Harel Levy got the Israeli participation at the US Open started on the right foot with a win in on the opening matches on the first day of qualifying.
Levy, who is ranked 300 in the world by the ATP, is one of four Israelis – together with Dudi Sela, Noam Okun and Tzipi Obziler – slated to play in the qualifying rounds. Another four – Anna Smashnova, Shahar Pe'er, Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich – advanced automatically to the main draws on the strength of their rankings.
Levy had little trouble with Serbia Dusan Vemic (219), breezing to a 6-4, 6-2 victory. It will likely get tougher for him in the next round where he will face the second seed, Daniele Bracciali (88) of Italy. There are three qualifying rounds at the Grand Slam before reaching the main draw.
Sela (162) is scheduled to start against Scottish sensation Andy Murray (122), who won the junior title at the event last year. Okun's (184) first match pits him against Canadian Frederic Niemeyer (193).
Obziler (117), who reached the second round and threatened Justine Henin-Hardenne in a threeset thriller last year, faces South African Natalie Grandin (158) in her first match.
Smashnova (45) and Pe'er (59) are in action this week at the Forest Hills Women's Tennis Classic, a 16-player tune-up event. Both players are scheduled to start on Wednesday, with Smashnova meeting Lucie Safarova (66) of the Czech Republic while Pe'er faces No. 1 Sania Mirza (50) of India.
Ram and Erlich are using the the Pilot Pen Tennis tournament in New Haven, Connecticut, as their final tune-up. But the big news there has been Ram's (454) singles play. Ram, who hadn't played singles at a ATP tour level event since October, recorded three qualifying wins just to reach the main draw where he stunned Ricardo Mello (56) of Brazil 6-1, 6-4 on Wednesday. He will meet Chile's Jewish tennis star, Nicolas Massu (58), in the next round.
Ram and Erlich will open their doubles play against the second seeds, Mahesh Bhupathi of India and Martin Damm of the Czech Republic.
24-08-2005 - www.jpost.com
Aug 24th, 2005, 07:49 AM
Tennis / Andy Ram upsets Mello in New Haven
Andy Ram scored his first singles victory over an ATP top 100-ranked player yesterday when he downed world No. 56 Ricardo Mello of Portugal 6-1, 6-4 in the first round of the New Haven Open in Connecticut.
Ram, who is ranked a lowly 454 in the world of singles, was to have met Greg Rusedski in the next round, but the Briton pulled out of the competition yesterday saying he needed to rest ahead of the U.S. Open next week.Ram will now face Chile's Nicolas Massu for a place in the quarterfinals.
"Basically, it's just fatigue," said Rusedski, who reached the semifinals in Montreal last week. "I've run out of gas a little bit. I've played a lot this summer, and the body's just telling me I'm fatigued."
Ram will not be competing in the singles at the U.S open and will concentrate on the doubles with partner Yoni Erlich as the 10th-ranked Israeli pair aims for their third final in the space of a month.
Harel Levi, meanwhile, advanced to the second qualifying round of the U.S. Open yesterday with a 6-4, 6-2 defeat of Dusan Vemic of Serbia. Noam Okun was scheduled to play overnight in the first qualifying round against Frederick Niemayer of Canada while Dudi Sela faces British teen sensation Andrew Murray.
24-08-2005 - www.haaretz.com
Aug 24th, 2005, 07:55 AM
Great idea for a thread :D :yeah:
Aug 25th, 2005, 03:24 AM
Aug 28th, 2005, 10:24 AM
Aug. 28, 2005 4:58 | Updated Aug. 28, 2005 5:32
Pe'er: 'I just want to do my best'
By AARON KAPLOWITZ
When Shahar Pe'er and Anna Smashnova take the court in the women's singles tournament of the 2005 US Open, they each will have the chance to add to their growing legacies as perhaps the best Israeli female tennis players ever.
