News & Features
Jelena's Climb to the Top
by Nick Bollettieri
, 24 November 2008
Even though it happened and lasted for just one week, Jelena Jankovic's journey to reach the top of the tennis world was achieved! As anyone who has ever successfully climbed a mountain unattainable by the vast majority of their peers, her sense of triumph and euphoria was both deserved and hard-earned. Jelena made it to the top through sheer hard work and determination.
Jelena came to the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy when she was 12 years old and trained here for six years. When she arrived, she couldn't speak much English and knew even less about the complex and competitive world of tennis champions in training. But, she was determined and willing to put in the hours of training that is required to earn the distinction of moving from the "back" courts to the "front" to play with the other elite players. Jelena was never intimidated about playing in front of an audience... in fact; I wasn't surprised one bit to read in a recent article that she would like to become an actress when she retires.
When she was here full-time, she was part of a trio of girls that included Maria Sharapova and Tatiana Golovin that have all gone on to become top players. When training all three would compete against each other on a daily basis and I believe the results of that initial training speak for themselves. Another benefit of training with Maria Sharapova (a.k.a. "The Intimidator") as a youngster is acquiring the skill to remain unfazed by a player who instills fear in less-experienced opponents just by stepping on the court. When you literally grow up with these girls, the intimidation factor is significantly minimized.
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