Kevin Anderson named Big Ten’s Player of the Week

John Paul Goguen The Daily Illini ME Online

John Paul Goguen The Daily Illini ME Online

By Eric Chima

Kevin Anderson, Illinois’ top men’s tennis player, has earned his share of honors through two and a half years with the Illini, but he doesn’t pay much attention to them. Sometimes he doesn’t even notice.

Anderson was named the Big Ten Player of the Week on Wednesday after notching a tough win over the No. 33-ranked player in the country, Andre Begemann of Pepperdine, last Friday. But when asked about the award, the No. 23-ranked Anderson wasn’t even aware he had won – and was unsure whether he had earned the title before.

It was actually the third time Anderson has been named player of the week, but while he said he was honored by the award, he would rather look ahead than think about his accomplishments.

“I actually had no idea,” Anderson said. “It’s always good to be recognized for my past performance, but that’s come and gone, and I’m just thinking about my next match.”

Head coach Brad Dancer credited Anderson’s progression for keeping him above his Big Ten competition. The junior has now won the award once each year, all while steadily moving up in the lineup and facing tougher competition.

“It’s just another feather in the cap for Anderson,” Dancer said. “His footwork continues to improve, his swing speed is improving, and his mental tenacity is improving. He’s still got to work on all the little things, but each aspect of his game continues to improve, and I think with that path he’s on he’s going to continue to garner even more player of the week honors.”

Anderson will have a chance to notch another quality win this week, as he’s likely to face eighth-ranked Somdev Devvarman of Virginia when the two teams square off on Sunday. Devvarman was the runner-up for the NCAA singles championship last year.

“Devvarman’s a tough match for Kevin, because he’s really quick and gets a ton of balls back,” Dancer said. “He’s going to bother Kevin with his speed, so it’ll be a really good match.”

For his part, Anderson wasn’t thinking about his award or a potential match with Devvarman – not with a match against Ball State coming up first.

“I don’t really think about who I’m playing against in the future,” Anderson said. “We’re playing Ball State on Friday, and that’s all I’m thinking about.”