Illini underclassman finding success on pro circuit


URBANA (WCIA) — Zeke Clark hasn’t done it yet, but he has no doubts that he will. 

“Now this is kind of breaking through to that next stage, the later stage in the tournament,” Clark said. “I’ve just got to keep putting myself in that position and I’ll get there eventually.”

The Illini rising sophomore advanced to a professional quarterfinal for the second time this summer, this time at the JSM Futures tournament at Atkins Tennis Center. He had a close match against second-seeded Joser Statham Thursday, eventually falling in a 7-6 tiebreaker in the second set. 

“Definitely disappointed that I wasn’t able to pull through here but I’ve got to take the positives away from it,” said Clark.

The 19-year-old was the lone Illini in Thursday’s quarters after making it further than senior Aleks Vukic, Illinois’ top player, and former standout Jared Hiltzik.

“To be honest, it was maybe a little bit of a surprise,” Clark said. “I mean I just finished my freshman year, so maybe a little bit of a break through week for me.”

Despite having what Clark calls a ‘disappointing’ freshman season, playing mostly in the five and six spot, his performances at professional tournaments could hint at an exciting season ahead for the Illini.

“I definitely feel confident with my game right now and I feel that I’m at a point in my career where I’m building my skills and I’ll keep putting myself in these kinds of positions,” Clark said.

A good position for both Clark and Illinois.

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