What a difference a year makes.
Freshman Jelly Bozovic thought she played her best tennis already.
After a disappointing season in her final year of high school, Bozovic feared junior year was her peak and she would never get back to that quality of tennis.
In a sense, she was right. Bozovic is not playing like the high school junior she was two years ago. She is playing better than that.
Bozovic is 4-0 in singles in her debut dual match season.
What's more impressive is Bozovic has not dropped a set in any of her four victories, making her undefeated in every facet of singles.
“I owe this all to my coaches and my team,” Bozovic said. “They believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.”
From Burr Ridge, Illinois, the Lyons Township graduate chose IU without even taking an official or unofficial visit.
After a tournament in Bloomington, Bozovic said former IU Coach Lin Loring gave her a tour of the campus and facilities, and from that moment she knew it had to be IU.
“I just saw everything ingrained in my mind," Bozovic said. "I saw myself walking to class, walking to the tennis center, playing here, I just saw it.”
Bozovic committed to IU before Loring announced his retirement last January.
At the time, Loring was the winningest coach in women’s Division I tennis history. IU Assistant Coach Ramiro Azcui, who worked with Loring for 24 years, replaced Loring as the leader of the program.
Getting recruited by one head coach and having to play for another did not concern Bozovic.
“Coach Ramiro and I talked as much as Loring and I did,” Bozovic said. “I wasn’t nervous or anything like that. I didn’t think anything was gonna be different. I knew I was in good hands.”
Bozovic came to this program wanting to improve, and Azcui was eager to coach her.
Azcui said when Bozovic came to IU they sat down and both decided in order for her to play collegiate-caliber tennis, she would need to be coachable.
Bozovic told Azcui whatever he needs her to do, she is going to make those changes, which is why Azcui is not surprised by her success.
“She listens so well and whatever you tell her she tries to do exactly that,” Azcui said. “She is believing in the process of improving, and that’s why her results are so strong.”
Bozovic opened the season defeating Western Michigan freshman Valeria Riegraf 6-2, 6-0, followed by a victory over Butler freshman Lauren Marx 6-3, 6-0 in the Crimson Invite.
The following weekend, Bozovic faced Cincinnati's No. 4 and Xavier’s No. 5 singles players in the same day.
Bozovic’s 6-4, 6-4, win over Cincinnati freshman Emma Miceli helped IU win the dual, and a few hours later she beat Xavier sophomore Rachel Reichenbach 7-6, 6-3.
Bozovic attributes her impressive start to her coaches, Azcui and assistant coach Ryan Miller.
“They told me to trust them, and I trust them with everything,” Bozovic said. “I followed everything they told me what to do and I started playing better instantly.”
Her forehand needed improvement coming into IU. Bozovic said it just was not there. The forehand struggle affected her mental game when opponents consistently returned her forehand shot.
Bozovic did what the coaches asked, and she said she started hitting her forehand better than she ever had, including in her junior year of high school.
“She is a fighter,” Azcui said. “She wants to keep getting better. She’s one of those I would call like a gym rat. She would be on the court all day long if she could.”
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