'Accident recruit' Anderson keeping Arizona on top

Power. Strength.

Dedication. Dominance.

These are the words that describe UA men's tennis player Jan Anderson.

The left-handed sensation from Hamar, Norway, Anderson started to play tennis when he was just seven years old, and was in tournaments by the age of 12.

Anderson, a 6-foot-3 junior, is considered by many to be one of the most powerful singles-player prospects in the collegiate rankings.

However, his collegiate career did not begin in Tucson but in Lincoln, Neb., where as a freshman he attended the University of Nebraska.

As a Cornhusker, Anderson performed on the court like he could not even imagine. He finished his first year as an All-Big Eight Conference selection, won the Big Eight singles championship for third-seeded players, and also was an Academic All-Big Eight member.

But despite the accolades, he expressed an interest in leaving Nebraska following his freshman year.

A couple of friends whom he played against in the Big Eight told an assistant from another school about Anderson during an airline flight from the NCAA tournament two years ago. That coach told Wildcat coach Bill Wright about Anderson.

"Wright returned to work here and he found my release on the top of his desk," Anderson said. "It is such a coincidence accident they called me."

Soon afterward, Anderson transferred to Arizona, and Wright immediately knew he had a player who had the potential to be extremely successful both on and off the court.

"He is a very hard-working, high-strung, dedicated person and he has really thought about what he wants to do. He has goals," Wright said. "Anderson is one of the most explosive players to play against. I have seen him go through streaks were the balls are unreturnable. The (opponent) just doesn't want to play with him anymore.

"Anderson is in complete control of his own destiny on the court. His serve is so well-hit and he hits the ball so hard it is hard to stop him. When you know your best player is as good as anybody else's best player, that is a nice way to go into it. Better than the other way around."

Anderson, who now has

one full year under his

belt at Arizona, played in the No. 1 position for the Wildcats throughout last season compiling a record of 20-9. He was an All-American and an All-Pacific 10 Conference selection. He was also a finalist in the Skytel Clay Court Championships and the only Wildcat to play in the NCAA Singles Championships.

"It was very inspirational to play Pac-10 tennis, to meet the best players in the country and say to myself, 'You can compete with these guys, and when I know that some of these guys are going on the tour, some of them will make it, so why can't I?'"

Another question on the minds of many collegiate tennis players is: "Can I really make it as a pro player?"

Anderson, however, said he wants to make it through college successfully before setting his sights on a professional career.

"College is very important to myself," said Anderson, who is extremely busy with his education and has consistently earned 4.0 grade-point averages and academic honors throughout his college career.

Becoming a professional tennis player takes long hours of dedication and commitment from the individual to even have a chance.

"You have to want it so bad and it is awfully hard. You have to be very hungry for it and I do not know if I have that hunger yet. Hopefully, I will get it," Anderson said. "Being a professional tennis player is a loner life. You travel alone and in college you have your team and that is what I like."

Anderson looks forward to spending the 1995 season as the team's No. 1 player.

"Right now, I am really looking forward to the season. There will be a lot of great matches and I think it will make me a much better player if I work on the right things, experimenting a little bit," Anderson said.

As the seventh-ranked player in the country, Anderson deals with pressure his own way.

"I am just going to try and play the best that I can and go from there," Anderson said. "I do not want any more additional pressure on myself when I am playing."

Despite all of his accomplishments so far in his young college career, Anderson hopes he will soon achieve several more of his goals.

The so-called "accident

recruit" from a town in

Norway could very well be the dominant force to lead the Wildcat squad in their quest for a return trip to the NCAA tournament.

"It would be great to make it one day," Anderson said. "Everyone in America has the attitude that anything can be done. A lot of people have faith in me and I am flattered by that, but it is just I need to push myself a little bit more. I feel that inspiration coming real soon."

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