Donna Vekic hires former Kerber coach

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Tennis is hardly the only sport that subscribes to the “proven commodity” theory. 

But the old theory has proven true once again.

If you coach one top player who produces results, you’re often not going to have too much trouble getting another good gig when that one inevitably ends.

And so, less than two weeks after Torben Beltz parted ways with former No. 1 Angelique Kerber, Croatia’s Donna Vekic announced Wednesday that she would be working with the German for the 2018 season.

“The next season is nearly upon us and I can’t wait to start working with Torben Beltz as my new coach. 2017 was one my best years so far on the tour as I broke the Top 50 and I won my second WTA title, I am eager to do even better with Torben. It’s a great opportunity to learn from one of the best coaches and I look forward to this new collaboration,” Vekic said in a statement from her management on her Facebook page.

Kerber already is working with Wim Fissette, who parted ways with Johanna Konta after a hugely successful 2017. Fissette was let go by Simona Halep after she also had a great season in 2014.

“I am very excited to work with Donna, she has a lot of potential and I am sure we can achieve good results together,” was the statement from Beltz.

Coaching musical chairs

Fissette worked with Victoria Azarenka from February 2015 to the end of July 2016.

And she, too, must embark on a coaching search after her collaboration with Michael Joyce officially ended last week.

Joyce signed on with the Belarussian, leaving a lucrative and secure gig with American Jessica Pegula, with the idea he could help the more accomplished Azarenka get back to the top of the game.

The former Grand Slam champion and No. 1 took time away to have son Leo. She returned during the grass-court season this year.

But Azarenka’s well-documented custody issues have kept her off the court since Wimbledon. And with no firm return date as the case continues to wind its way through the courts, Joyce had to make a call.

He is reportedly close to an agreement to coach … Konta. 

The holdup – as so often is the case, especially with the women – so far has been the financials.

After a lull, Vekic rises again

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Donna Vekic rose quickly through the WTA Tour ranks at a very young age. She was just 16 when she reached her first two WTA Tour finals.

But the last few years have been tough, notably since the Croat’s romance with top men’s player Stan Wawrinka was revealed.

Most recently, she was probably more infamous for the fracas between Wawrinka and Nick Kyrgios in Montreal two years ago, in which her name, while not explicitly mentioned, figured prominently.

And she had to go through the usual social media abuse. Because, of course, the fact that she had an much older, more successful (and, early on, married) boyfriend obviously meant that she didn’t care about tennis any more and was just hitching her wagon to his. Sigh.

Still just 20, Vekic had the last laugh Sunday as she earned her second career WTA Tour title in Nottingham.

Vekic didn’t just win it; she fought for it. Hard.

She defeated No. 5 seed Lucie Safarova 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-6 (4) in an enthralling semifinal Saturday.

And on Sunday, against No. 1 seed Johanna Konta, she pulled off another great upset, 2-6, 7-6 (3), 7-5 to win the title.

Not only is Konta the No. 8 player in the world, the Brit also had the home-country support.

As a result, Vekic should move to a new career high of No. 58 on Monday.

Vekic’s success this week might finally take the focus off her romance with Stan Wawrinka. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Early promise, a fall, then a rise

It’s been coming, slowly, for the solid all-around player who doesn’t have the luxury of one big weapon.

Vekic definitely got a (Wawrinka) break at Indian Wells this year when she was awarded a wild card. She defeated American Alison Riske in the first round there. But she has remained at the WTA Tour level for the most part in 2017, fighting her way through the qualifying and posting some decent wins.

Vekic had a very good junior career. She got to No. 21 in the ITF junior rankings. Often, she lost to some of the very best at the time – Genie Bouchard, Yulia Putintseva – who were older.

She reached the fourth round of the Wimbledon juniors in 2012, losing to then 15-year-old Françoise Abanda (who came to within a few games of making the final that year).

Even at 16 (here in the Wimbledon juniors), Vekic was a pretty solid, dogged competitor. She seems to have gotten some of that mojo back. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Suddenly, a year later, she was a “big time” rising player with a career-high of No. 62 in July of 2013. She had just turned 17.

It all takes some adjusting to. She’s not the first young female player to enjoy a quick rise and, in the aftermath, have trouble sustaining it.

And going through the first major romance of your young life while you’re doing it can’t be the easiest one-two punch in the world. Let’s all try to remember what that first big teenage love affair was like, if we can remember that far back. It can be all-consuming.

Vekic will be at a career high, her best ranking since 2013, on Monday after winning Nottingham. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

To each his or her own pace. We’ve seen it many times in the last: talent eventually finds it level. Unless the player truly doesn’t like the sport but merely is good at it (Nicole Vaidisova is an example which comes to mind), they will usually find their way again.

Vekic’s effort this week will give her a nice bounce going into the second half of the season. And she’ll be able to avoid the qualifying a lot more often.

Now, it’s time for her boyfriend to step up. She’s been stalwart in her courtside support of him during his big moments. Perhaps she’ll have a few moments in the near future where he can return the favor.