Photo: Susan MullaneNino Serdarusic (CRO)
Like many other youngsters set to compete in next month’s Youth Olympic Games, Nino Serdarusic admits that he had little knowledge of Nanjing before his participation in the tennis event was confirmed.
But now he knows he’ll be joining around 3,800 other athletes in the capital of the Jiangsu Province for the second event of its kind, the 17-year-old Croatian is very much looking forward to his time in the Chinese city.
“I’m really excited. A lot of people from Croatia are going from other sports and I’m going to meet a lot of friends, watch a lot of sports but I don’t know anything about Nanjing,” Serdarusic admitted. “I’ve heard it has a big tennis centre, a lot of courts and a big stadium, so there are going to be a lot of people and it'll be a lot of fun.”
The Tennis Academy of China is gearing up to host the Youth Olympic Tennis Event on 17-24 August, with 10 match courts - including a 7,800-seater main court - and seven practice courts set to be used by competitors in Nanjing.
Croatia picked up three medals – one gold, one silver and one bronze - at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010, and Serdarusic has high hopes of becoming the first Croatian to win a medal in the tennis event. Asked which medal in particular he has his eye on, Serdurasic didn’t hesitate - “only gold,” he said.
Currently ranked No. 22 in the ITF Junior Rankings, Serdarusic has had a strong year so far on the junior circuit, particularly in the team game. He reached doubles semifinals at Milan, Umag, Beaulieu Sur Mer, Salsomaggiore Terme and at Junior Wimbledon and also won the singles title at the Grade 2 event in Benicarlo, Spain.
A medal in Nanjing, it seems, is a very realistic possibility and Serdarusic hopes that the pride of playing for his nation will provide the extra boost that could earn him a gold medal, having rarely had the chance to compete in country colours in the past.
“I played for Croatia once in the summer cup a few years ago but not since then,” he said. “Of course I’m going to fight even more and I hope to get a medal for my country and play my best tennis.”