"I don't really think if I will be the best," said Pe'er, 18, following her opening round loss to Sania Mirza at the Forest Hills Women's Tennis Classic last week. "I just think that week by week I will try my best."
"Probably they're right," Smashnova said about people who consider her and Pe'er Israel's best ever. "I don't think they have had better players than us."
At one point in 2002, Smashnova, 29, was ranked 15th in the world, but she knows that her younger colleague has a tremendous upside, and may, one day, surpass her. "[Pe'er's] a good player with a big future," she said.
Although she has yet to win a WTA tournament, Pe'er showed how big her future may be when she gave Serena Williams fits in the third round of the NASDAQ-100 Open in March, eventually losing 6-3, 6-3.
The US Open may be the biggest tennis tournament in America, but both Israeli women shrug it off as just another competition that does not require special preparation. "Every tournament I train the same," said Smashnova after a practice session at the US Open's facilities. "No matter if it's Wimbledon, the US Open, or Forest Hills you train the same."
Pe'er echoed her compatriot's sentiments. "It's a big tournament," said Pe'er. "But if you think too much you won't do your best."
Both women will need to be in peak form if they hope to make noise like Pe'er did by advancing to the third round of the 2004 French Open, her first Grand Slam. "I just want to do my best, and whatever will come will come," she said. "If I win it's good, and if I lose, I'll look forward to my next match."
As for Smashnova, overcoming her opening round Grand Slam woes - she has lost 23 times in 41 appearances - will be reason enough to celebrate. "Successful would be to win one match," said the Russian-born Israeli who currently resides in Italy.
Pe'er, who has already achieved her goal this year of ranking in the top 100, would not make any substantial predictions on who would hoist this year's trophy. "Of course I hope it's me, but it's too far ahead."
The US Open will take place from August 29 to September 11 in Flushing Meadows, New York.
lovely interview, Anna and Shahar :hearts:
thinking about posting it in GM
excellent thread, :yeah:
Aug 30th, 2005, 03:46 AM
Sep 23rd, 2005, 01:13 AM
Pe'er pushes Sharapova to three sets
Shahar Pe'er stretched world No. 1 Maria Sharapova to three sets in a two-plus hour match in the second round of the China Open in Beijing on Thursday, but could only walk away with pride from her performance.
Pe'er struggled early before picking up her game in the second set in the 6-0, 5-7, 6-2 match.
"I focused in the third set and won it," Sharapova said of her first meeting with the Israeli.
It was also Pe'er's first-ever match against a reigning No. 1.
A confident Pe'er told Army Radio: "It was OK. A long game. In the first set I was completely out of it, but I kept fighting and played good tennis.
"I learned from this [match] and I'm happy that I've reached the point that I'm at today. I've come along way and can get to the highest levels. It's all a matter of tie and hard work."
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
What do a hockey goalie, a pole-vaulter, two fencers, a marathoner and a kayaker have to do with the coming New Year?
They are female Jewish athletes whose images grace a new 5766 calendar, "Jewish + Female = Athlete: Portraits of Strength From Around the World," produced by the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, celebrating 14 current stars and 13 legends from the past in a tribute to the accomplishments of Jewish women in sport.
"Jewish girls deserve to grow up knowing that strength is beauty," said Shulamit Reinharz, the founding director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. "And Jewish children of both genders should look at these amazing athletes as role models."
Through action photography, the calendar celebrates contemporary Jewish female athletes from around the world, and pays tribute to the stories of Jewish female athletes who were pioneers in breaking down barriers.
For instance, the month of April, Nisan-Iyar, highlights Israel's professional tennis star, Anna Smashnova. It also details the story of Angela Buxton, the only Jewish woman in history to win at Wimbledon.
Buxton overcame pervasive anti-Semitism in the tennis world. She teamed with the black player Althea Gibson, winning the women's doubles championships at Wimbledon and the French Open in 1956, and went on to become the co-founder of the Israel Tennis Centres.
