Dea Herdzelas is a hard working girl who can do anything when it comes to tennis and who does great work with her coach Haris Basalic, and uses to the most the fact that her Sarajevo has become a city of tennis in which it is no longer an issue to organize a quality sparing.
It is our great pleasure that we have an opportunity to, year in and year out, present top-notch talents, which are continually produced by the Bosnian tennis community. Albeit, we are still waiting for the real deal – for one of those talents, produced in the last 5-6 seasons, to come through and confirm the talent with world class results professionally and to raise the profile of the Bosnian tennis community, making it self-sustainable.
The leader among the juniors
This time special attention is given to Dea Herdzelas (born November 7th 1996.) the leading Bosnian junior player and one of the best of her age in the world. She has during 2012, almost unnoticed, for some perhaps unexpected, grown into great young tennis player, who is already ready to play with the pros. In short we are talking about the exceptionally hard working girl when it comes to tennis and who works great with her coach Haris Basalic (33), and drains the maximum out of the fact that Sarajevo has become a city of tennis and that it is no longer a problem to organize quality sparing sessions.
First months of the year Herdzelas uses (tournaments in Spain and Tunisia) to catch up with the best junior players and in doing so takes over the number one spot among the peers from BiH. At the same time she was working hard to enter into the top junior plight (Asian tour). Results were perhaps not at the expected level, but the subsequent months showed that the effort was not in vain. Third junior final of the year came about in Czech Republic and was a great dose of confidence ahead of the European junior championship in Moscow for 16 & under, where she played great making it to the quarterfinals. That was the jewel of her junior season which was completed by a semifinal and quarterfinal in Pancevo and Novi Sad (Serbia) respectively, after which she enters the top 100 on the ITF list.
Solin as an eye opener
Focus than switches to professional competition, because the June appearances at Sarajevo ITF challenger and semifinal of doubles, showed Dea’s readiness to compete at this level. The result in Solin (Croatia, 10.000) when she made it from qualifying into the quarterfinals in singles and semifinals in doubles again (enough for a debut on WTA list), and once more Sarajevo (15.000, clay) where she made it past the qualifying, confirmed that the young Sarajevan has become a real player.
Unfortunately, these results came about towards the end of the season, when this 15 year old had already some 50 matched under her belt and needed to finalize the year and get some well earned rest – and begin the preparations for the next season. The team around her, led by her parents, who through their support enable her to have a good practicing program, solid tournament choices, now faces great challenges ahead. It is paramount to secure better working conditions and more challenging matches. Plan for 2013 is to focus on professional competition, with the aim of approaching top 500 on WTA list, as well as playing the biggest of the junior tournaments (grand slams!). In addition to that, Herdzelas will as was always the case respond to any and all of her national selection duties, providing that these invitations are made in a timely manner.
No need to panic
It is great the people from BH Telecom have recognized Dea’s talent and have financially supported her work. Yet, we must point out that the example of Dea Herdzelas, whose career is basically 100% sponsored by her parents, once again demonstrates that talent and excellent work on the courts are not enough for top tennis result. With enough money to travel to tournaments, mostly in the company of her coach, which is a norm for her competitors (even the closest ones), Dea would by now be at the top of ITF ranking and towards the middle of the WTA ranking (between 500 and 600). However it is not yet time for panic!
Period of dominance of young players in professional tennis is long the thing of the past. Today the situation is rather reverse – top 100 currently has no players younger than 18 and only six are younger than 20 and are ranked in the range from 38th to 94th place. The message is clear: in order for a 15 year old girl to compete with the best she must work hard in the coming 3-4 years and improve her game.
Season in numbers
Dea played a total of 17 tournaments, of which 4 professional, one 16&under and 12 junior tournaments.
- Played only qualifying at two tournaments (Sarajevo, prize money 10.000 dollars and Dubrovnik, 10.000, in October)
- In Solin (10.000, October) came from qualifying to quarterfinals, then again in Sarajevo (15.000, October) qualified for the main draw and lost in first round against the eventual tournament winner.
- Doubles – at the first Sarajevo tournament and in Solin she reached semifinal which brought her enough points (12) to make it to the WTA rankings.
Junior tournaments (U-18):
- Played four tournaments of first strength category, three in March (Thailand, Malaysia, and Philippines) and one in July (Germany)
- Played five tournaments of second strength category, two in Tunisia (January and February), one in Romania (May), and two in Serbia (September)
- Played two tournaments of third strength category (Spain, January and Czech Republic, July, making it into the finals)
- Made it to finals of one fourth strength category tournament in January of 2012 in Spain.
Other tournaments (U-16):
- Played only at the European championships and made it to the quarterfinals, which is a great result having in mind all the circumstances surrounding the practice and play in BiH as compared to most other countries.
Looking through the eyes of the statistician, in 2012 Dea played a total of 44 matches in main draws in all categories and recorded 29 wins and 15 losses. However, to these numbers we must add the qualifying matches because they were the most numerous in the professional competition. Thus, looking at the four professional tournaments she played, she had to pass through qualifications in all of them (wild cards are reserved for some other talents!) and she recorded nine wins and two loses. Two junior tournaments involved qualifying matches as well, but only three matches were played in that competition and all were won. This means that in all singles play in 2012 she played 58 matches and won 41 of them. She also played her first league competition at the end of September of 2012 where she also had noticeable results. We are talking about the Serbian league, where Herdzelas was member of the winning team with an impressive score of 6 wins and 0 losses.
Improvement year in and year out
If we compare this year’s play with the ones from 2-3 years ago, improvement can easily be seen: more matches played and against tougher competition, with the ever improving ranking. So looking at last year when Dea was 14 years old, she played a total of 19 tournaments (with qualifying) of which four were professional (Sarajevo 10.000), 10 were junior of which six of 4th strength category, two of 5th and one G-1 and G-2 each, and five competitions from the Tennis Europe calendar for 16 & under. She played a total of 43 matches and recorded 24 wins. At the year’s end she was ranked no. 362 on the ITF ranking. In 2012, when Dea was only 13 years old, she played 12 tournaments, of which 6 in 14 & under category, three in 16 & under and three junior tournaments, i.e. 18 & under. She played 40 matches and won 29 times.
As 12 year old, meaning in 2009, she played 12 tournaments in 14 & under category and one in 16 & under category, having played 35 matches and recording 23 wins.
Thus, we can see a visible improvement in the results of this young Sarajevan, although she plays with older and more experienced counterparts each year. Knowledgeable audience knows how hard that is and how much effort and skills are required, but above all financial investments, to underline once more.