Delivery alert

There may be an issue with the delivery of your newspaper. This alert will expire at NaN. Click here for more info.

Recover password

NMSU tennis grad assistant told to stay away from tourney

LAS CRUCES — A New Mexico State graduate assistant tennis coach will not be on hand for this weekend’s tourney in Las Cruces due to an alleged assault he was involved in as a player.

Stas Smirnov is in his first year as a graduate assistant coach for the Aggie women’s tennis team under head coach Emily Wang.

In 2018 while he was a player at the University of the Southwest, Smirnov was arrested on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon after a post-match altercation with opponent Warren Fulgenzi at a tournament in Dallas.

A Texas grand jury did not indict Smirnov, but Fulgenzi is seeking damages in a lawsuit filed in January naming Smirnov and the University of the Southwest. The suit was filed in 4th Judicial District Court in San Miguel County.

Fulgenzi’s sister, Brandelyn Fulgenzi, plays tennis for Incarnate Word, which is slated to compete in the Invitational.

Warren and Brandelyn Fulgenzi are from Las Vegas, New Mexico. The Fulgenzis are the “first family” of northern New Mexico tennis, their participation in the sport spanning generations.

“When we looked at the schedule and saw that there could be a potential conflict between a student athlete and our graduate assistant coach, we have made the decision to not do anything to exacerbate an ongoing situation,” New Mexico State athletics director Mario Moccia said. “We are going to ensure that we will have some separation.”

Moccia and university leadership would not comment further on Smirnov’s status as a grad assistant with the women’s tennis program, stating it’s a personnel matter.

Smirnov passed a background check before Wang hired him, which is according to policy.

The incident in Dallas

Warren Fulgenzi, who played for Our Lady of the Lake, had just defeated Smirnov in singles play and the two players went to their benches after a match at the Arlington Tennis Center on April 27, 2018.

According to police records, “The suspect and victim were engaged in a verbal argument after the conclusion of a tennis match. When the suspect and victim went to shake hands the suspect slapped the hand of the victim escalating the situation. The suspect intentionally and knowingly pushed the victim.”

Smirnov, “then intentionally and knowingly struck the victim in the back of the head multiple times using the tennis racket,” the incident report stated. The injury caused a laceration requiring multiple stitches, according to the report.

The altercation was broken up by Fulgenzi’s teammates.

Smirnov was arrested by Arlington Police.

Fulgenzi suffered from concussion symptoms for the next nine months and was not able to play the next season, according to his father, Warren Fulgenzi Sr. Fulgenzi is currently on the Incarnate Word men’s tennis team.

“Big picture, the guy shouldn’t be a coach,” said Warren Fulgenzi Sr., who lives in Santa Fe. “If you really analyze what happened, he initiated the whole thing and was carrying his racket. If he can do that, what are the rules for.”

Another incident

Fulgenzi Sr. alleges there was another confrontation between the family and Smirnov at a UTSA event at the El Paso Tennis Club in El Paso in August, where his son was competing.

Fulgenzi Sr. said he asked the tournament director to have Smirnov — by then an assistant coach at NMSU — removed due to the previous incident and the ongoing litigation.

“The tournament director asked him to leave and when he was leaving the facility, he kind of wanted to come at me,” Fulgenzi Sr. said.

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a story about how coronavirus has affected you, your family or your business? Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? What issues related to the topic would you like to see covered? Or do you have a bright spot you want to share in these troubling times?
   We want to hear from you. Please email or Contact the writer.