Jordan Smith, who has been a part of the K-State women’s tennis program since 2015, was named the seventh head tennis coach in program history Monday, as announced by K-State director of athletics Gene Taylor. According to a release from K-State Athletics.
Smith just completed his third season at K-State, serving as assistant coach for two seasons before being promoted to associate head coach in January 2018. He replaces Danielle Steinberg, who was introduced as the head coach of Colorado on June 12 after four years at K-State. Smith had been serving as interim head coach following Steinberg’s departure.
“After a thorough national search that produced a tremendous pool of candidates, we are excited to announce the promotion of Jordan to head coach of our women’s tennis program,” Taylor said. “His experience in helping build our program into a NCAA Tournament team and his reputation around the Big 12 and amongst his peers set him apart from other candidates. One of the up-and-coming coaches in the game, Jordan will also provide a continuity factor that will allow for a seamless transition and we are looking forward to continuing to advance our program under his leadership.”
Smith, who had his first Tennis Lessons at just 4 years old, explained his excitement for his upcoming role.
“I would like to thank Gene Taylor, Jill Shields and Scott Garrett for allowing me to have this opportunity,” said Smith. “Also, I want to thank Danielle Steinberg for bringing me on board three years ago. From the moment I arrived at K-State, I knew this was going to be a special place for me.
“I look forward to continuing the success that Coach Steinberg and I have built over the last few years,” Smith added. “We have a great group of student-athletes here and we are excited to continue bringing national recognition to the K-State tennis program.”
Smith has helped the Wildcats rise to new heights and garner national recognition, as the program has risen each year under his watch. 2018 saw the Cats reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003, reaching the Round of 32 after they defeated No. 26 Kentucky, 4-3.
K-State broke into the national rankings this season on February 23 and reached a ranking as high as No. 28 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) poll, the highest team ranking since 2003. It was the Cats’ first week inside the ITA’s team rankings since 2014 and K-State remained ranked for the rest of the season, ending the year as the country’s 39th-ranked program.
A well-known recruiter, Smith played a large role in bringing the nation’s No. 14 recruiting class to Manhattan for the 2017-18 season, according to TennisRecruiting.net. The national recruiting recognition was the highest of any Big 12 program in 2017 and best in K-State history.
The young talent propelled K-State to one of its most successful seasons in recent history. During the spring campaign, the Wildcats equaled the second-highest win total in school history as it posted a 15-11 (4-5 Big 12) record. The Cats finished tied for fifth in the league standings, their first top-five finish in 12 seasons.
In the 2017 fall season, the Cats picked up a total of five individual tournament titles and combined for a 44-27 singles mark and a 41-18 doubles record. Four Wildcat freshmen posted a collective record of 25-11 in singles play while going 25-7 in doubles, with a total of four victories over nationally ranked opponents.
Several Wildcats received conference and regional recognition during their historic 2018 campaign. Maria Linares was tabbed Big 12 Freshman of the Year after a team-best 14-7 singles record from the No. 2 spot. Margot Decker, also a freshman, was named to the league’s Second Team in both singles and doubles with her playing partner, senior Carolina Costamagna. Decker and Linares each also earned All-Freshman Team nods.
Four freshmen occupied the Wildcats’ singles lineup, compiling a combined 44-35 mark. Decker, playing at the top position, reached a national ranking of 104 during season and had four victories over ITA-ranked opponents.
Additionally, the ITA has recognized the Wildcats with all-academic team honors from each season under Smith. Ines Mesquita was selected to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team while Linares and Rosanna Maffei and Anna Turco were each earned spots on the Big 12’s Academic All-Rookie Team.
Prior to his time at K-State, Smith most recently served as an assistant with the Middle Tennessee State men’s tennis program, where he helped the Blue Raiders to a 13-13 record while also being responsible for the 25th-best recurring class in 2015.