Hiltzik, Kopinski shine for men’s tennis at Illini Open

The No. 22 Illinois men’s tennis team shone as brightly as the Florida sun at the three-day Illini Open in Ft. Myers, Fla., last weekend.

In the prelude to their dual season, the Illini’s top two singles players both dominated their competition with 3-0 records. No. 4 sophomore Jared Hiltzik sank his competitors with three straight-set victories, his best win coming over No. 100 Sasha Gozun from South Florida at 6-4, 6-4. 

Meanwhile, No. 46 junior Tim Kopinski earned his own straight-set victory of 6-1, 6-5(4) on the first day but was forced to win two three-set tiebreakers to stay undefeated on the weekend. No. 106 junior Farris Gosea also posted a strong 2-1 performance on the weekend, his only blemish coming in third-set tiebreaker loss following two straight-set victories.

Illinois saw less success on the doubles end with its highest ranked tandem going 1-1 on the weekend. After playing with other teammates on Day 1, No. 4 juniors Ross Guignon and Tim Kopinski fell in a tiebreaker 6-5(5) on Day 2 against an unranked duo from No. 15 Florida. The Illini tandem responded on Day 3 with a 6-4 victory over the No. 16 pair of Oliver Pramming and Ignacio Gonzalez-Muniz from South Florida.

Other standout doubles performances from Illinois came from its other two ranked tandems — No. 27 Gosea and Blake Bazarnik and No. 31 Hiltzik and Alex Jesse. Hiltzik’s strong performances in both doubles and singles earned him the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award.

Each recorded 2-1 records on the weekend, but only Hiltzik and Jesse were able to join their compatriots in defeating the ranked pair from South Florida, 6-1. 

The spring season will be in full swing this weekend when the Illini travel to Oxford, Miss., for the ITA Kickoff weekend against No. 11 Ole Miss, No. 23 Clemson and No. 26 Michigan.

J.J. can be reached at [email protected]   and @Wilsonable07.