What’s the difference between playing professional tennis and professional basketball?
Two members of the Illini men’s tennis team, Jared Hiltzik and Aleks Vukic, are taking a semester off from college tennis to try and play professional ball.
“My dream since I was a kid was to be a professional tennis player. Taking the fall off will allow me to jumpstart my career and allow me to achieve a higher ranking so I can enter bigger tournaments next year,” Hiltzik said. “In addition, it is usually a tough adjustment coming straight out of school to play pro, so this allows me to get a feel for pro life early on.”
According to the men’s assistant coach, Marcos Asse, Hiltzik has been planning on making this move since his freshman year.
“He’s been setting this up for three years now to take the fall off, and just go play pro tournaments, so on a personal level for him, he’s getting good competition,” said Asse. “He’s building up points, so when he’s done with his senior year and done with collegiate tennis he can jump into the pro ranks a little easier.”
Farris Gosea, a recent men’s tennis graduate, took his fall semester off last year similar to Hiltzik. Gosea said that taking time off was a necessary move in order to pursue his goal because of how unique of a sport it is.
“I guess you can’t call it a team sport, you know you’re on the court on your own and it can sometimes get lonely traveling around the world on your own, so it’s definitely a unique sport in itself but it’s one I enjoy,” Gosea said.
Asse agrees that this is the move that needs to be made in order to pursue professional tennis after playing college for four years. In fact, most illinois tennis alumn that have pursued professional tennis after school have taken either a semester or more off.
Asse, Gosea and current teammate Toshiki Matsuya talk about why this move has been popular throughout the history of the program here.
More information on success of professional players from Illinois found here.