One would be forgiven for not knowing where to find Estonia on a map.
It's a little country in Northern Europe bordered by the Baltic Sea.
One product of the small European country is one that all UT men's tennis fans are quickly learning to adore – freshman Markus Kerner.
Last week's SEC Freshman of the Week has been a revelation for the Vols this season, amassing undefeated records in the No. 6 singles, 7-0, and No. 3 doubles position, 8-0, alongside Georgia Southern transfer Andrew Dromsky.
Although UT suffered its first dual match defeat of the season at No. 29 Oklahoma State over the weekend, Kerner won his doubles match and was in a good position to win in singles matchup two games in the third set before the hosts secured the overall victory at 4-2. He went on to win both his singles and doubles matches in convincing fashion against No. 34 Tulsa on Sunday.
Head coach Sam Winterbotham has been impressed by the new addition to the Vols' lineup and is very happy about how he is fitting in with the rest of the squad.
"He loves the dual match format," Winterbotham said. "He's really enjoying being part of a team.
"In Tulsa, he was the loudest guy on the court; the one giving the positive energy to his teammates. So it's no surprise that he's doing well."
Winterbotham received a tip about Kerner from fellow Baltic player and UT standout Mikelis Libietis. The Latvian won a doubles title with the freshman on the ITF Futures circuit – the third tier of professional tennis – over the summer.
Both were the top-ranked juniors in their countries before arriving in Knoxville.
"After Mikelis told me about Markus, I contacted him and went over to visit with his family," Winterbotham said. "He likes to talk a lot so we had a lot of long conversations. I got to know him and felt really comfortable about him. When I watched him play and watched his results I saw great potential in him."
Despite his early success, Kerner said he didn't set a goal for the spring season and is just excited about being part of the team.
"I didn't have many expectations," Kerner said. "I've just tried to focus and work as hard as I can. I really, really care about this team and I will always give as much of myself to get a point for us."
In terms of his game, it's quite clear what makes Kerner so good. Like his 6-foot-6 doubles partner Dromsky – the pair are known as the Twin Towers – his tennis style is founded on the kind of power that can very easily overwhelm even the toughest opponents.
"My game is based on a big serve and a big forehand," Kerner said. "I think I move on the court really well for a tall guy, too. And I am a really strong fighter on the court."
While the Estonian freshman continues to adjust to life at UT, it already seems obvious that he will form a key part of a team that was ranked No. 6 in the country prior to last weekend's loss and was in the NCAA team final as recently as 2010.
Kerner and UT will be in action against No. 13 Duke at 6 p.m. Friday night at Goodfriend Tennis Center.