February 5, 2003

Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi in action.After years of effort and work, Israeli tennis player Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi has capped a banner year by achieving the highest ranking ever for an Israeli professional tennis player – breaking into the top 20 as the 15th-best female player in the world.

Smashnova-Pistolesi climbed to her position by winning four tournament titles in finals over the past year. She began the year with a rank of only 87, and her rise reflects a dramatic improvement in her game over the course of the year. She also crossed an important milestone in women?s tennis, by crossing the $1 million mark in career tournament earnings. Her new position qualified her for the Women’s Tennis Association’s Tour Championships for the first time.

The 26-year-old, born in Minsk, emigrated from Belarus to Israel in 1990 with her family her mother Zina, her father Sasha, an engineer, and her brother Zura, today a software analyst. Her move to Israel took place the same year she won the world junior title, after being the No. 1 junior player in the Soviet Union for four consecutive years, since she was ten years old. After graduating high school and completing her army service in 1997, she burst onto the international tennis scene and quickly became one of Israel’s most prominent sports stars, representing the country in international tournaments. Smashnova-Pistolesi has a reputation as one of the sport’s toughest and most determined competitors.

The past year was also important personally for the tennis player. In December, she married her coach – Claudio Pistolesi, an Italian former professional tennis player. Fans were disappointed when she chose to change her name following her marriage – Smashnova had been considered one of the most distinctive names in professional tennis. Despite her marriage to an Italian, Smashnova-Pistolesi has not changed her national loyalties – she will continue to play as an Israeli and represent Israel in team tournaments.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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