Tim Kopinski leads Illini men’s tennis in season-opening meet at Olympia Fields

Tim Kopinski stepped up into his role as a leader for Illinois in its season-opening meet at the OFCC Invitational in Olympia Fields, Ill. The junior went undefeated in singles play over the weekend, including a straight-sets win over Texas’ No. 101 Lloyd Glasspool. Kopinski would go on to be named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

“Tim really came out strong this weekend for us and put together a strong opening weekend,” head coach Brad Dancer said. “He played confidently and didn’t let his emotions get to him too much. He still has a couple things to continue to work on, but he got off to a good start.”

Kopinski went 4-0 in singles play over the weekend. He defeated Texas’ David Holiner on Friday (6-2, 3-6, 6-4), Glasspool on Saturday (7-5, 6-2) and Virginia’s Jordan Daigle in three sets on Sunday.

“I thought I did a very good job of staying calm and taking every point one at a time,” Kopinski said. “I thought my movement was good, and my patience got me through all my individual matches.”

Kopinski also had success in doubles play paired with fellow junior Farris Gosea. The tandem had a 2-1 record over the weekend, including a victory over the No. 54 doubles tandem of Johnny Grimal and David O’Leary of Memphis.

“Farris and I always bring a good amount of energy to every doubles match we play together,” Kopinski said. “Our energy was a strong point for us, but we still have to get better on our serves and more consistent with our volleys.”

Also having some success over the weekend with a 3-1 record was sophomore Jared Hiltzik. He also competed in doubles, paired with sophomore Alex Jesse. The tandem boasted a record of 2-1.

While the two doubles tandems for the Illini combined for a 4-2 showing, Head coach Brad Dancer was not satisfied with the doubles play.

“Our doubles play was not at the standard that we have seen and hope to see,” Dancer said. “We need to serve a lot better in doubles; that’s the bottom-line.”

While Hiltzik and Kopinski were successful over the weekend, the results of the rest of the team were mixed. Outside of the Illini’s top two individuals, the team only went a combined 9-9. Dancer was pleased with certain aspects of the Illini’s overall singles play, especially with the performance of junior Blake Bazarnik — who went 3-1 — yet still sees a good deal of progress to be had.

“We really need to see much more consistency outside of our top players,” Dancer said. “While it is only the first meet, our guys have to step it up and play at a higher level than we saw this weekend.”

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @danescalona77.