April 16, 2008

Smetona stocking-up victories, bonding with brother

Joe Smetona playing tennis

The University Circle area certainly won't have a shortage of Smetona's in the coming years, because not only do senior Joe Smetona and his brother John play tennis here at Case Western Reserve University, but there are likely four more Smetona siblings on the way to campus, all of whom plan on playing tennis for the Spartans.

"Someone will have to make a 'Smetona Shrine' somewhere after we leave here with all of our pictures around the room," joked Joe Smetona.

So far this season, Joe Smetona has played great tennis and helped the Case Western Reserve men's team post an 11-1 record this spring. Individually, he is 10-3 and ranked 19th in the Central Region by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) and has aspirations of making it to the NCAA Division-III Tennis Championships in May.

"I've had a positive experience this year and it will be nice to end the season on a good note," Smetona said. "About 32 people go to the [NCAA] tournament, so it's going to come down to how I do in UAA Tournament. If I can play well there and finish among the top then I have a chance."

In doubles competition, Joe takes the court with his brother, a sophomore, and together, the two have posted a 7-2 record. But even though they take the court together, a sibling rivalry still exists between the two.

"I've always been able to beat him ever since we started playing, so when he starts beating me is when I'll have to start worrying," laughed Joe. "I don't mind playing with him as long as he follows my advice. We've only lost one match so far, so other than that it's been pretty good and I think we've improved since last year."

But the Smetona legacy won't end with Joe or John. Their two brothers, Peter and Paul, and two younger sisters, Theresa and Ann, all likely could be on their way to Case Western Reserve, and all know how to handle a tennis racquet.

"My dad [Julius] played tennis here at Case [alum, 1976] and was a lifelong tennis player and introduced us to the game," Joe said. "My mom [Kathy] is the only one in the family who isn't a tennis player. On my dad's side, my grandparents played."

A mechanical engineering and philosophy major here at the University, Joe will graduate with over 160 credit hours in May, and in July, he plans on starting graduate school at Columbia University where he'll studying financial engineering.

After Columbia, he envisions a career on Wall Street.

"A lot of people go into training for risk management and modeling that goes along with trading practices, but for me, I think being on the trading floor would be fun," Smetona said.

Smetona says the program he's enrolled in at Columbia is a hybrid between applied math and quantitative finance, which he believes will prepare him for the fast-paced Wall Street environment.

"A lot of people on Wall Street now are trying to model the future and predict what's going to happen," he said. "Since it has become a quantitatively complicated world, many math majors and engineers are being recruited to work there."

But before he gets to Wall Street, he and the Spartans will look to finish this season on a strong note.

Winning at the UAAs won't be an easy task for the Spartans, as the conference currently boasts nationally ranked teams in Washington University (No. 2), Emory University (No. 6), Carnegie Mellon University (No. 17),and the University of Chicago (No. 18). The Spartans also have a match remaining with Kenyon College (No. 7) this spring.

"As a team we've always finished at the bottom of the conference, so it will be nice if we can have a good showing," Smetona said.

The Spartans will head to Gambier on Apr. 19 to face the Lords of Kenyon College before traveling to Atlanta, Ga. for the 2008 UAA Tennis Championships on Apr. 24-27.

For more information contact Creg Jantz, 216.368.6517.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, April 16, 2008 10:14 AM | News Topics: Athletics, Case School of Engineering, College of Arts and Sciences, HeadlinesMain, Students, features

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