Former Illini tennis player helps Washington franchise set record.
He’s ranked a career-best 22nd in the world, has made $735,887 and is 8-3 in Grand Slam matches.
But the real headline-maker of former Illini Kevin Anderson’s tennis season occurred Tuesday night as a member of the Washington Kastles of World TeamTennis (WTT).
“Definitely something I’ll remember,” Anderson said.
The Kastles set a record for longest winning streak in U.S. pro sports history when they won their 34th consecutive match, 25-12 against the Boston Lobsters. The Kastles, helped by Anderson’s win in singles, broke a tie with Wilt Chamberlain’s Los Angeles Lakers, who won 33 straight in 1971-72, and prompted congratulations from current Lakers executive Jeanie Buss.
“It’s neat to be a part of,” said Anderson, who won an NCAA doubles championship at Illinois, “even though the rest of the guys did the grunt of the work.”
Anderson said his contributions to the streak probably deserve an asterisk. He joined the Kastles for wins Nos. 33 and 34.
“Even though I didn’t go through the whole process, it’s a good experience and fun to be part of,” Anderson said. “It’s a terrific achievement what they’ve done.”
Anderson has WTT experience, leading the Sacramento Capitals to a runner-up finish as a league rookie in 2012. He is scheduled to play four matches for the Kastles.
So far, so good.
“Tennis is enjoying some amazing popularity right now,” Anderson said. “This streak is part of it.”
Anderson, the most accomplished former Illini in the sport, reached the fourth round of this year’s first two majors and the third round of Wimbledon in what has been the 27-year-old’s strongest season yet. He is hoping to improve his all-time record in Grand Slams (18-18) at the U.S. Open in August.
“There are a lot of matches between now and then,” he said. “I just need to keep improving.”