Once, the most talented Croatian tennis player and now the highest ranked on the WTA list is 26 years old, Donna Vekic.
Donna Vekic was born on 28th June 1996 in Osijek, Croatia in a family of Igor and Brankica Vekic. Her father Igor is a former goalkeeper of the local football club NK Osijek and her mother Brankica was a gymnast.
Now, they run the sports association Donna Tennis Team. She has a younger brother Bruno, who recently completed his studies to become a commercial pilot.
Donna started playing tennis at age of six and in 2011 when she was almost fifteen, she won the Junior Championship of Croatia. Next year she turned pro, played her first WTA tournament at Tashkent Open and reached the final.
At that time, the world media wrote about her as one of the most promising tennis players in the World. In an interview once she said that if she wasn’t playing tennis, she’d probably be an actress.
Her favorite surface is a hard court, but her favorite tournament is Wimbledon. Beyond tennis, in 2021 she established a luxury home fragrance brand, DNNA, selling beeswax candles and reed diffusers.
Who Is Donna Vekic’s Coach in 2023?
Since the 2022 Cincinnati Open, Donna is training again with former Croatian tennis player Nikola Horvat. They were collaborating also in the period from August 2016 until the end of season 2017.
Nikola Horvat (44) was born in Cakovec, Croatia. In his neighborhood is the Tennis Club Cakovec so it came naturally for him to try in this sport.
He was the junior vice-champion of Croatia, but further in his career a lot of injuries came, so he decided to give up on playing tennis professionally and to continue his education.
Nikola earned his Bachelor of Sports Coaching Science from the University of Zagreb and Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Cotrugli Business School.
His first head coaching gig was with Ivana Lisjak and brought her from no.384 to a career-best ranking of no.95 in the world. He was coaching Mario Ancic and helped him reach World no.7 and capture the Davis Cup crown.
As for Donna, firstly he helped her rise from no.109 to a then career-high singles ranking of World no.45 and coached her to her second WTA title at the 2017 Nottingham Open.
After their split at the end of season 2017, they reconnect again after last year’s Cincinnati Open. She started this season with a great result by reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.
A few months ago, Donna added to her coaching team the former tennis player Pamela Shriver.
Pamela Howard Shriver was born on 4th July 1962 in Baltimore, USA. During her career, she won 133 titles, including 21 singles titles and 112 doubles.
With her regular doubles partner, Martina Navratilova are the only woman’s pair to complete the Grand Slam in a calendar year, winning all four majors in 1984. Currently, she works as a tennis broadcaster and pundit, also as a coaching consultant for Vekic’s team.
Former Donna Vekic’s Coaches
For more than six years, since she was twelve years old, Donna was under the mentorship of the former tennis player, David Felgate.
David Felgate was born on 19th March 1964 in Essex, England. He turned pro in 1983 and didn’t have any significant success, winning only one ATP title in doubles.
After retirement, he started coaching Tim Henman in 1992 and remained with him for nine years, a period in which Henman won seven ATP titles. He also coached Xavier Malisse and Nicole Vadisova.
David was part of the Lawn Tennis Association as Manager of Men’s National Training and their Performance Director.
He met Donna at the JTC coaching operation in Middlesex which he heads and was coaching her from 2008 until the summer of 2014.
He led her to five ITF titles and her maiden WTA title, consequently into the top 100. After splitting, her ranking went down as low as 177, and then, for season 2016 they link up again, but only for a few months.
After the firs split with Felgate, Vekic started training under the mentorship of John Evert.
John Evert is the Founder and Managing Partner of the Evert Tennis Academy. John has developed and managed top junior, collegiate and professional players for over 30 years. He was raised in a tennis family whose name is synonymous with American Tennis.
John’s father, revered tennis coach Jimmy Evert, saw all five of his children compete and win National titles. John’s sister and Evert Tennis Academy co-owner, Chris Evert, continues to be recognized as one of the greatest tennis players and most iconic sports figures of all time.
John was Donna’s coach for one year, period in which she won a few decent matches but her ranking was not where it ought to be for someone of her ability. They split at the end of season 2015.
Starting from season 2018, for a period of two and a half years, Donna was coached by German, Torben Beltz.
Torben Beltz was born on 27th November 1976 in Itzehoe, Germany. He is best known for coaching his compatriot Angelique Kerber to the 2016 Australian Open and US Open titles. He also worked with Emma Raducanu, Carina Withoeft and currently is coaching Anett Kontaveit.
When he started his coaching work with the Croatian, she was only in 54th place in the WTA ranking and led her to a career-high, World no.19.
That was due to the fact that Donna played several semi-finals, three finals of WTA tournaments and achieved her best result in a Grand Slam playing the quarter-finals at the 2019 US Open.
They ended their relationship not in a quite good manner, as they had small discussion on Twitter and disagree on the reasons for the split.
After ending the collaboration with Beltz, Donna connected with Sam Symuk.
Sam Symuk is a French tennis coach born in 1967. She coached variety of players during his career such as Dona Vekic, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and Vera Zvonareva.
Biggest success he had by coaching Victoria Azarenka who was two-time Australian Open champion, two-time US Open runner up, Olympic mixed doubles gold medalist and singles bronze medalist and reached World No.1.
Also, he led Garbine Muguruza to French Open and Wimbledon titles and World No.1.
During the time training with Sam, she was out of the form from previous year, part due to Covid period. She felt out of top 20 and finished the season 2020 as World no.32.
At the beginning of next season, she was injured, went for surgery and drop out of the top 100. In August, Donna fired Sam after a one-year collaboration.
At that time when she was thinking of ending the season 2021, but her team convinced her to keep playing which paid off in the end. She started training under the mentorship of Luka Kutanjac.
Luka Kutanjac (43) was born on 29th March 1979 in Zagreb, Croatia. He earned his Bachelor-Tennis Coach at Coach Education Study Center Faculty of Kinesiology in Zagreb. Since 2015 he is part of Sporting Management Monaco owned by Ivan Ljubicic.
He also worked at International Tennis Academy in Delray Beach, USA, was coach in private academy in Beijing, China and was traveling coach for Croatian Tennis Federation, boys under 18.
His collaboration with Donna immediately showed result as she won her third WTA title at the end of 2021 at Courmayeur Open.
“This was a really extremely difficult year, my first big injury and surgery happened.
I didn’t even know what to expect after that, the recovery was really long and painful, but the year ended successfully and I am looking forward to the next season in which I will, I hope, be ready and healthy and play tennis again without pain. Luka definitely brought refreshment to the team, and a positive attitude and that helped me a lot.
I will continue to work with him next season and I think I really have a lot of room for improvement, and he is the one who can give me that.” said Vekic.
Donna Vekic Achievements With Different Coaches
We have collected in the table the data about the trophies won by Donna Vekic under the guidance of various coaches.
|Coaches||Years of Completion||Titles|
|Nikola Horvat||August 2022 – ongoing
June 2016 – 2017
|2016 ITF Sharm El Sheikh
2017 WTA Nottingham Open
|Luka Kutanjac||August 2021 – July 2022||2021 WTA Courmayeur Open|
|Sam Sumyk||July 2020 – August 2021||none|
|Torben Beltz||2018 – July 2020||none|
|John Evert||November 2014 – 2015||none|
|David Felgate||2008 – August 20142016 – May 2016||2014 WTA Kuala Lumpur Open
2013 ITF Istanbul Open
2012 ITF Fergana Open
2012 ITF Bangalore Open
2011 ITF Chiswick Open
2011 ITF Westend Open (in doubles)
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