Monday, August 24, 2015

Illini Women Get New Coach, Evan Clark Takes The Reigns

The Illinois women's tennis team has a new head coach. Evan Clark was named interim head coach for the 2015-16 season after head coach Michelle Dasso's contract was not renewed by athletic director Mike Thomas. He joined the Fighting Illini program nine months ago as Dasso's assistant.

Clark knows the game. In high school, he boasted a record of 31 wins and no losses and won the 2002 Missouri High School 4A State Singles Championship. The outstanding season performance earned him the Kansas City Star Tennis Male Athlete of the Year award. He later was captain of the UM-Kansas City men's tennis team from 2002-04 and finished his collegiate career as a member of the Arkansas men's tennis program.

His coaching experience includes stints UNC Wilmington, where he Clark led the Seahawks to the program's first women's Colonial Athletic Association conference championship. He also coached at the University of Missouri-Kansas City guiding the team to a 31-11 record. Prior to his time at UNC Wilmington, Clark served as the assistant coach for the University of Maryland's men's team from 2010-12.

In the video below courtesy of Illini Athletics posted on YouTube, here's more about the man who will lead the 2015-2016 campaign.




Thursday, August 20, 2015

Eight Great Photos From The Futures of Champaign Tournament

Webmaster note: The photos are gone, but will be back soon. We've moved to a new photo host and have to rebuild all of our galleries. Stop back by in a week. Hopefully, we'll have them back up by then!

The Car-X Futures of Champaign tennis tournament held at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Center featured a lot of 32 highly talented athletes from as far away as Mexico, India and Great Britain. The six-day event starting on August 8th, ended with the number four seed Kevin King as the tournament's inaugural champion.

King was well-rewarded for his efforts. After defeating Nathan Pasha in his opening match, he knocked off local favorite and recent University of Illinois alum Tim Kopinski in straight sets for a showdown with Junior French Open winner Tommy Paul. Prevailing after his three-setter with Paul, King faced Brit Richard Gabb the title match and clearly dominated play on his way to a 6-3, 6-1 victory.

King's championship bounty included 27 USTA ranking points, a check for $2,160 and a beautiful Smith & Bradley watch created just a few dozen miles away from the tournament site.

Below are eight of our favorite photos and links to more from PhotoNews Media's coverage of the $15,000 Futures event.


Alex Rybakov hits the ball back across the net

Alex Rybakov prepares to slice the ball back across the net in his quarterfinal tennis match against Richard Gabb. The left-hander pushed his British opponent to three sets falling 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3 at the Car-X Futures of Champaign tournament. Find more tournament pictures of Rybakov on our photo gallery.


Tommy Paul playing at the Car-X Futures of Champaign tennis tournament

Tommy Paul, winner of this year's French Open Juniors, lunges for wide forehand shot from the other side of the net in his quarterfinal match against #4 seed Kevin King. Paul fell in his bid for a semifinal spot after an exciting three set contest 6-1, 2-6, 7-6(8) to King. See eight more photos of Paul in action here ...



Kevin King reacts after hitting the ball long in the second set during his quarterfinal match against fellow American Tommy Paul at the Car-X Future of Champaign tennis tournament. King defeated Paul, after splitting the first two sets 6-1 and 2-6, in an exciting third set comeback for a final score of 7-6(8). See 12 more photos of King in action from this match and his title match effort.



Konrad Zieba hits a blazing forehand shot in his match against Sanam Singh at the Car-X Futures of Champaign tennis tournament. Zieba forced a third set decision falling 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2, to Singh on Wednesday. See more of Zieba's match photos ...



Sanam Singh lines up a backhand

Sanam Singh lines up a backhand shot during his Car-X Futures of Champaign match on Wednesday. After dropping his first set, Singh surged back to a third set victory 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 over Northwestern University junior Konrad Zieba. Check out more photos of Singh here.


Richard Gabb hits a backhand

Richard Gabb hits a backhand shot during his championship match against #4 seed Kevin King at the Car-X Futures of Champaign tennis tournament. Gabb fell in his bid to win the inaugural tournament title falling 3-6, 1-6 on Sunday afternoon. For his effort he earned 15 points in the USTA standings and $1,272 in prize money. See seven more photos in this gallery.


