Behind The Racquet: Jared Hiltzik

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When growing up, in order to play tennis at a high level, you need to have some money in your family.

My mom had cancer three times. First diagnosed when I was around ten. It had a large strain on my family.

When reflecting on it, I wonder if I didn’t play tennis, would my parents be happier, since financials wouldn’t be an issue?

Growing up on the north shore, people assume you have a lot of money. Regardless of what my parents did for a living, between three battles with cancer, doctor bills really built up. It took a major toll, forcing my family to take out multiple mortgages on the house.

It is still really tough since they still cannot help me financially, nor would I ask them too. It has been extremely tough for my brother and I. They sacrificed everything for us to play tennis. They sacrificed their relationship for us.

I remember going back home freshman year of college and there was constant fighting about finances. After some time I just left my house for six hours, sat in my car in a parking lot and just sobbed, not knowing why this was happening.

I didn’t know how bad it was. I finally spoke to my dad and heard the truth behind all the medical expenses. We couldn’t afford it anymore. My mom’s brother had a stroke and passed away. Throughout the stroke, my grandmother supported my uncle and had no money left saved. Now my mom is taking care of my grandmother, who was recently diagnosed with parkinsonism and needed to move into assisted living.

There isn’t much money left. It’s tough to go back home even now. It doesn’t take long when I get back to notice the same old issues. I kind of had to be a leader within my family, cosigning on my dad’s car. It has all made me extremely aware of finances. Constantly thinking of the repercussions when financials aren’t in order.

I always continue to find ways to help support myself and Heather, so we never have to feel that burden. Heather’s family has a history of cancer, and so does mine, which will always put things in perspective.

— Jared Hiltzik (University of Illinois 2016)

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