This month sees Serbian teenager and former Junior Fed Cup star Jovana Jaksic featured.
The 19-year old spent the month competing in three $10,000 clay court tournaments held at the GD Tennis Academy in Antalya, Turkey.
Antalya has proven a happy hunting ground for singles titles for Jaksic on the ITF Pro Circuit having reached a final in the city in 2011 and the final of five tournaments here in 2012 between late September and the end of November. On each occasion she was successful in claiming the title!
In fact, coming into this month, Jaksic had won her last seven singles finals with a career record of eight titles from eleven finals stretching back to July 2011.
Jaksic brought the 2012 season to a close in Antalya and spent the opening month of this year competing in America but returned to the Turkish city this month where she looked to extend her impressive record.
In the opening tournament Jaksic was named as the fourth seed and began in commanding fashion by posting wins of 61 60 and 63 60 to reach the quarterfinals.
Nadiya Kolb, of the Ukraine, managed to take four games, two in each set, off of Jaksic in their quarterfinal meeting as the Serbian progressed to the semifinal with a 62 62 win.
A quick passage into yet another Antalya final looked on course when Jaksic stunned the number two seed, Laura-Ioana Andrei, of Romania, 60 in the opening set but Andrei put up more of a fight in the second set but was ultimately powerless to stop Jaksic claiming a place in the final with a 60 75 victory.
Having despatched the second seed in the semifinal, Jaksic was faced across the net by the tournament’s top seed, Jasmina Tinjic, in the title match.
The final, however, only lasted for seven games as with Jaksic leading 5-2 her Bosnian opponent had to retire from the match and in doing so handing Jaksic her first title of 2013 and seventh career title in Antalya.
In her second tournament here this month, Jaksic, this time named the third seed, was involved in a first round three set battle against Monique Zuur, of the Netherlands, a lucky loser.
A 64 36 61 win moved Jaksic into the second round where a 75 61 win took her into the quarterfinals and what turned into another three set match, against qualifier Bianca Hincu, of Romania.
Jaksic took the opening set 75 before Hincu won a close set of her own 64 to level the score at one-set-all. As she had done so in the first round, Jaksic assumed total control of the decisive set and reeled off six games in a row without reply to wrap up a 75 46 60 win.
A semifinal against China’s Kai-Lin Zhang, who was seeded five, saw Jaksic win the opening set 75 for the third round in succession before then dropping three games in the second set to make back-to-back final appearances.
Ioana Ducu was her opponent in the final and was also the third player she had faced who had come into the main draw via the qualifying event. The Romanian qualifier had seen off the top seed in three sets in the quarterfinals with a 62 26 62 win and would have been confident of taken the title.
With her record when competing in Antalya based finals though, it was Jaksic who got off to the better start, winning the first set with the loss of just two games. A closer second set followed but with a 75 win it was Jaksic who was once again crowned the champion.
To see out the month, Jaksic’s third tournament at Antalya’s GD Tennis Academy saw her seeded fourth, just as she was in the opening tournament of the month.
During the course of the week, qualifiers would feature heavily in Jaksic’s schedule.
Jaksic lost just one game in the first set of the first round but having been brought back onto level terms when Irina Maria Bara, a Romanian qualifier, took the second set 64, a surprise early exit was narrowly avoided with a 75 third set victory.
Following this closely fought opening round win, things got a bit easier for Jaksic in the rounds that followed. Something that is not always a good thing!
Belgian qualifier Steffi Distelmans only managed two games as Jaksic won through to the quarterfinals with a 62 60 win and then a semifinal place was earned with a 64 62 defeat of another qualifier, Valeriya Strakhova, of the Ukraine.
A fourth successive qualifier, Croatian Tena Lukas, fifth if you include the finalist of the previous week’s final, retired from their semifinal match with Jaksic up 61 3-1.
Now into a ninth career singles final in Antalya, Jaksic, bidding to win an eighth title from her last eight finals played, was facing the number one seed from Romania, Raluca Olaru.
Having moved through the draw with relative ease, apart from that tense opening round match, knocking out qualifier after qualifier in four successive rounds, suddenly playing the top seed in the title match offered a much different challenge.
After two close sets finishing 63 75 and for the first time in an Antalya final and in a first final since a Serbian final in Pirot in early October 2011, Jaksic tasted defeat. Olaru’s straight sets triumph denied Jaksic a hat-trick of titles this month but could not take away from an otherwise successful month on the ITF Pro Circuit for the 19-year old player.
Despite ending on a final defeat, good news was soon to follow the next morning with the release of the latest WTA rankings which showed that Jaksic had climbed to a new career high singles ranking of 341.