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29
January

At the age of 15, Ana Konjuh has made part of her dream come true. The dream she had while still in kindergarten when she started her friendship with the tennis racket, attending the training sessions of her sister Andrea, her senior by almost six years. Ana has become the world’s best junior tennis player by winning a double crown at the Australian Open Junior Tournament.

 

Regardless of the satisfaction which the victory in Melbourne brought her – followed by a series of wins at the prestigious Orange Bowl and Eddie Herr tournaments - she is aware that she is not yet half way to reaching her goal in tennis: to be ranked among the world’s best senior tennis players. 

- Junior tennis is nothing in comparison with senior tennis. There isn’t a big difference in the training. Following my established routine, I still practice six hours a day. However, although I am more mature and experienced now, I still have a long way to go as far as psychology is concerned in order to match the top players. I do not wish to look into the distant future, I just hope to be healthy, without serious injuries, to play the best I can and achieve the best possible results – says Ana. From the very beginning her talent and effort have been praised by true tennis experts such as Goran Ivanišević, who claimed that she was capable of playing a major role in the world of tennis. Although she trains for six hours a day and admits that she doesn’t know what she would do if she wasn’t involved in tennis, Ana claims that her priorities include her family and faith.

- Tennis is one of main parts of my life, but not the most important. I am dedicated to this sport and I chose a path which is not easy at times and requires a lot of sacrifice. However, I have no regrets whatsoever, especially because I can see the results. My choice, like all choices, has its advantages and disadvantages. At the moment I am truly happy and fulfilled, explains Ana. She has chosen to live in Zagreb since the age of ten - with the support of her family - because Dubrovnik lacked the conditions necessary for good quality training. Separation from her native City is the reason why Ana’s visits to Dubrovnik are special for her and not merely a holiday.

- I miss the City. Every homecoming brings back memories and I would like to remain there, but I am aware that in Dubrovnik I would not be able to have good quality training sessions. Nevertheless, one day, I would love to live right here, confesses Ana.

She has recently visited her family and the City on the occasion of the wedding of her sister Andrea, whose tennis career was brought to an end by injury.

- I have three sisters, but Andrea is the closest to me. She understands me the best. We have been through similar experiences. In addition to being sisters, we are connected by our love of tennis, the years lived in Zagreb, our victories and defeats. I am grateful for everything she has done for me, for every piece of advice and help – Ana describes her relationship with her sister, who is impossible to leave out while talking about the tennis part of her life.

It feels strange to Ana when tennis-playing children ask her for her autograph. However, she gladly answers their questions and plays a game or two with them when she has the time. One of her meetings with very young children took place recently at Uvala Lapad (the Bay of Lapad), the place where her tennis story began.

- They most often wish to know how long my practice sessions last, how I manage to find time for all my obligations and study at the same time – says Ana, who is doing a correspondence course in Tourism.

At the time when she was still hitting tennis balls against a wall while waiting for her sister to finish her practice sessions at Uvala Lapad, Ana was already beaming with joy when she held a racket in her hand.

Today this girl still has that very same look, persistence and eagerness. Although her approach to this sport makes Ana a true professional, tennis is still a game she delights in. It is very likely that this joy is the key to her stamina and success, as well as a decisive element at crucial moments in her matches.

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