Boys tennis: Niwot’s Neil Wilcox wins player of the year yet again

Wilcox won the 4A No. 1 singles title for a second straight season

Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
NIWOT CO -October 13, 2020: Niwot No. 1 singles player, Neil Wilcox, is the tennis player of the year after winning his second straight Class 4A state title. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Niwot ace Neil Wilcox won his second straight state title at Class 4A No. 1 singles last month to earn his third consecutive player of the year honor.

Even better, he said — was locking down the Cougars’ first team title in program history.

“To be a part of something that big is amazing,” Wilcox said. “I just love the Niwot team. It’s full of a bunch of good guys with great personalities.”

Wilcox — oh yet again — was the top tennis performer in the area, wowing opponents while putting together a spectacular close to his high school career.

In a shortened fall season due to the coronavirus, Class 4A’s best player suffered just one loss — to 5A best Morgan Schilling of Regis Jesuit.

Again, opponents were regularly no match for him. So much so, some were even complimentary of his game.

“Out of 11 years of playing tennis never have I ever seen someone play so well,” Riverdale Ridge No. 1 singles player Katsumi Hayashi said after the two’s match in August. “It’s really an amazing experience to play him beyond even just watching. Watching is a treat itself, but then playing and being in front of that ball is an incredible experience.”

Added Longmont ace Henry Matheson after falling to Wilcox in the regional finals: “The level of his ball is so heavy, so flat, so fast. It helps me prepare for everyone else because no one else is going to have that speed.”

Wilcox won his regional, cruised to a fourth straight trip to the 4A tournament and dropped just two games in reaching the state final in Pueblo.

There, he rallied to beat Greeley West’s Nico Jamison in three sets, a win that also locked up the Cougars’ team title.

“I had no idea until I walked off the court after my match,” Wilcox told BoCoPreps after his title win. “Everyone was screaming, and I just looked at them and asked what happened. When they told me, I couldn’t believe it.”

The legacy of Wilcox at Niwot is set. Set-match to be precise.

No doubt, the four-year No. 1 singles career can be described in accolades, images of winners and by his common-to-rarity, win-loss record.

His high school coach Miikka Keronen, who predicted a second-straight state title for his ace weeks after his 2019 title win, said he’s excited to see where the senior can go from here.

“Neil has gotten a lot better” since joining the program as a freshman, Keronen said. “And he’ll just keep getting better.”

The plan for the rest of 2020 for Wilcox includes more tournaments, building more strength, developing more of his game, as he looks to go pro.

Predicated on COVID-19 regulation, he even hopes to travel to Argentina in December to further tune his craft.

“I would probably be down there a month, a good majority of December and probably into January,” Wilcox said. “I would probably play some tournaments in Argentina, some high level (International Tennis Federation) tournaments. Then I’d come back and play some ITF tournaments here.”

Wilcox won a doubles title and took runner-up in singles at a Longmont level-four sectional earlier this week.