Originally, the French Open Tennis Tournament was supposed to start tomorrow. Now, it’s been delayed until September. The NCAA tennis championships were canceled, along with every other tournament. University of Hawaii top male player Andre Ilagan had a a great season ended early.
“I feel like we’re normal students now because we don’t play any sports so it sucks but at the same time it’s the right thing to do,” said Ilagan via Facetime.
Ilagan and the rest of the University of Hawaii men’s tennis team were off to a 9-6 record before the pandemic hit, led by new head coach Joel Kusnierz.
“I think it was going really good,” Ilagan said. “I feel like it showed a glimpse of our seasons in the upcoming years with Joel being our new coach. But I feel like the group of guys we have are amazing. Shoutout to Tristan Lu for playing lights out so far this year. But cut short unfortunately. But I think it just shows that we’re turning it around now since the past few years have been really tough. But I feel like we have a bright future.”
From Kalihi, Ilagan won back to back state titles at Farrington High School before staying in state and playing for UH.
“I think this year we put a chip on our shoulders in a way,” he said. “But at the same time not worrying about the results. So like last year we felt more pressure with everything because we felt like we were a good team and stuff like that. But this year we were just thinking we’re just going to take it one match at a time and see what happens. We just improved every match and so on.”
Ilagan was the conference freshman of the year last season, and as a sophomore, was named Big West player of the week twice this year. And when Hawaii swept Washington, he beat the 43rd ranked college player in the country.
“I think it was great for me but also for the team because we won five zero, that’s all I care about,” said Ilagan. “Winning against the #43 in the country was pretty cool. Knowing that I had nothing to lose but then at the same time I had a chip in my shoulder saying that I had to win for my team.”
There’s a long way to go before Ilagan could compete in a grand slam tournament like the French Open, though he’s already competed against some of the best in the world at the Hawaii Open.
“For sure finish college and try to make a name for myself. Just putting Hawaii on the map with showing that we have a good tennis program. And after that play on the professional tour and see how it goes. Just work hard and anything can happen from there.”