The "cover girls" for the calendar are Sada and Emily Jacobson, sisters and saber fencers from Atlanta who competed in the 2004 Olympics - Sada won a bronze medal - and have each won NCAA championships.
"You can't win just be being the strongest and the fastest. You also have to by the smartest," said Emily Jacobson, in a quote accompanying the picture.
Sada Jacobson felt that it was a "big honor" to be on the cover. She said fencing "is a great sport because it incorporates the physical with the intellectual."
She and her sister, she added, are "extremely" competitive: "When we fence each other, it's all business. We go to win. But when the bout is over, we're back to being sisters."
The featured women were chosen for their athletic prowess and pride in their Jewish identity. The decision to focus on this subject is credited to Nathalie Alyon, who worked for the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute.
Said Reinharz: "We hope to help expand the understanding of Jewish women's lives, interests and accomplishments and encourage the Jewish community to rethink traditional gender definitions."
This year's calendar is the latest in a series of produced by the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute to create a new image of Jewish women. A previous calendar featured female rabbis from around the world.
Reinharz explained that this was part of an effort to change the stereotypes surrounding the images of Jews - both in the Jewish and non-Jewish communities.
"What's the typical image of a Jew? All too often, it's of a bearded older man praying or blowing the shofar."
The images of female athletes provide a sharp contrast with that stereotype - there's Zhanna Pintusevich-Block, a sprinter from Ukraine, in mid-stride, arms pumping, and Jillian Schwartz, a pole-vaulter from the United States, soaring over the bar, nothing but blue sky above her muscular body.
"When we're looking at these women, we're looking at their bodies, for sure," acknowledged Reinharz. "It's also important for us that you look beyond the picture and see people who have accomplished so much, as humans who have a history, using their minds to figure out what's required to achieve success, using their emotions to go the extra mile."
The calendar can be ordered by calling 781-736-8114 or over the Internet at: www.brandeis.edu/hbi.
Dec 23rd, 2005, 12:18 PM
the forum had been quite quiet lately so here's a little article to wake it up.
Dec. 22, 2005 2:21
Obziler, Valtzer crowned national champions
Tzipi Obziler won her second consecutive Israeli national championship on Wednesday evening, beating Shahar Pe'er 6-4 6-4 in a repeat of last years final.
Dekel Valtzer was crowned men's champion for the first time in his career with a 3-6 6-4 6-3 win over Amir Weintraub.
Obziler, who is ranked 138 in the world, has now won the Israeli championship three times, with her first victory coming in 2000.
"The most important thing is the final result," Obziler said after the match. It was a tactical game and we both played well."
Pe'er, who is ranked 45 in the world and was the champion in 2001 and 2003, struggled with her serve for most of the match and committed numerous double faults.
"I've been making changes to my serve this week and it showed today," Pe'er explained after the game.
The match began with both players unable to hold their serve and the first eight games all went against the serve.
Obziler was the first to hold serve, winning the ninth game and going up five games to four.
Pe'er wasn't capable of holding off Obziler in the tenth game and the set ended at 6-4 to Obziler.
After being broken in her first five service games, Pe'er finally held on to her serve at the start of the second set. Pe'er picked up her game in the second set and opened a 3-1 lead.
Obziler hit back immediately and won three games on the trot.
Pe'er temporarily stopped the rot winning the eighth game and evening the set at 4-4.
Despite Pe'er's comeback attempt, Obziler proved to be too strong on the day and the veteran won the next two games and the set 6-4.
"Obziler played really well and she earned her victory," said a weeping Pe'er after the match.
"It's the second year in a row Obziler has played well against me and she deserves all the credit."
Pe'er tried to explain the tears at the end of the match and said, "Nobody likes to lose, but you need to learn to handle defeats. I'm a professional athlete and I hate losing. Nothing connected for me and I didn't manage to string together a good run of points."
The men's final resumed at one-set-all after rain stopped play on Friday.
