Croatian tennis star Donna Vekic says her best advice to the next generation of players is to find the positive in every situation. The 23 year old Vekic is currently ranked No. 24 in the world and like all other athletes is currently in isolation during the tennis shutdown.
In her post for the Behind the Racquet series, Vekic says, "My best advice to the next generation of players is to find the positive in everything. Do not get hung up on anything, but try to look at everything in general.
Think of a long-term process, because even I catch myself thinking that I want right here and now, although this does not help me play better. It will be difficult to do, so you will need a team that will help in this matter.
Not everyone can do it, that's why tennis is a very difficult sport, Vekic started off as a teen prodigy, making the Top 100 at 16 but says she also went through a series of losses a few years ago which affected her confidence.
:I remember one of my longest series of defeats. I was then about 16 years old and lost seven games in a row. I was limited by the number of matches on a professional level. I could not play every week to still win. And I finally interrupted this series of defeats in Indian Wells.
It was a real relief. I quickly rose in the ranking, already in 16 years being in the Top 100. I won my first WTA title at age 17. After finals or victories in tournaments over the next weeks, I lost everywhere because I put pressure on myself.
From 18 to 20 years I did not get any pleasure from tennis. Everyone expected victories from me when I was 16. But this very rarely happens. Now, when I see young tennis players, I know that this take-off will stop. It all depends on how they handle.
A very large portion of the pressure comes from the media. I remember I once read an article where they called me a tourist in a tournament. I never read too much about myself and generally tried not to pay attention to such things.
It played into my hands and the fact that I was not so often in Croatia and did not hear what people say about me. But even if you try to avoid talking about yourself, you still come across them. I continued to work hard, train, but this was not visible in my matches.
And I admitted to myself that I did not get pleasure from the game. But gradually everything changed and I rose from outside the Top 100 to the top twenty of the rating. I really grew up, went through the natural process of growing up and got older.
And I would not say that this is because I worked harder. I became smarter." Vekic, who broke into the Top 20 for the first time in November last year, says she is very pleased with her form in recent months. "I am very pleased with the last seasons.
I am grateful to my trainer Torben Belts and my fitness trainer Zlatko Novkovich for the fact that they help me a lot. I don’t know what I would do without them. We get along very well, and I can’t wait for the moment when we will go on tournaments again.
Torben is a very positive person who is important to me. Sometimes I am too strict towards myself and close myself. But I try to find a balance in this, as I am a very open and sociable person. It happens that I close in my room, do not communicate with anyone and order food.
But usually I have dinner with my team or friends. I am friends with many girls on tour. One of the closest friends is Maria Sakkari. It is always difficult to play against her. We both want to defeat each other, but off the court we are friends.
The worst of it all - she knows every step I take on the court, and I know what she’s thinking. It makes our friendship unusual. During the match, I constantly think that it will end faster. I do not think about our friendship, because I know that it will always be between us. By the way, the winner in our meetings always pays for dinner."