Nov. 16, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee men's tennis program picked up its second signee of the fall with the addition of top Estonian junior Markus Kerner.
Kerner, a 17-year-old right-hander from Estonia's capital city of Tallinn, is scheduled to join the Vols next August alongside Tennessee native Sean Karl.
For head coach Sam Winterbotham, Kerner's upsides are obvious from his personality off the court to his potential on it. Kerner has a tall frame and wields a big game, which the Vols' coach believes will only improve during his time in Knoxville.
"Markus comes from a wonderful family that values education, but they also want him to be able to pursue his dream of becoming a professional tennis player," Winterbotham said. "He's a brilliant guy. Extremely bright. We know he's going to be successful here in school and in tennis."
During the second half of the year, Kerner has primarily played on the ITF Futures circuit. He qualified and won matches in three Futures events already and has a career-best ATP World Tour singles ranking of 1297.
"For somebody at 17 to already have three ATP points, that's impressive in itself," Winterbotham said.
On the junior stage, Kerner has a career-high ranking of 273 in the ITF Junior world rankings. He competed at the Australian Open Boys competition in January.
In addition to earning his degree, Kerner is set on honing his skills for the professional ranks. Tennessee has become a good place to do just that of late. John-Patrick Smith, Rhyne Williams and Tennys Sandgren -- all members of the 2011 team -- have all steadily climbed into the top 250 of the ATP world singles rankings.
"The college system is perfect for Markus," Winterbotham said. "He has a big game and needs time to develop, and that will happen here at Tennessee."
While Kerner will be the first Vol ever from Estonia, but he won't be the only representative of eastern Europe. All-SEC sophomore Mikelis Libietis hails from neighboring Latvia and was also the top junior in his country when he arrived at Tennessee.