Daniel Garza hits a leaping forehand winner

Daniel Garza hits a leaping forehand winner during his quarterfinal match against Ramkumar Ramanathan at the Car-X Future of Champaign tennis tournament. Garza was eliminated from the Elite 8 in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4. See 10 more great photos of Garza in action.


Ramkumar Ramanathan chases down a ball in the ad court.

Ramkumar Ramanathan chases down a ball in the ad court during his match against Daniel Garza at the Car-X Futures of Champaign tennis tournament. Ramanathan battled back from a 1-4 second set to pick up a 6-3, 6-4 win over Garza Friday afternoon at the Atkins Tennis Center on the University of Illinois campus. He will face Kevin King in a semifinal match on Saturday.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Park District League Dates Announced

Earlier this month the Champaign Park District announced the dates and times for their fall tennis leagues. Park District leagues are structured and competitive. To join players must be evaluated by Yuri Sohn, the head professional. Fall/winter leagues are divided into two seven-week sessions and all matches are played at the Dodds Tennis Center. For more information contact Yuri via email at yuri.sohn@champaignparks.com or by phone at 217-819-3993.

ADULT SUNDAY SINGLES LEAGUE
(Generally Men’s 2.5-3.0/Ladies 3.0-3.5)

9/13-10/25    Su 1:30-3p
11/1-12/20*  Su 1:30-3p 
No League: 11/22*
Member Fee: $99 / Guest Fee: $114

 BRONZE FLEX SINGLES LEAGUE
(Generally Men’s 3.0-3.5/Ladies 3.5-4.0)
Court times are scheduled on an individual match basis.
Session I: 9/13-10/25   
Session II:11/1-12/20
Member Fee: $99 / Guest Fee: $114

SILVER FLEX SINGLES LEAGUE
(Generally Men’s 3.5-4.0/Ladies 4.0-4.5)
Court times are scheduled on an individual match basis.
Session I: 9/13-10/25   
Session II:11/1-12/20
Member Fee: $99 / Guest Fee: $114

GOLD FLEX SINGLES LEAGUE
(Generally Men’s 4.0-4.5/Ladies 4.5-5.0)
Court times are scheduled on an individual match basis.
Session I: 9/13-10/25   
Session II:11/1-12/20
Member Fee: $99 / Guest Fee: $114

When And Why You Should Restring

Tennis racquets and a Formula 1 race car have something in common. Both require regular maintenance to operate at a peak performance level. At the recreational level, the general rule of thumb passed around is have new strings installed based on the number of times a week you play during the year. If you play twice a week, then you would want to take your racquet in for new strings twice a year. If you are playing four times a week, then your stick goes in for a string job four times during the year.

However, making the jump from a fun activity to a competitive passion, Lucien Nogues, the face of Babolat's team of string and racquet experts, gives tips on when serious players should consider restringing in this YouTube video to get the optimal level of pace, placement and spin. In the directory at the bottom of the page you will find a list of business and individuals in Champaign County who offer stringing services.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

It's Good To Be King In Champaign

Under the glaring hot summer sun in Urbana, #4 seed Kevin King pushed past Richard Gabb to win the inaugural Car-X Futures of Champaign singles tennis title. Below are five photos from King's match at the Atkins Tennis Center on Sunday afternoon. Follow this link to see more tournament photos.


Tournament winner Kevin King

August 16, 2015 - Urbana, IL - In front of a crowd of 20 spectators, Kevin King hits a forehand shot during a prolonged rally with Great Britain's Richard Gabb during second set action in their championship match at the inaugural Car-X Futures of Champaign. King defeated Gabb, 6-3, 6-1.


Tennis player Kevin King serves

King pounds a serve in the second set.


Kevin King questions an out call

King questions an out call by the chair umpire during a rally midway in the second set.


Kevin King hits a backhand

King hits a backhand during a long second set rally doing his best wear down Gabb under the hot August sun.


