Aron Hiltzik kicked off his junior season by being named Big Ten Tennis Athlete of the Week for the second time in his career.
Hiltzik has received First, Second and Academic All-Big Ten honors throughout his career at Illinois and is currently ranked No. 29 in the Big Ten. He also snagged a runner-up title in his first professional tournament in October.
But, as he said, he’s just getting started and last week’s honor is a step in the right direction.
“I’ve got bigger goals for the rest of the season,” Hiltzik said. “Going All-American is what I’m looking towards, but getting Athlete of the Week definitely means I’m doing well and starting the season on a good note.”
Over winter break, Hiltzik used boxing to sharpen his tennis skills and make his dream of becoming an All-American a reality.
“Kickboxing helps get me into a good mindset and really sharpens hand-eye coordination,” Hiltzik said.
The Illini said he was inspired by his favorite athlete, mixed martial artist Conor McGregor.
“I started reading and learning more about (McGregor), and it was also interesting,” Hiltzik said. “I remember thinking ‘Oh my god, this is the coolest thing I’ve read.’ He’s a really confident guy.”
Hiltzik’s “fighter mentality” has spewed over into his success at Illinois and in the Big Ten.
During his time at Illinois, he has gone 60-19 in singles competition alone. According to Hiltzik, keeping momentum in singles is important, but improving in doubles is one of his goal this season.
Hiltzik and freshman teammate Aleks Kovacevic went undefeated in their singles competition debuts in Atlanta.