Hiltzik upsets No. 2 seed at All-Americans


Kevin Vongnaphone | Senior photo

Illinois’ Jared Hiltzik swings for the ball during the second round of NCAA Men’s Tennis Regionals v. Drake at Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex on Saturday, May 9, 2015. Illinois won 4-2.

By Lucas Wright

With a loss by redshirt-junior Julian Childers in the fourth round of prequalifying at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-Americans, the Illini were down to a lone wolf in the main draw: Aron Hiltzik.EJ

The sophomore managed to maneuver through the first two rounds of the main draw, but he ultimately fell in straight sets to Andre Goransson of the University of California-Berkeley in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday.EJ

Hiltzik was the only Illinois player to bypass the qualifying rounds, but he was tested early the first round of the main draw by Amerigo Contini of Virginia Tech.EJ

Contini took Hiltzik to three sets where it came down to a tiebreaker to decide who would advance to face the No. 2 overall seed in the second round. It was 4-4 in the third-set tiebreak when a controversial “in” call on Hiltzik’s serve set Contini off on a tirade, delaying the final few points. Hiltzik regrouped and went on to close out the match 7-6(2), 3-6, 7-6(4).

The most impressive feat from Hiltzik came in the second round where he faced off with No. 2 seed and No. 7 nationally ranked Nicolas Alvarez of Duke. Although Hiltzik also has a top-50 ranking, he came in to the match with Alvarez as a substantial underdog, and according to Hiltzik, Alvarez was at the top of his game coming in.

“He just had a really good tournament beforehand when he finaled at the ITA Oracle Masters and he’ll probably be ranked in the top five all year,” Hiltzik said. “I talked with the coaches before and we just said that I know I can deal with these top guys and I just need to prove it.”

Hiltzik proved himself right from the start, winning the first set 7-5.EJ He said that his quick start was in part thanks to his positive attitude from the first point.

“I just stuck to my guns and played with a lot of intensity and purpose,” Hiltzik said. “I faced adversity a couple times throughout the match, mainly just some unlucky points, but I held my head high and didn’t react badly to anything.”

Hiltzik finished off the upset with a 7-5 win in the second set, ending 7-5, 7-5.

Hiltzik’s road came to an end with his matchup against the hot hand of Cal’s Goransson. Goransson made quick work of Hiltzik, winning in straight sets 6-2, 6-1. Goransson went on to advance to the semifinals of the tournament.EJ

Despite falling in the round of 16, Hiltzik said he was pleased with his play and is already looking forward to his upcoming matches.

“I’ll be playing regionals in two weeks and if I final there, then I can qualify for National Indoors,” he said. “Right now playing at nationals is still my main goal.”

The Midwest Regionals will begin Oct. 22 in South Bend, Indiana, and if Hiltzik’s tone is any clue, he will be a force in the regionals.

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