CRYSTAL LAKE – Julian Collins might be the quiet type both on and off the court, but on Friday he didn’t need his voice, as he let sportsmanship do all the talking.
The soft-spoken 13-year-old Huntley resident sat at a picnic table eagerly awaiting his first-ever tournament match, but his opponent was nowhere to be found. Tournament director Rob Laue then gave Collins two choices. He could either wait for his opponent or advance to the second round via default.
Because this was Collins’ first experience at an organized tournament after playing for only a year and a half, he graciously obliged to wait, citing his desire to play rather than give himself the automatic victory. It was something that never crossed his mind.
“I’d rather play and get the experience than just win without doing anything,” Collins said.
When his opponent, Anish Parepally, arrived, Collins couldn’t wait.
In the first set, Collins fell behind 1-0 before winning his own service game to tie the match at 1-1. Parepally, of South Barrington, rallied to win five of the next six games to win the set, but Collins did not make it easy on him. In five of the eight games, he forced at least one deuce point.
Collins admitted his strategy was pretty straightforward. While hitting a mix of lob and drop shots, his approach helped move Parepally back-and-forth on the court.
“I just try to hit it where they’re not,” he said. “I think hitting it short worked best because he could not get to the ball.”
“He tried a lot of different shots than he normally would go for,” Julian’s mother Irene added.
After playing handfuls of long points in the first, the second set was more difficult for Collins. He broke Parepally’s serve at 3-0 to pick up a game in the second, but that’s all he would get against the more experienced Parepally. Parepally’s serve and forehand became too much for Collins to overcome, falling 2-6, 1-6.
Regardless of the outcome, Collins succeeded in achieving his original goal of gaining practical tournament experience.
“Today, I was able to get the feel for how things work [in tournaments],” Collins said.
Julian’s father, Brian Collins, was not only proud of his son’s efforts, but Julian’s decision to put sportsmanship ahead of his desire to take an easy win.
“Sports are more about playing and having fun,” Julian’s father Brian Collins said. “Winning is nice, but playing is better.”
Although he is out of the main draw, Collins will have another opportunity tomorrow to pick up his first tournament victory in the Boys 14 consolation bracket.