Going home was tempting for Kevin Anderson, and no one would’ve blamed him. Anderson’s having his best year as a professional tennis player, and with just a few weeks off, why not rest up?
But Anderson instead opted to play with the World Tennis Team’s Washington Kastles for their first two home matches, his booming serve boosting them to a 25-10 win over the Philadelphia Freedoms.
“It’s very different to playing on the Tour,” Anderson said. “In some ways, it’s even a bit more stressful. There’s such a team environment.”
Anderson’s ATP singles ranking is up to a career-high No, 17, and he got the Kastles (4-0) out to an early 5-2 lead in a match that saw Washington win all five of its sets. Facing Philadelphia’s Frank Dancevic, Anderson’s 130-mph-ace gave him the early advantage. Though Dancevic equaled Anderson at two games apiece, Anderson went on to win the next three games to take the set.
The big South African played with the Kastles for four matches last summer, and he’s advanced to the fourth round at five of the past seven Grand Slams, most recently Wimbledon.
“Even if you took away his serve, the way he moves on the court for being 6-foot-8, he moves like a small guy,” said the Kastles’ Bobby Reynolds. “You don’t find that too often with big guys.”
The Kastles would prefer Anderson keep his serve. After Martina Hingis beat 18-year-old rising star Taylor Townsend in five games, the Kastles took a 20-7 lead into the final mixed-doubles set. Washington Coach Murphy Jensen started Anderson with Hingis, and three aces and an overhead smash by Anderson later, the Kastles were up 4-0 in the first game.
Jensen substituted Leander Paes for Anderson. As Anderson walked to the bench, he asked Jensen if he had done enough.
“It’s definitely my biggest strength,” Anderson said. “I’m at the stage where I feel like I’ve got one of the best serves in the world.”
Anderson said his serve is the strongest part of his game, but he’s hoping to improve on the little details. Now that he’s gotten his Kastles fix, Anderson will return home to Delray Beach, Fla., before hoping to continue his climb up the tennis rankings.
“I think it’s important to remember that it is a journey,” Anderson said. “I just really feel like my game’s improving steadily and that’s been a big focus of mine. There’s still a lot more I want to achieve.”