Aron Pilbart made his debut at a national tennis championship.
Pilbart, a former member of the Penticton Tennis Club, defeated No. 1 Niagara’s Stefan Simeunovic 7-5 and 6-1 to finish third in the 2016 Under 12 Indoor Rogers Junior Nationals in Calgary, March 26 to April 1.
“It was fantastic. First time going to nationals and usually the first time is just for the experience,” said Pilbart, whose family now resides in Vancouver. “They (opponents) were all really good, especially my last one.”
Pilbart said playing for third was quite big, but he pushed that aside and played his game.
“Played great tennis, never giving up,” he said.
The performance in Calgary gives him confidence as he said now every player from provincial teams know him.
Pilbart opened the junior nationals by defeating No. 9 Adrian Smith, 6-2 and 6-3. After losing a single and doubles matchup, Pilbart earned three straight wins before losing a match that set up the game with Simeunovic.
“It was pretty awesome because usually you don’t win that many,” said Pilbart.
As the matches got bigger, Pilbart said he learned how to handle pressure, adding that every match is so important. Along with playing, Pilbart enjoyed meeting the players in the championship.
Since moving from Penticton to the Lower Mainland, Pilbart, a member of Tennis B.C., trains nearly 16 hours a week at the North Vancouver Training Centre. Being on the provincial team allows him to train and play more as well as making friends. Pilbart is ranked third in the province for U12 boys and eighth, nationally.
Pilbart’s efforts in Calgary earned him an invite to join the team for a friendly event in Las Vegas on May 13.
He also competed at an international tournament in Palm Springs, Cali. where he lost in the championship match.
On Monday, Pilbart secured his first sponsorship with Wilson, which provides him with equipment.