Enzo Kohn, a sophomore economics major, has had an eventful career playing tennis at GC, both on and off the court.
Growing up on the scorching hot streets of Rio de Janeiro, Kohn began his tenure at GC in the Fall of 2017 after being accepted into the school and earning a spot on the tennis team.
Steve Barsby, head men’s tennis coach, recruited Kohn into the program because he was both a skilled tennis player and an academically inclined student.
“I always try to figure out what the kid is looking for, because some are looking for all tennis and some are looking for all academics,” Barsby said. “We want someone who looks for both, and he was.”
Kohn’s path to GC came after a long career of tennis back in his hometown of Rio de Janeiro. Initially, he began taking lessons at the age of five, but began playing in serious matches and winning tournaments when he was eight to nine years old.
As Kohn grew into his high school, he had to make his blossoming tennis career work with his highly rigid schooling.
Unlike high school students in the United States, students in Brazil have their entire school schedule planned for them, stay with the same students through elementary school and have access to school sponsored athletics.
“We don’t have high school teams in Brazil,” Kohn said. “In Brazil we have people whose job it is to contact coaches at universities in America, sometimes with videos to let them know, ‘Hey, we have this athlete here playing tennis, do you like him?’
Kohn remarks how the weather in Rio de Janeiro made it difficult to practice, especially during the sweltering summers.
“During the summer sometimes it’s unbearable to play tennis. I remember certain days where I hit two or three balls and had to stop,” Kohn said.
Summertime in Brazil may not have been the most ideal time to practice his tennis game, but Kohn found excitement in the plethora of sporting events held in his hometown.
Rio de Janeiro hosted both the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic games in 2016. Kohn was luckily able to attend a few Olympic sporting events as well as a football match at the World Cup.
“At the World Cup I went to watch France against Ecuador. It was actually a very boring match. The score was 0-0,” Kohn said.
Coming to Milledgeville was certainly a big change of pace for Kohn as he would soon discover during his first two years at GC.
Nathan Connelly, a junior mass communication major, remembers when Kohn came to GC during his second year. The two quickly became acquainted with one another after playing tennis together.
“We play doubles a lot together in the two years we’ve been together,” Connelly said. “We know each others game a lot. He has a stronger backhand and my forehand is better.”
Connelly along with other tennis players native to the U.S. helped Kohn adjust to living in Georgia.
Kohn remembers one of his first experiences at GC involved eating at Zaxby’s. Coming from a diet of vegetarian home-cooked meals he was completely in awe eating his first American meal; a 5-piece fingerz plate with ranch dressing.
“We don’t have Zaxby’s in Brazil so I was wondering, what do I order here? They told me fried chicken. Fried chicken? Really? No salads?” said Kohn.
Aside from taking him to eat the finest culinary delicacies in the state of Georgia, Kohn’s teammates also made sure to show him the nightlife in Milledgeville.
Kohn was already accustomed to dance clubs and spending the night out on weekends, but he found the time frame very mild compared to the Rio de Janeiro schedule.
“In Brazil we have more of a dance nightlife where we spend all night out and get back at 8 o’clock in the morning, eat breakfast then go to bed. Here everything closes at 2 AM, so my first night here I thought, so now what do I do?”
As the tennis season nears the end of its regular season, Kohn is ready to make a postseason run.
Recovering from an injury he suffered last Fall, Kohn is practicing and conditioning to get back into proper shape for the NCAA tournament.
“[Connelly] got to practice and condition in the Fall, and I spent the entire Fall semester without doing anything,”
Kohn said. “Now I’m playing more points and trying to do extra stuff so I can get back into good physical shape.”
Photo courtesy of GC Sports Information