Kevin King shakes hands with tournament director Christine Stromberg

With huge smile on his face, Kevin King shakes hands with tournament director Christine Stromberg (left) after winning the inaugural Car-X Futures of Champaign tennis tournament title on Sunday. King celebrated his 6-3, 6-1 victory over Great Britain's Richard Gabb with a check for $2,160, a new watch and 27 USTA points on Sunday afternoon.



Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Illini Duo Advance At Champaign's Car-X Futures

Aron Hiltzik and Tim Kopinski advanced to second round of the Car-X Futures of Champaign tennis tournament on Wednesday morning. Doing battle on their home court as they have many time before, the pair enjoyed victories against formidable opponents on the Fighting Illini hard courts.

Kopinski squared off against former teammate Farris Gosea in the day's opening match. Losing his first service game and giving Gosea a 2-1 early break, the Stagg High School alum stormed back to win the first set 6-2. Unable to continue due to problems with his shoulder, Gosea retired in the second set up, 1-2.


Tim Kopinski races toward the ball

Former Fighting Illini tennis star Tim Kopinski races toward the ball during the first set of his match against former teammate Farris Gosea. Kopinski advanced to the next round after Gosea retired, 6-2, 1-2. Follow this link to see more Car-X Futures photos.



Aron Hiltzik makes a routine backhand shot during second set action in his first round match against William Bushamuka at the Car-X Futures of Champaign tennis tournament. Hiltzik, a sophomore for the Fighting Illini tennis team, prevailed over the University of Kentucky star 7-6(4), 1-6, 6-4 in an all out battle to advance to the second round on Thursday.


Meanwhile, one court over, Aron Hiltzik had his hands full against the University of Kentucky power hitter William Bushamuka. The IMG Academy trained Bushamuka and Hiltzik traded games like the jabs of seasoned boxers during and emotional first set. Back-to-back double faults late in the tie break by the Wildcat sophomore solidified Hiltzik's win.

Calling out in French out of frustration after hitting the ball out of bounds on the deuce side, Bushamuka was slapped with a warning for uttering something that sounded like - according to the head official - an obscenity in English. He responded to the infraction by rolling to a 6-1 second set victory over Hiltzik, who came back to punch his ticket to the second round in 6-4 final set win.
Kopinski will face #4 seed Kevin King at 11:00am on Thursday. Hiltzik will take the court at 9:30am to face #1 seed Ramkumar Ramanathan.






Eight Terrible Ways To Make A Line Call

It can get quite boring calling "out" over and over in a match. There is the temptation to spice up the call to pad our egos or to soften the blow to an opponent's shot that lands just outside the court boundaries after a heated rally. Here is an absolutely hilarious video that popped up on our Facebook feed with eight of the worst, sometimes annoying ways to call a ball out.

How NOT to Make a Line Call

Tennis Court Etiquette 101: Here are the top 8 WORST ways to make a line call. (I bet you've been guilty of at least one!)

Posted by Essential Tennis on Tuesday, August 11, 2015


What's the most ridiculous "out" call you have had an opponent repeatedly say during a match? Tell us in the comments below.

Car-X Futures 2nd Round Results

Sanam Singh hits a forehand

Sanam Singh hits a forehand during his Car-X Futures of Champaign match on Wednesday. After dropping his first set, Singh surged back to a third set victory 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 over Northwestern University junior Konrad Zieba in their first round match. The #2 seed in the singles bracket, Singh was eliminated from competition after falling 6-3, 7-5 to Alex Rybakov a day later.


Here are results from today's second round matches at the Car-X Futures of Champaign tournament.

Justin S. SHANE (USA) def Mico SANTIAGO (USA) 6-4, 6-3
Ramkumar RAMANATHAN (IND) [1] def Aron HILTZIK (USA) 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-4
Alex RYBAKOV (USA) def Sanam SINGH (IND) [2] 6-3, 7-5
Daniel GARZA (MEX) def Takanyi GARANGANGA (ZIM) [7] 6-0 6-2
Kevin KING (USA) [4] def Tim KOPINSKI (USA) 6-4, 6-4
Tommy PAUL (USA) [6] def Evan KING (USA) 6-4, 6-1
Reilly OPELKA (USA) def Aleksandar VUKIC (AUS) 6-3, 7-6(6)
Richard GABB (GBR) def Tom JOMBY (FRA) [5] 6-0, 6-1



Monday, August 10, 2015

Illini Connection Advance After First Round Play At Car-X Futures

Former University of Illinois standout Tim Kopinski won his opening qualifying match at the Car-X Futures of Champaign tournament via a straight set victory over fellow American Patrick Fitzgerald. With home court advantage, Kopinski cruised to a 6-4, 6-0 victory on Saturday.

