Domenika Turkovic’s work ethic has shaped her for a new leadership role with ASU women’s tennis

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When senior women’s tennis Domenika Turkovic transferred to ASU last season, her first impression with second-year Marianna Argyrokastriti was ugly.

In what was the tiebreaker in a friendly tennis match during practice, the match ended with a controversial ball over the line that resulted in Argyrokastriti’s victory over Turkovic, leaving her screaming from anger.

“I called the ball and she got angry” said Argyrokastriti. “We just had a fight that I cheated. We didn’t get along for a while.”

The relationship eventually healed, but it took months.

Heading into a new spring competitive season, the women’s tennis roster is vastly different than it was a year ago, and now Turkovic has been called upon to take on a new role – to be a leader, a role the Croatia native never had. in his career.

Growing up and competing in Europe, there was never a game in a team. She only competed in singles and trained with a personal trainer.

“It took me a while to get used to it,” Turkovic said. “Nobody prepares you for college tennis. Since it’s such an individualistic sport (in Europe), and you come here (in the United States), it’s a group thing.”

But head coach Sheila McInerney trusted his hardest-working player to guide the team after ASU’s roster grew from 12 players in 2021 to eight this year.

“She’s always been a hard worker, but I think her hard work is paying off,” McInerney said. “I think she took the bull by the horn and did a great job.”

For Turkovic, working hard is nothing new. She grew up with two workaholic parents, Vladimir and Lidia. They drove her to tournaments all over the country. Lidia worked several jobs to help pay for Turkovic’s tennis coaches.

“My parents have always been very supportive,” Turkovic said. “They always knew what I needed.”

Growing up in Zagreb, Croatia meant cold, long winters with snow and rain. When it rained, she trained indoors in a carpeted gym. If the sky was clear, she would play outside on concrete.

In primary school, Turkovic played in small Croatian tournaments, but at 12 she was not satisfied. Throughout elementary school, she participated in international tournaments, competing all over Europe.

By the time she graduated from high school, Turkovic was the highest ranked junior player in Croatia and wanted to play tennis in America.

She chose the University of Central Florida, but the transition was not easy.

Turkovic had to learn how to play with others, how to build relationships, understand his role, keep a positive attitude and all what it takes to play in a team.

“It’s tough, but I love it,” Turkovic said. “Now that you have teammates, now you have to encourage them.”

Turkovic also felt a poor connection with the UCF coaching staff.

“They were always pushing me to go back to my old game that I had in Croatia,” Turkovic said.

Despite a productive freshman campaign, Turkvoic fell out of rotation his second year as part of a deep and talented UCF team ranking No. 20 in the nation.

After COVID-19 cut the season short, Turkovic entered the transfer portal and fell in love with ASU’s coaching staff.

Turkovic felt more appreciated at ASU. She missed the goal of player development, something that has been lost since leaving Croatia.

“Training was more about my game rather than trying to change it from UCF,” Turkovic said. “They understand my style of play and help me be a better version of myself.”

In ASU’s season opener on Monday against NAU, Turkovic went 6-3, 6-1 down to second place in a 7-0 win.

Turkovic has taken control of his new leadership role and is setting a standard. His goal with his doubles partner, rookie Patricija Spaka, is to compete in the NCAA Tournament. As a whole, Turkovic wants to bring ASU a conference championship and make a run in the tournament.

“This team is deep and we can do great things together,” Turkovic said.

Turkovic said she plans to use her extra year of eligibility next year after graduating. From there, Turkovic plans to move on to a different goal in his tennis career: coaching. She fell in love with the way tennis is played in America and does not see herself returning to international competition.

“I love college tennis so much, and it’s so different from professional tennis,” she said.

Argyrokastriti said Turkovic is thriving in his new managerial position and their fight is a distant memory that the two remember.

“The fact that she didn’t have the best season last year and bounced back this year in an incredible way is very inspiring, and she leads the team with all her attitude,” Argyrokastriti said.

The way Turkovic has already rallied her team, especially after a difficult first impression, will bear fruit in her future coaching career.

“We call (ourselves) the ‘Super Seven,'” Argyrokastriti said. “The connection is much, much better. We feel so much closer to each other. To be out there and fighting for those six girls is really special.”


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