News & Features
Young and Old Illini Meet at Alumni Reunion
by Marcia Frost, 22 November 2010
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The Khan Outdoor Complex of the Atkins Tennis Center was full of activity this fall as the University of Illinois hosted courts filled with alumni.
It was a mix of old and new as the current team played on court with recent alumni like Ryan Rowe, Ruben Gonzales, Brian Livingston, Brandon Davis and Marek Czerwinski, as well as players like Kevin Schwartz and Brady Blain from the 1997 and 1998. It was a family affair, with lots of Illini children running around, and it marked the first appearance of the youngest team member, five-day-old Jackson Dancer, whose dad and Assistant Coach Marcos Asse orchestrated the play as if it was a dual match competition.
Head Coach Brad Dancer was grateful for all the players that made it back. "It's incredible to have you guys back here in support of the team," he told the group. He recognized all of the players who had come back to Champaign-Urbana, starting with the school's very first NCAA champions, Cary Franklin and Graydon Oliver, who won the doubles title in 2000. That would be the first of three, as Rajeev Ram and Brian Wilson also picked up that crown for the Illini in 2003, and Kevin Anderson and Ryan Rowe did it in 2006.
Dancer has continued in the direction of Craig Tiley, who put the school on the map with national titles and, even more important, the excitement of college tennis. It was Tiley who showed that you could get a thousand people to watch a tennis match - even if the courts were between the farms and corn fields. The tradition has continued since Dancer took over in 2005 and made an NCAA run to the finals with his 2007 team.
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