Illini Jared Hiltzik falls in quarterfinals at National Indoors

By Lucas Wright

Survive and advance was the name of the game for Illinois men’s tennis senior Jared Hiltzik at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in Flushing, New YorkRB.

Hiltzik opened his 2015 Nationals with a matchup against unseeded Uros Petronijevic of San DiegoRB. Hiltzik got out to a slow start, dropping the first set 4-6 and was on the ropes in set two. The duo went to a tiebreaker in the second set, where Hiltzik rebounded to take it 7-6 (3)RB.

Hiltzik found his groove in the last set to dispatch Petronijevic 6-2 RBand move on to the round of 16. Round two showed similar results for Hiltzik against David Wilczynski of StanfordRB. Hiltzik’s struggles continued as he dropped his opening set, but rebounded to close out Wilczynski 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4RB.Despite losing opening sets in each of the first two rounds, assistant coach Marcos Asse said Hiltzik never showed weakness in the tough situations.

“He responded like a pro,” Asse said. “Jared kept plodding along, staying composed and never lost his cool (in the second set tiebreaker against Petronijevic). If I had to say how he responded (negatively), I’d say that he didn’t.”

Ironically, Hiltzik’s strongest match may have come in his quarterfinal matchup against Tulane’s Dominik Koepfer, the No. 3 seed. Hiltzik was defeated in straight sets by the eventual champion, 7-6(6), 7-5, but Asse said the score didn’t reflect the Illini’s playRB.

“It was just one tiebreaker in the first set and a break in the second set that cost him,” Asse said. “If I could take three points and sprinkle them in Jared’s favor, he would win that match.”

With Hiltzik out at Nationals, the Illinois men’s tennis program shifted its attention to hosting its only professional tournament of the fall, the $50,000 JSM Challenger at the Atkins Tennis Center. The main draw takes place Nov. 16-21.Many current and former Illini are featured in the event, with Jared and sophomore Aron Hiltzik, Farris Gosea and Tim Kopinski headlining the Illini past and present in the field.Asse said the tournament is one of the more important ones to the Illini over the course of the year, and the experience for the community to come see the team compete with such high level of competition is a great opportunity.

“For all the people involved, if they want to know if this is an exciting time for Illinois men’s tennis, the answer is yes,” Asse said. “The return on investment for our team is priceless.”

Illinois has a history of success in its home tournament, taking home last year’s doubles title with the team of then-seniors Ross Guignon and KopinskiRB.

Asse said that while the team is happy to be hosting the tournament, it isn’t content with just being in the field.

“Our guys have been studying the courts and have gotten with everybody to watch the matches,” Asse said. “Hopefully, like last year, we can win the whole damn thing.”

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