By Paul Nilsen
At the tender age of twenty years old, rising star Tijana Krivacevic is busy preparing for what will be an incredible fifth EuroLeague Women campaign and is bracing herself for another roller-coaster ride - something that aptly describes her experiences of the competition to date.
After the highs of stepping out onto the ELW floor with Pecs aged just sixteen and reaching Final Four with MKB Euroleasing in 2009, she now also knows about the lows after a frustrating season last time round.
Back in Sopron for a third season, the forward admits she is still digesting the fall-out from a stop-start season in 2009-10.
"Last year wasn't too successful for us. It started with the injuries so we couldn't build the team as we planned and also it interrupted us from the preparation for the whole season."
"Obviously it didn't make things easier that we got to the Final Four the year before, so expectations were high but unfortunately we couldn't deal with them last season."
"Even if you don't want to think that way it is always there that we made the Final Four and the expectations are always going to be higher the following year."
"That's somehow normal although considering that we were a very young team I think we just couldn't deal with those expectations in the way we probably should have."
This year probably won't get much easier for Krivacevic and her team-mates after being drawn with ELW front-runners UMMC Ekaterinburg and Fenerbahce SK although Krivacevic is bullish when it comes to assessing her teams chances as they look to turn the page and forget a disappointing 2009-10.
"Well, the team is totally new and we are still missing two dominant players but I can already tell that we are going to be a very unpleasant team for our opponents. We will be always ready to enter the fray."
"In EuroLeague Women you don't have easy opponents or easy teams that you can play against. Everybody knows that and we are all ready for that. I think our group is tough but I know that we will try our best to win as many games as we can."
"We will see how many is going to be enough for us."
One reason making it even tougher is the loss of the heartbeat of the team in Jelena Milovanovic with the Serbian having completed the switch to reigning EuroLeague Women champions Spartak Moscow Region.
Rather than dwelling over the void she has left, Krivacevic was quick to back her former colleague to be a big hit in the Russian capital.
"Jelena is my good friend."
"I'm sure she will be fine and she will find her place in the team and I wish her all the best with her season!"
One of the big hopes for MKB EuroLeasing is that the likes of Krivacevic can now step up and along with the rest of the players, help plug the gap. She is gaining experience with each year and feels she has learned so much since she was first given the opportunity to tread the ELW boards at sixteen with Pecs.
"It certainly does seem incredible!"
"I remember my first game and my first score on that game, I was so happy just to get a chance to play."
"However, I also remember how behind I was physically and mentally at that time. I was really young with no experience at all."
It isn't only in EuroLeague Women where Krivacevic is bulking up her resume and enhancing her reputation. For during the summer she got to play plenty of minutes for a depleted Hungary National team under the watchful eye of club coach Norbert Szekely. While the campaign was something of a massive let down team-wise, Krivacevic posted good numbers although on reflection, feels she could have done even better.
"Obviously we would have an easier job if it would be more players playing but that is what we had, and we focused only on what we had, not what we could have had."
"I think whoever was there did the best they could do for the team but unfortunately, not too much luck was with us. We almost had all the games in our hands until the last quarter but than we couldn't keep it going all the way to the end of the game."
"I know Norbi and he knows me as well, and he knows my capabilities."
"For me, I feel like I could have done better this summer, I knew I had way more in me and I was full of energy but unfortunately my injury stopped me from my best performance and made my situation tougher."
As well as lighting it up in EuroLeague Women during years to come, the forward is also determined to become a success across the Pond and she was thrilled to be drafted by Seattle Storm earlier this year.
She watched the club claim the WNBA Championship recently and also made the trip Stateside to meet some of her potential team-mates and in the case of Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird, two of her idols.
"It was unbelievable that I got drafted for such a great team, actually right now the best team in WNBA. I would like to congratulate this way again for winning the WNBA Championship!"
"I visited the team this summer for few days and it was good to see how different it is over there compared to Europe. I met all the players and it was amazing shake hands with Sue Bird or Lauren Jackson. It was a very nice experience."
"Of course one day I would like to play in WNBA, so that is a big challenge and motivation for me for the next few years."
"I'm still young so I feel like I need a lot of work to be fully satisfied with my game. I still have a lot to work on, so I can reach my maximum potential. Nevertheless, on the court, I don't care about my age."