Four Illini highlight preseason rankings

Four Illini highlight preseason rankings

By Eric Chima

Four members of the Illini men’s tennis team were given nods in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s preseason rankings Friday, including juniors Kevin Anderson and Ryan Rowe, who were named the No. 1 doubles team in the country.

Anderson led the way in the singles ranks, coming in at No. 17. Rowe followed at No. 48, with senior GD Jones close behind at No. 58. Jones and sophomore Marc Spicijaric were ranked No. 55 in doubles.

Coach Brad Dancer downplayed the rankings, saying there was little merit behind them.

“We don’t put a lot of stock in the rankings,” Dancer said. “The bottom line is that they don’t mean as much as the end-of-season ones.”

The rankings earned Rowe and Anderson a spot in the main doubles draw of the Polo Ralph Lauren All-American Tennis Championship in early October. Anderson also received a spot in the main singles draw, but Rowe narrowly missed out, coming in as the third alternate.

Instead, Rowe will try to make it into the 64-person field through the qualifying tournament held beforehand. Other potential qualifiers include GD Jones in singles and the teams of Jones and Spicijaric, and junior Brandon Davis and freshman Billy Heiser in doubles. Spicijaric, Davis, Heiser and freshman Sasha Kharkevitch will all play in the pre-qualifying draw for the singles competition.

Rowe’s position was Dancer’s only complaint about the rankings, which he called “essentially an entry form” for the All-American Championships. He said he had hoped Rowe would be ranked high enough to automatically make the main draw.

The ITA hasn’t released team rankings yet, so the team members must focus on their individual marks for now. Anderson, the highest-ranked Illini, downplayed their importance.

“To be honest with you, I don’t really follow the singles rankings,” Anderson said. “I’m only interested in the team ones – and even then, it doesn’t matter until the championships.”