June 6, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee men's tennis head coach Sam Winterbotham announced the signing of Igor Smilansky on Friday.
Smilansky, from Israel, has already found success on the ITF Futures circuit. He comes to the Vols with a career-high ATP World Tour ranking of No. 721 in singles and No. 808 in doubles.
"He's proving he's capable of playing at a high level," Winterbotham said. "He has plans to become a professional tennis player. It's exciting to us as coaches to work with guys with that mentality. We have a track record of those kinds of guys being successful here. He will grow his game here at UT.
"He's going to have an immediate impact on our program."
Smilansky notably reached the singles finals of the ITF Futures event last summer in Herzlia, Israel. He has progressed to the quarterfinals or beyond in four singles tournaments.
In addition to his ITF singles success, Smilansky has appeared in four doubles finals.
"Igor has great character," Winterbotham said. "He is really looking forward to playing as a part of a team. It's not all about him. He loves playing doubles as well."
During his career in the junior circuit, Smilansky achieved a career-high ITF world junior ranking of 87. He won two singles titles and three doubles titles, including the Grade 1 doubles title at the ITF Junior Open in Linz, Austria. He also represented Israel in the Junior Davis Cup.
Smilansky joins two other newcomers for the 2014-15 season.
Jess Jones (Warner Robins, Ga.) and Luis Valero (Cali, Colombia) signed with the Vols last month. Jones has been listed as high as 12th nationally by tennisrecruiting.net and will be the third Georgia native on the UT roster next year, along with seniors Hunter Reese and Andrew Dromsky. Valero, currently ranked No. 87 in the ITF world junior rankings, has won three titles since coming back from a wrist injury that sidelined him for six months.
Jack Schipanski, from Adelaide, Australia, joined the team in January but will start playing next year. Before arriving at UT, Schipanski achieved a career-high ATP world tour singles ranking of 860.
With Smilansky and Schipanski, the Vols will enter next season with three players on the roster with career-high ATP singles rankings inside the top 900. In one month of tournaments last summer, rising senior Mikelis Libietis vaulted from almost no ranking to No. 677.
"This is capping off one of the best recruiting classes we've had here," Winterbotham said. "We're bringing in solid, high character guys. We're excited about their talent and helping them all reach their goals."