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Illini Tennis Reunited in Miami



Mar 9, 2023; Indian Wells, CA, USA; Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) during his round one match against Stan Wawrinka (not pictured) on day 4 of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Former Illini Tennis teammates will face off in Miami.

The University of Illinois has produced some outstanding talents in professional tennis. Former Illini, Kevin Anderson was a top-10 player in the world. Rajeev Ram is an Olympic Silver Medalist and won multiple grand slams on the professional level. They have also made consistent appearances in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournaments under coach Brad Dancer.

Currently, two recent alumni are trying to establish themselves on the professional tour. In a sport that has seen American Men’s tennis slowly creep up on the scene, Aleksandar Kovacevic (Class of 2021) and Aleksandar Vukic (class of 2018) are the headliners from the University of Illinois on the professional tour

Where they are at now.

Kovacevic is currently ranked at 102 in the world. The 24 year old declared himself as a professional in 2021 and has shown steady improvement this year on tour. Kovacevic has won 2 Challenger events, which are basically considered the ‘minor-leagues’ of tennis. Most recently, he made the quarterfinals of a Challenger event in Phoenix in which he had a win over former top-8 stallwart, Richard Gasquet. Kovacevic’s smooth ground game and stellar shot-making has been a constant in all of his matches

Vukic has been a professional for longer but is also working his way inside the top-100. Currently, Vukic sits at 168, with his highest ranking being 117 in February 2022. Vukic qualified for the Australian Open two months ago and lost a close 5 set match to another talented American, Brandon Holt.

They now face off in Miami.

Currently, an ATP event is going on Miami. The event is a Master’s series, which is known as the highest level event outside of the 4 annual “Grand Slams”. Players outside of the top-100 usually have to play a challenger draw to get into the event. This includes players like Kovacevic and Vukic having to duke it out for one of the coveted spots in these high-end tournaments. Unfortunately for the two Illini, one of them has to knock the other out to get into the final round of qualifying.

These two players were former teammates during their time at Illinois. It is pretty cool for two former teammates having to face off. Though the stage is not in the actual tournament, I am excited for these two to duke it out. Kovacevic has a smooth, elegant baseline game with delicate shotmaking. Vukic has a sturdy, robust ground game reliant on toughness and grinding it out.

The two contrast in styles proves for an interesting matchup on top of the Illini background. After Illinois basketball’s sad ending to the season, a pleasant story like this resume’s pride in the school. Regardless, Illini nation is hopefully that these two alumni of a strong tennis program can carry the Illini flag into the biggest stages of tennis.

Alex is the Owner of, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is also the lead content creator and lead editor of all articles on Armchair Illini. He has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS Sports and more.