© Owen Hambrook

Jakob Amilon had the crowd on his side at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Las Vegas.

College Star Amilon Takes First Steps Towards Pro Career

The UNLV player competed at home at the Challenger in Las Vegas

Jakob Amilon had a literal home court advantage at this week’s $50,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The 22-year-old Swede and college tennis star at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas received a main draw wild card into the tournament being held on his campus courts. Amilon put up a strong fight in the latter stages of his opening round against Zhe Li of China before falling in straight sets.

Despite the loss, he was able to take plenty of positives from the experience.

“To get a great tournament like this with all of these pro players is good for our city, for the school and for the program,” said Amilon. “You learn a lot from playing guys at this level, so it’s one of the most fun weeks of the year for me.”

Amilon is in his final year on the men’s tennis team at UNLV and is one of the top players in the region. But while he’s competed against some of the best college tennis players in the country, he admitted that Challenger players are at a level he doesn’t see regularly.

“The serves and returns are the biggest difference,” he explained. “They hit more aces and get more first serves in, so it’s way more difficult to break. And as soon as they get a chance on the second serve, they jump all over it and put pressure on you.”

The Swede will primarily focus on leading the UNLV team to big wins over the next few months, but aims to be competing in pro tournaments regularly when he graduates in May.  Although his eventual goal is to be a staple in Challenger events and beyond, he plans on training like a player at this level for the remainder of his senior year.

“The thing you notice most with these guys is the way they practise and the work they put in, their attitude and the effort they put into their tennis. They’re so focused and put 100 per cent into everything,” said Amilon. “It’s really cool to watch.”

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