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subota, 24. ožujka 2012.

Croatian Tennis Prodigy Donna Vekić Wins ITF Bangalore Title

Photo from the official Donna Vekić website at

These are the kind of stories I like. Out of nowhere athletes, unheard of outside of their hometown, or country, making a name for themselves.  This is just a brief introduction to Croatia's best junior tennis player Donna Vekić.  Donna was born in the same city as Croatian soccer legend Davor Šuker, at a time when there were  heavy guns pointed at, and the danger of potential shelling of her city of Osijek by Serb soldiers was still present. More about her early years below, however, I was following this tennis tournament in India the last few days, and was glad to see she pulled it off.  The payday wasnt't exactly huge, by far, for winning todays final, but a win is just another rung on the ladder to a successful professional tennis career. Coming in as a wildcard, it is quite an accomplishement.  She is 15 afterall, so she still has time to start winning the bigger prize tournaments....

 Photo from

...The main thing in an early career I think though,  is to gain much valued experience, learn from mistakes, hone her skills, take her vitamins and drink plenty of water daily, stay away from those nasty fucko infested bar&grills (I noticed one of her FB pics showing her at the Rock Hard Cafe, that's allowable.  They have healthy entree's, good salad choices and a great place to discuss tennis strategy and hygeine)...and just keep training and looking ahead.  Hopefully she will crack the top 100 in the near future, and her name will be more well known around the courts at  Wimbledon, the French Open, Australian Open and the long list of other major WTA tournaments around the world. Up until now, Iva Majoli has been our best woman tennis player, winning the French Open in 1997.  Maybe Donna down the road will be able to add to that trophy. More images, video and information on her Facebook page, official website and at the links below...

(As an added sidenote, this story featuring former Croatian Wimbledon champion, Goran Ivanisevic, has been all over the net today. Not quite sure what to make of it, but it's tennis related )


Maiden title for Vekic in women's tennis championship



Bangalore, March 24 (IANS) Ninth seed Donna Vekic, the 15-year-old from Croatia, ranked 397, won the $25,000 QNet ITF Open women's tennis tournament beating fourth seed Andrea Koch Benvenuto of Chile 6-2, 6-4 in the final here Saturday.

It was Vekic's maiden victory in a $25,000 event and earlier last season, she was finalist in the similar event in Nigeria. The Croatian girl also had won a $10,000 tournament last season.

 After winning today's final at the Bangalore Open.

The victory here was special for Vekic as she had scalped top seed Tamaryn Hendler of Belgium in the quarterfinals and then local favourite Kyra Shroff in the next round.

The 115-minute final, though not of high quality, was quite absorbing as Vekic converted most of the chances that came her way. She volleyed and returned while varying her pace to take the sting out of Benvenuto's solid ground strokes.

The Chilean baseliner, ranked 297, committed far too many unforced errors especially when she moved to the net. Vekic, took a 4-2 led in the first set breaking her rival in the sixth game and then again in the eighth which saw as many as six deuces while the Croatian took the set.

In the second set, the Chilean came up with a much better display, but her serve was always under pressure. Though she survived a break point in the first game, Vekic broke her in the 10th after games went to serve till 4-all.

"I won't say, it was easy and I never think any match is easy. I played to win and I am happy that I won here," said Vekic who won $2,940 in prize and earned 50 points while Andrea was richer by $1666 and collected 34 points.

Donna saying a few words after winning the Bangalore Open.

About Donna...

Donna during a photoshoot earlier this year in London. Photogallery:


It was Friday, the 28th day of the June 1996 when she saw the day light for the first time. Her mum Brankica is of a strong opinion, that Donna’s premiere cry was stronger than that of other newborns on the Maternity ward of the Clinical hospital in Osijek.

Who knows, maybe the reason for that cry was the fact that only a few kilometres further, across the river Drava (by which the Maternity was placed) the cannons were directed towards the heart of her birth town, which was the centre of the eastern region called Slavonia. It took two more years until the war threat finally ended in this part of Croatia!

Until then she was already sure to show her family members what she was up to! She was such a merry child, playing all the time, with all that energy that only happily playful children can have. But, it must have been God who wanted her to be born in a family which gave so many giftet sportspersons to Osijek and Croatia. The talents came not only from the family directly, but they were also the results of the hard-work of someone from the Vekić family.

 Photo from 


Her grandmother Lidija, her dad Igor’s mum, was the teacher of Physical Education, and she raised the generations of the talented sportspeople, but she is specially proud of one of them. She discovered Davor Šuker, who she launched into the world of football. And he definetely never denied that fact! Her late grandfather Branko was a gifted archer – which suits the real warrior that he was, doesn’t it – but to the Croatian sport he gave much more contribution as a longtime head of the famous Youth School of the Football Club Osijek. While she still had her maiden name Špiranović, her mum was an excellent athlete: 100m, 100m hurdle and 400m. Her dad Igor used to play football, the sport that made his grandfathers and uncles the trademark of Osijek, but noone in that large sports family had any, even the slightest connection to tennis! Her younger brother Bruno proves that rule, too. He chose football and continued the centenary tradition of many other male members of Vekić family. People say, he is very talented.

Having won the ITF Junior Tennis Ladies Singles in Calcutta in 2011

Having in mind the environment she was growing up in, she entered the world of sport through gymnastics, as the physical culture would require! But then she hurt her ancle, which didn’t mean she wanted to be at rest.

‘Il’ me ženi il’ tamburu kupi, ja u nešto udarati moram (‘Either find me a wife, or buy me a guitar, I must beat something! – a humorous verse from a Slavonian rakish song) – those were the words of son to his father which very clearly show the character of a person who neither can, or wants to stop doing something. Well, if she couldn’t jump over the buck or do figures on the beam, she had to find something else. She asked her father to take her to tennis practice. It was the love at first sight, exactly as the true love can be – extremely painful! With her leg hurt and regardless of the fact that the racket was just a bit shorter than herself, and she was only six years old, she said to her parents: ‘Mum, mum! Dad, dad! This is it!’ They trusted her choice, paid for 20 lessons – everything else is the history!

Interview from Croatian television.

This history was enriched by the important names of her trainers: Damir Barišić, Domagoj Lacković, Davor Grgić, Dado Majoli and David Felgate! Only those whose names begin in D! Even her condition trainer’s name starts in D – Dario Novak! Donna deserves that! Ok, there was some space for several advisers who were allowed not to have D at the beginning of their names: Nick Bolletieri, Chris Evert, Sven Groeneveld and Miljenko Rak! Can you imagine that such names could be unsuccessful? I definitely can’t.

Footage of Donna being proclaimed athlete of the year for 2011 in her hometown city of Osijek.

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