Freshman Veljko Krstic, tennis player for the Elon men’s tennis team, came to Elon from Belgrade, Serbia. Novak Djokovic, the world's best tennis player according to the Association of Tennis Professionals, comes from the same city as Krstic.  

Krstic said that growing up watching Djokovic play inspired him to make tennis more than just a hobby.

“I started having more interest in tennis because of him,” Krstic said. “He’s brought so much popularity to the sport. As a kid we all wanted to play tennis to be as successful as him. He’s a true legend of the sport.” 

Now, Krstic continues on his own tennis career at Elon; however, his sights weren’t always tinted maroon and gold. Initially considering bypassing college to play professionally, Krstic decided on Elon after being impressed by the school’s offerings, including the Martha & Spencer Love School of Business and Elon men’s tennis head coach Michael Leonard

“I was trying to be a professional tennis player and skip college. But I got introduced to many coaches, including Michael,” Krstic said.  “I realized that college tennis is a great opportunity to get an education as well as compete at a high level.” 

Krstic appeared in the team’s first two doubles matches of the spring season, against No. 14 ranked Wake Forest University Jan. 16 and Rice University Jan. 27, working with senior teammate Nicholas Campbell in both. The duo ended their set against the Demon Deacons due to time resulting in a 5-3 loss, and lost their set 6-2 against Rice.

In singles, Krstic channeled his inner Djokovic in the team’s first home match against the North Carolina Central University Eagles on Feb. 5, winning his match 6-2, 6-2. His performances capped off a perfect afternoon for the Phoenix, as it went on to defeat the Eagles 7-0 and secure its first match win of the season. Krstic said Djokovic’s ascension to the top of the world rankings was an inspiration to himself not only in his childhood, but as he began his collegiate career.

“He’s the No. 1, in my opinion the best tennis player ever,”  Krstic said. 

Krstic continued his singles success in the team’s next match against the Campbell University Camels Feb. 7, as he won in three sets to clinch a 4-3 victory for Elon.

However, Djokovic’s success on the court isn’t the only way he has inspired many like Krstic. His childhood in Serbia was marked by conflict, including the 1999 NATO bombing of Belgrade. 

“When he’s talking about his life, his development as a player, he’s talking about the tough situation in his early life,” Krstic said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to not be involved in the war situation he has been in.”