Haven earned a 4-3 win over Lyman Hall that qualified the team for the Class M State Tournament for the first time in 13 years. Minh says that the Easties were super motivated coming into the season and felt that they had a strong shot at making the playoffs.
“When we looked at our schedule at the beginning of the season, we thought there was a pretty good chance we could make states,” says Minh. “Right before our first match was the most motivated we have ever been. When we won the Lyman Hall match, the energy we all felt was incredible.”
With his leap to the varsity level, Minh also entered the 2021 season as a captain alongside fellow seniors Mat DiVito and Mateusz Wiszniewski. Minh was a little bit surprised when he was named a captain, but he feels honored to hold that role and have the opportunity to support his Yellowjackets’ teammates.
“I really did not expect to be captain,” Minh says. “I believe that captains should lead by example and show underclassmen what tennis players should be like. As a captain, I try to take that responsibility and show what good sportsmanship is like. I try to teach them the best I can. If I was captain alone, I don’t think I’d be able to do it. But having my other captains takes some weight off my shoulders.”
When East Haven boys’ tennis plays its home matches, the team is competing on as many as four courts at a time. With Head Coach Anthony Perrotti unable to be on all four courts at once, he’s relied on Minh to provide some guidance for the Easties this year. Minh will often give the club’s younger players advice during their matches, and Coach Perrotti truly appreciates the senior’s exemplary leadership.
“Minh is excellent. His personality is his strongest characteristic. He always lightens the mood and makes the everyday in-and-out of tennis enjoyable for everyone around him,” says Perrotti. “Minh is always walking around and giving as many pointers as he can, especially for our younger players. He is always trying to help his teammates. He is truly involved in each and every individual match.”
Minh has been playing doubles since he started tennis. Minh likes the doubles game, because he enjoys working with his partner as they keep each other upbeat throughout each match.
“It’s not just two players playing two other players. It’s about playing together. It’s about the chemistry between each other,” Minh says. “Tennis can get frustrating. It’s easy to get unmotivated. When you have a partner, you can bounce off each other and keep each other motivated.”
After graduating from East Haven, Minh will attend UConn to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. Minh plans to continue playing tennis for fun, because he loves the sport and wants to stay on the court for as long as possible.
While he started playing tennis as pastime, Minh quickly found a passion between the baselines and wound up making many lifelong memories and friendships in just two years. Looking back, Minh wishes that he joined the East Haven boys’ tennis team even sooner.
“When I first started playing, I didn’t expect to be the best. I just wanted something to do. Since I’ve joined, I’ve gotten so much more,” says Minh. “I’ve made so many friendships and made so many memories over the past two years. If I could go back, I would have told myself to start playing tennis my freshman year.”