As the No. 7–ranked tennis player in the world (as of this writing), Kevin Anderson knows something about life in the spotlight. So last December, the former record-setting Illini tennis player and three-time All-American decided to use his celebrity to promote Kevin Anderson’s Grand Slam Cause for the Paws, which generated more than $120,000 for Dezzy’s Second Chance Animal Rescue, a no-kill shelter in Boca Raton, Fla. (The event also raised funds for the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Alliance.)
The inspiration for the event came from Lady Kady, a little black-and-tawny chiweenie (part Chihuahua and part dachshund) that Kevin and his wife, Kelsey, ’09 BUS, adopted from Dezzy’s Second Chance in 2017. Since then, Lady Kady has become a cherished part of the family, as well as a beloved character on the tennis circuit, evidenced by her Instagram account with nearly 5,000 followers.
Kevin and Kelsey (who serves as Kevin’s personal manager) spend more than half of the year traveling to tennis tournaments, and Lady Kady is their comfort creature. “We spend so much time on the road,” says Kevin, who was inducted into the inaugural class of the Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018. “Bringing Lady Kady along makes it feel like we have a piece of home on the road.”
Those feelings motivated the couple to do something to help other dogs in need. The Grand Slam Cause for the Paws, held at the Boca Grove Country Club, drew tennis phenoms such as twins Bob and Mike Bryan, Genie Bouchard, Tennys Sandgren, Shelby Rogers and Sébastien Grosjean. Around 200 attendees watched a few tennis sets, bid in a silent auction and enjoyed a dinner with live music. Comedian and “Daily Show” correspondent Michael Kosta, ’02 LAS—also a former Illini tennis player—emceed the event.
Kevin says that he’s proud of the fundraiser. He and Kelsey have already started to dream up the next one. By supporting the shelter, they hope other families will find joy in canine companionship. In fact, Kelsey believes that Lady Kady might even be a good luck charm.
“I joke that dog adoption has been great for Kevin’s tennis results,” Kelsey says. “He’s reached two major finals since her rescue.”