Call her the Serbian sensation.
Bojana Pozder arrived last summer as a freshman singles player for the Case High School girls tennis team. Almost immediately claiming the No. 1 singles position, she tore through 39 straight matches with her signature backhand and ended her season with the WIAA Division 1 championship Oct. 13 in Madison.
It was the first time a girls tennis player from Racine County had won a championship at the Division 1 level.
Of the top 10 local sports stories of the year as selected by The Journal Times sports staff, Pozder’s championship was ranked No. 2. The stories were chosen based on news value and impact on the community.
“I feel special,” Pozder said two days after her championship. “I feel like I’ve proved to myself that I could accomplish this.”
It started with supportive parents for Pozder, a student at the Racine Engineering, Arts and Leadership School, which is one mile due west of Case.
Ratko and Danijela were born in Zadar, Croatia and settled in the United States at different times in 1999 in the aftermath of the Croatian War. Danijela first lived in Salt Lake City, Utah for about six months and then moved on to Kenosha because her mother, Milenka, has family there.
After marrying in 2003, Ratko and Danijela became the parents of three children, the eldest of which was Bojana. When their daughter showed an aptitude for hitting a ball with a racket, they made all the time they could for her.
“My parents would hit balls and I would hit with them,” Bojana said. “I remember they would feed me balls and I would just hit them back to them. And there would be a wall and I would just stand there and hit the balls back to the wall.”
As Pozder grew, she continued to refine her skills through club tennis. By the time she joined Case’s tennis program last summer, she was leaps and bounds ahead of most of her competition. Only Logan White of Milwaukee DSHA, whom Pozder defeated 6-2, 6-0 in the state championship match, extended her to three sets during the regular season.
“Her backhand is phenomenal,” Case coach said Kaleena Vasil said when asked to assess Pozder’s greatest attribute. “She doesn’t miss. Her backhand has so much power and she has so much accuracy with that. Her forehand, too. And when she hits her slice, the ball just dies on the court and her opponent can’t get there.”
Pozder used it to create her place in Racine County sports history. Prior to Pozder, the only other female player from the county to win a WIAA singles championship was Union Grove’s Andrea Nilsenm who won the Division 2 singles title in 1995.
The only other state champions in girls tennis from the county were Prairie’s Andrea Bukacek and Kara Metzger, who won three straight Division 2 doubles titles from 2000-02.
“I just love going out there every day and doing it,” Pozder said. “It came naturally to me, so I really like doing it. It’s amazing that I made history in Racine. It’s pretty special.”