Illinois men’s tennis player Kevin Anderson will forgo his senior
season to pursue his professional tennis career, head coach Brad
Dancer announced today. Anderson, who had amazing success on the
United States Tennis Association Challenger and Futures circuits
this summer, added to his accomplishments by qualifying for his
first ATP Tour event at New Haven the last of nine tournament stops
during the 2007 US Open Series.
“Hands down this had been the toughest decision I have ever had to
make,” Anderson said. “In the end, I had to take the team aspect out
of the equation. If I had factored in the guys and the coaches, it
would never have been a question of if I was leaving. But at the end
of the day, I had to just think about the tennis and what was best
for my career. My tennis career is what I have been working towards
and I felt like this was the best decision for me at this time in my
The Illini junior is coming off a stellar 2007 collegiate season,
leading the Illinois men’s tennis team to an NCAA runner-up
performance. Anderson also was a semifinalist in the NCAA singles
bracket and finished runner-up in the NCAA doubles draw with partner
Ryan Rowe. A unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten team, Anderson
was voted the Big Ten Player of the Year, named the 2007 ITA Player
to Watch, was the Big Ten’s automatic singles and doubles qualifier
to the NCAA Tournament and finished his career a three-time
All-American in singles and two-time All-American in doubles.
“Over the last two years it has been a recurring question about me
leaving early,” Anderson said. ”I didn’t feel ready the past couple
of years, but I felt like my hard work over that time period has now
paid off. Working with Brad has been amazing. He has really helped
me improve my game on every level. I was just at a point in my life
when I felt I was ready to take the next step in my career by
The summer for the Johannesburg, South Africa native included
appearances in three USTA tournament singles finals (USA F12, USA
F13, Winnetka), winning his first American Futures singles crown at
the 2007 Trius Technologies 15,000 USA F13 Futures event in
Sacramento, Calif. His success propelled him to his highest career
ranking of No. 310 in the world on July 9, and he currently sits at
No. 346 heading into the final months of the US hard court season.
Anderson, pairing with former Illini Ryler DeHeart, also appeared in
one doubles final at the USA F13 Futures event in Sacramento.
The 2007 Big Ten Player of the Year is the fourth-highest ranked
South African on the tour, and before his announcement, was the
highest ranked collegiate player in the country.
In his most recent tournament at New Haven, Anderson battled into
his first ATP main draw, defeating No. 1240 Luis Manuel Flores
(Mexico) in the opening round of qualifying, 6-4, 6-3, before
meeting No. 88 Chris Guccione of Australia in the second round.
Facing his toughest opponent yet, Anderson remained calm and
collected en route to a three-set upset of Guccione, 6-2, 6-7(11),
7-6(5), before dismissing No. 373 Cecil Mamiit of the Philippines in
the third and final qualifying round, 7-5, 6-1.
From there, Anderson met No. 41-ranked Arnaud Clement of France in
the first round, falling short in a 6-1, 6-4 setback at the hands of
a former World top-10 player and 2001 Australian Open finalist.
“I was two spots out of making the qualifying tournament at the US
Open, so now I have 2-3 weeks of just training,” Anderson said about
his upcoming schedule. “After that, I have Challenger events in New
Orleans, Lubbock, Texas and Tulsa, Okla. Until then, I will be
making my base out of Champaign, so I will still be around to hit
with the guys and keep up with Illinois tennis family.”
While becoming one of the most talented players Illinois has ever
produced, Anderson is the only player not returning from a
championship-hungry Illinois squad that that made the NCAA finals a
year ago. The returning roster includes singles and doubles
All-American Rowe, veteran seniors Ruben Gonzales and Brandon Davis,
NCAA All-Tournament team selection junior Marc Spicijaric,
sophomores Billy Heiser and Jordan Knue, and a talented incoming
freshmen class of Calon Alpar, Connor Roth and Abe Souza.
“I am disappointed that Kevin is not returning but at the same time
thrilled for him and his future,” Dancer said. “I am really looking
forward to keeping tabs on Kevin’s professional career. He is a
great player and has a lot in store for his future. But I know and
believe in the end, his heart will always bleed Orange and Blue.”
Illinois tennis fans can keep track of Anderson and the rest of
Illinois’ alumni on the professional tour as they gear up for the
2007 US Open by visiting fightingillini.com or atptennis.com in the
Qualifying has already begun at the fourth and final Grand Slam of
the year, the US Open, taking place at the USTA Billy Jean King
National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
Former Illini No. 205 Rajeev Ram, No. 242 Brian Wilson and No. 381
Ryler DeHeart all were in action in the qualifying singles first
round. At time of release, Ram had suffered a first-round loss at
the hands of No. 120 Paul Capdeville of Chile, 6-4, 6-4, while
DeHeart was still awaiting the completion of his match set to return
to court later this evening as he trails No. 357 Lester Cook of the
United States 7-6(5), 5-6 in his opening-round match. Rounding out
the scores, Wilson was victorious over No. 295 Grega Zemlja of
Slovenia 6-4, 7-6(5) and will face No. 180 Bruno Echagaray of Mexico
in the second round.
2003 NCAA Champion and former Illini No. 70 Amer Delic also will be
in attendance, but due to his top-100 World ranking, he gained
automatic entrance into the main draw. Delic will face 16th-seed
Lleyton Hewitt of Australia in the first round beginning on Aug. 27.
Doubles draws for the US Open, running Aug. 27-Sept. 9, will be
announced on Sunday, Aug. 27.
Can't find what you're looking for? Try Google