Incoming Illini freshman Aiden Jiang, of China, defeated Marco Lopez (CHI) by the same margin, 6-4, 6-0.

First Round Qualifier Results
Josh Hagar, United States, def. Brian Page Jr., United States, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2

Tom Fawcett, United States, def. Alexander Jesse, United States, 6-2, 6-2

Aidan Talcott, United States, def. Joseph Van Metter, United States, 6-3, 6-1

Konrad Zieba, United States, def. Michael Lippens, United States, 6-3, 6-2

Will Stein, United States, def. Marko Stanic, Bosnia, 6-0, 6-1

JC Aragone, United States, def. Sergey Belov, Russia, 6-2, 6-4

Quentin Monaghan (15), United States, def. Jeremy Schneider, United States, 6-1, 6-1

Austin Hussey, United States, def. Forest Edwards, United States, 6-3, 6-3

Strong Kirchheimer, United States, def. Brian Boggs, United States, 6-1, 6-0

Christopher Diaz, United States, def. Ghandi Bhakthavachalm, United States, 7-6(5), 6-0

Pengxuan Jiang, China, def. Marco Lopex, Chile, 6-4, 6-0

Tim Kopinski, United States, def. Patrick Fitzgerald, Australia, 6-2, 6-0

Arnav Mohanty, United States, def. Hugo DiFeo(14), Canada, 3-2 ret.

Ned Whittaker, Australia, def. Henry Patrick Cacciatore, United States, 6-3, 7-5

Jonathan Ho, United States, def. Angel Peredo, Mexico, 6-1,6-2

Sebastian Eguez, Bolivia, def. Mesa Mei, United States, 6-4, 6-2

Alexander Gornet, United States, def. Isaiah Strode, United States, 6-2,3-6,6-1

Agustin Moreno, Mexico, (16) def. Julian Bradley, Ireland, 6-3,3-6, 6-3

Champaign-Urbana Host Futures Tournament This Week

The Car-X Futures of Champaign professional tennis tournament opened with qualifying play for 32 singles players and 16 doubles pairs vying for USTA ranking points and a portion of the $15,000 purse. The singles champion, who will be crowned after next Sunday's championship match, will receive $2,160 in prize money.

One of six men's USTA Pro Circuit events held in Illlinois, the tournament will feature competitive action between a mix of high school age and former collegiate athletes.

Main draw play will begin at 9am on Tuesday. Below are the results from second round qualifying round of play held today.


QR2 Results 8/10/15:JC Aragone (USA) def. [1] Dennis Nevolo: 6-2, 3-6, 6-4[11] Hunter Callahan (USA) def. Aidan...
Posted by Champaign Challenger & Futures USTA Pro Circuit Events on Monday, August 10, 2015

Baillon At Home With Her Illini Family

Madie Baillion was a dominating force as a high school tennis player. The St. Thomas More alum and high school all-stater played her first collegiate year at Illinois State University before being coaxed back to Champaign-Urbana as a member of the University of Illinois program a year ago. In her first season wearing the Orange & Blue, Baillon she posted 20 match wins against nine losses.

"Madie gained a lot of match experience ... at ISU and understands the demands of a collegiate schedule," UI coach Michelle Dasso told the Champaign-Urbana News Gazette a year ago this past May. "Her doubles skills and results were extremely impressive and we are excited to welcome her back home to the Illini family."

In the YouTube video featured below, Baillon talks about her decision to transfer to the Fighting Illini.

Hear what #Illini junior Madie Baillon has to say about transferring to Illinois after a season in the Orange and Blue.Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBzsm4vibYk

Posted by Fighting Illini Women's Tennis on Monday, August 10, 2015