Game, set and match Rising star beats all
TOWNSVILLE’S Mikayla Zahirovic, 14, may have stamped herself as the city’s next rising tennis star.
Zahirovic won the 14 years and under women’s singles title at the Rod Laver Queensland Junior Championships in Brisbane, and now she is eyeing off a national title at December’s Australian Junior Championships in Melbourne.
Zahirovic’s achievement is made even more impressive given the fact she entered last week’s tournament as eighth seed.
The Kirwan State High School student made her presence known in the quarterfinals when she beat No. 1 seed Maggie Pearce 6- 4, 6- 5, and then she overcame a tough semi- final against Natasha Lystrup CamerPesci 0- 6, 6- 3, 6- 2.
Waiting for Zahirovic in the grand final was No. 2 seed Hana Sonton, who entered the decider in equally good form, but Zahirovic was too strong, winning 6- 3, 6- 2.
“We’re over the moon,” Zahirovic’s mother Aida said.
“She’s been playing since she was five years old, and to finally get the grand final win is a dream come true.
“She had a hard path to make the grand final but she was able to beat the top seed, and even though she had a setback in the semi- final she didn’t let it shake her.”
Zahirovic has plenty of local inspiration, with former Townsville juniors J. P. Smith and Lizette Cabrera carving out careers on the international circuit with appearances at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, among other prestigious tournaments.
Zahirovic trains out of Western Suburbs Tennis Club under the watch of Hawk- Eye Tennis coach Brad Clews.
Her training schedule runs up to seven hours a week, usually consisting of two individual training sessions, two squad sessions and two sets of fixtures.
“Mikayla was playing against kids who train up to 2- 3 hours a day, even during school hours,” Clews said.
“So for her to win that tournament was an outstanding achievement.
“She has a strong power game ... she was just hitting players off the court.
“She’s only 14, but with her progress who knows how far she can go.
“All the young players in the North Queensland region know Mikayla and she’s already a role model, which is great for the sport.”
Zahirovic’s next tournament will be the Ingham Open in a fortnight.