University of Hawai'i Rainbow Warrior tennis freshman Andre Ilagan has recently been moved to the No. 1 spot on the singles court.
Ilagan has thrived during his time at UH, posing a 5-1 overall record and 3-1 while holding the No. 1 position.
At 5-foot-7, Ilagan is the shortest player on the team, but plays as if he is 6-foot-10. Ilagan was raised with tennis as it was a family sport. He first picked up a tennis racket at the age of five, and ever since then, he hasn’t been able to put it down.
Ilagan made a statement during his time at Farrington High School, winning back-to-back state titles in singles his junior and senior seasons.
“Being the first player to do it all while placing second as a team was a special moment for me,” Ilagan said.
When asked why he chose Hawai'i over other colleges he received offers from, Ilagan replied, “The coaches here really played a big role along with playing for my home. I think it’s pretty cool to represent Hawai'i.”
There’s a lot of time remaining for Ilagan to grow as a tennis player and reach his long-term goal of playing professionally.
“Why not try it?" Ilagan asked. "I’ve been working on this sport for majority of my life so I’d love to give it a shot at that.”
Ilagan participated in the Hawai'i Open tournament in December 2018. The tournament featured both professional tennis players and amateurs.
“I definitely feel like I can hang with them on that level and I feel if I work hard enough, I could reach that goal one day,” he said.
Ilagan looks up to tennis player Rafael Nadal as a role model. Nadal is a Spanish professional tennis player, and is currently ranked No. 2 in men's singles by the Association of Tennis Professionals.
“Rafa is a really hard-working guy who has a real passion for the sport. You can see it in his face when he plays how passionate he is,” Ilagan shared.
The same could be said about Ilagan, who plays with a lot of passion and fire. It’s that mindset and passion that has gotten him this far in his tennis career.
“My biggest motivation I would have to say is my teammates," he said. "When I think about how important I am to them and how important they are to me, it drives me to be the best that I can be not only for me but for them as well.”
Ilagan and the 'Bows will face San Francisco in California March 6 at 10 a.m. HST.