Illinois tennis signs standout to team

By Amber Greviskes

Brad Dancer inked the first recruit of his tenure at the helm of the Illinois tennis teamMonday.

Alexander “Sasha” Kharkevitch of Houston, Texas, will join the Illini beginning next fall.

“Sasha is someone who we feel has the physical strength to come in and compete at the highest level right away,” Dancer said. “He is coming into his own as a tennis player.”

Kharkevitch is the United States Tennis Association’s No. 2 ranked junior in Texas in the 18-and-under division. Last year, he was nationally ranked as high as No. 24 for the 16-and-under division.

Dancer said, he believes that Kharkevitch’s personality will also be an asset.

“He’s got some spunk to him too,” Dancer said. “You always want guys who are going to fit into the team, but he’s going to bring his own personality to the team as well.”

But, Dancer said, he expects Kharkevitch, who began playing tennis at age five, to improve throughout the course of the next year because of his current training environment. Kharkevitch is an aggressive baseliner with a big serve and a powerful forehand that Dancer said will “make an immediate impact with us next year and help continue our tradition of excellence.”

Kharkevitch’s most impressive recent results include reaching the singles quarterfinals of the International Tennis Federation Pan-American Closed tournament in Tulsa, Okla. He also reached the singles semifinal of the ITF Chanda Rubin Illinois tournament, which was held at the Atkins Tennis Center earlier this year.

“That was a huge part of the sell,” Dancer said. “He came here and he was impressed with the facility, impressed with how hard our guys were working and with what we are trying to do here.”

He has also been a finalist at the Gator Bowl and the USTA National Open in Midland, Texas.

Kharkevitch, who trains with former Illini Royce Ramey (1999-2000), said he is excited about the opportunity to work with Dancer and Illinois assistant coach Kent Kinnear in the future, especially after his visit to the University.

“When I visited Illinois, I knew this was the place for me – everything seemed to click,” he said.