Getting To Know… Jovana Jaksic - Serbia has become a tennis powerhouse over the last 10 years, and there’s a large crop of young players on the rise too. Jovana Jaksic is one of those players – learn all about her right here.

21.09 2013 I

GUANGZHOU, China - Serbia has become a tennis powerhouse the last 10 years - Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Novak Djokovic, Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki have all become top players, with a large crop of young players on the rise too, like Bojana Jovanovski and a certain Jovana Jaksic.

Having started the year ranked No.369, Jaksic has risen more than 200 spots in the last eight and a half months to her current ranking of No.162 thanks to five titles on the ITF Women’s Circuit, and she’s playing more and more at the WTA level now, having made main draws at Monterrey and Guangzhou.

It was in Guangzhou where the 19-year-old (soon to be 20-year-old) caught up with…

How did you get into tennis?

When I was three or four years old I asked my dad if I could go to the tennis club, where he was playing with his friends, but they said I was too young and had to wait. Eventually when I was about eight and a half I still wanted to play, and there was a tennis camp there so I asked if I could go again, but they didn’t take me seriously at all, so I started crying! And after that they signed me up.

Talk about your family.

My dad, Aleksandar, owns a private business. He was a boxer and had a black belt in karate. My mom, Danijela, coaches me at the moment – she was a tennis player as well, but she played doubles more. My little brother, Milan, is finishing high school and wants to be a doctor. I miss him so much on tour!

What is your coaching situation?

My first coach was in Belgrade, but my mom has coached me since the beginning as well, and since I started going to tournaments she has gone everywhere with me. We started working seriously together about four years ago. She’s my biggest supporter – I don’t know what I’d do without her.

How would you describe your game style?

I’m a big fighter on the court. I never give up until the match is finished. I like to attack every time I can – my favorite shots are my forehand and my backhand, and I try to move forward and come into the court whenever I can. I also enjoy every moment when I’m on the court – that’s what I live for!

What’s your favorite surface?

Hardcourt. Because I like to attack, that’s what I love the most, because my shots are more powerful there. But I’ve done very well on clay courts too. I like both, but if I had to pick one, it’s hardcourt.

What’s your favorite tournament?

Monterrey. It was my first WTA main draw. I qualified and made it to the second round, and I played three sets with Maria Kirilenko, and the crowd was just amazing. She took a break at one point and there was music on and I just felt so much energy from the fans, and I just got up and danced!

Talk about your education.

I’ve finished high school. When I was in primary school – which is when I started playing – I made a deal with my dad that I’d have to graduate from high school if I wanted to make tennis my career. I’ve always kept that deal and I even got the best grades I could! It was difficult at times though.

What are your goals in tennis?

I’m just trying to be the best player I can be. I’m working very hard. I can’t really say I have a goal for my ranking yet. I’m just starting at the WTA level, so I’m just trying to improve and we’ll see.

Other than tennis, what do you enjoy doing?

Singing and dancing. I love music. Every time I’m not on the court, I’m listening to music. Even right now, my iPod is in my hand! I also like reading books a lot. And I love toys – stuffed animals. I don’t have one favorite one, but I always bring three with me wherever I go, and actually I just bought another one here in Guangzhou, so I have four here now! They’re not all one animal – just any kind.

Who are your favorite singers/actors/writers?

I don’t really have one favorite singer – I just enjoy music. I mostly listen to Serbian music since I’m not at home that much. I’ve said a few times that if I weren’t a tennis player, I’d sing. I was always singing in school. I don’t know if the people around me like my singing, but I enjoy it! As for books, Nora Roberts is my favorite writer. I love her books. And I enjoy mysteries – I like the suspense.

What do you think of Serbia’s success in tennis over the last 5 to 10 years?

We’re a really talented nation in sports. It’s not just tennis – all sports. I’m really happy about it and I look forward to seeing many more Serbian players getting to the top. We’re always fighting until the last moment. I’m friends with all the Serbian players. Ana Ivanovic is lovely – I keep in touch with her all the time and she gives me advice on what to do and where to go at all of these tournaments!

How do you keep in touch with everyone while you’re travelling?

Thank God there’s technology! That’s how I stay in touch with all my friends. When I’m home I spend so much time with everyone, but the internet saves me when I’m at tournaments. And actually I’m going home for my 20th birthday soon – the last five years I haven’t been home for it, I’m really excited!