Valtzer broke Weintraub in the first game of the third set and never looked back. Weintraub was unable to handle Valtzer's power game and the 21-year-old opened a 5-2 lead.
Weintraub managed to break Valtzer's serve in the eighth game, but was broken back immediately and Valtzer won the set and the match.
"It's a great feeling," said Valtzer after the match. "The rain delay was extremely difficult for me. I won the second set on Friday and the momentum was on my side, but the rain delay meant I had to comeback and start all over today."
Weintraub, who qualified for the final after Israeli number one Dudi Sela had to retire with an injury, said, "It's disappointing to lose. He had a little luck in the first game of the set and after that he played defensive tennis and that won him the match."
The 2006 tennis season is set to begin in a couple of weeks and the Israeli championship was a perfect chance for the players to prepare and set goals for the coming year.
"I hope to qualify for all the Grand slams this season and I want to finally break into the top 100 players", Obziler said.
Obziler and Pe'er leave for Australia next week where they will play two tournaments before the Australian Open begins in the middle of January. "I had a brilliant 2005 and ended the year ranked in the top 50," Pe'er said.
"My goal for this year is to improve my results in the Grand Slams and to improve my all round game."
Apr 30th, 2006, 02:33 PM
A new Anna Smashnova interview, in Hebrew, from nrg :D
Andy Ram's success in the mixed doubles final at Wimbledon on Saturday may have a negative side for Israel's recreational tennis players: the courts at your local tennis center could be full for weeks to come.
After Shahar Pe'er's run to the fourth round at the French Open last month, several centers reported three times as many players filling the courts as before. The crowding will get worse now.
These players' achievements at the highest levels are no fluke. For generations the country has produced a relatively high number of world-class players and the Israel Tennis Association's efforts should ensure international successes for years to come.
The plan to bring tennis to the people has seen centers built throughout the country, from Kiryat Shmona and Tiberias in the north down to Beersheba and Ofakim. Last year the first center in a Druse village was opened in Sajur.
There are currently 18 teenage tennis players at the youth academy at the Wingate Institute and recently the ITA decided to focus its efforts on an even younger age group, sending out coaches Oded Jacob and Yuval Higer to scout for prospects aged 8-10.
This summer there are a record 4,000 youngsters enrolled at tennis camps throughout the country. And the attention to tennis can be expected to peak in October, when the Anda Open, the first ever WTA Tour level tournament in Israel, brings some of the top stars in the women's game to Ramat Hasharon for a week-long event.
Even before the ongoing buzz over Pe'er's and Ram's Grand Slam successes, tennis was arguably the most popular and most successful individual sport in Israel. One reason for that is its rich history.
The men's Davis Cup team had a near decade-long run at the competition's highest levels in the late 1980s and early 90s with Shlomo Glickstein, Amos Mansdorf, Shahar Perkiss and Gilad Bloom leading the way.
The next generation saw Anna Smashnova shine on the women's pro circuit, winning 11 career tournaments and and reaching a career-best ranking of No. 15 in 2003. The hope on the men's side, Harel Levy, was ranked as high as 30 at the age of 22 before he was derailed by a hip injury from which he never fully recovered.
Today the mantle has been passed to Pe'er, a 19-year-old who is already closing in on the top 20, and doubles stars Yoni Erlich and Ram, who are among the top five pairs on the circuit today.
The only cloud in the current sunny setup is that top young players too often need money from home to stage a breakthrough. To gain experience, young players must pay their way to tournaments overseas, which costs far more here than it does for a player in Europe, who can often hop onto a train to compete in countless events in neighboring countries.
The ITA, which raises over 70 percent of its budget from private sources and sponsors to begin with, has added more junior events to encourage prospective players, but there just aren't enough to guarantee that we will see players without the advantage of financial assistance at home breaking through in a regular fashion.
Only more sponsors - whether of facilities, tournaments or players themselves - will open even more doors for prospective players to help give fans of the sport the pride they felt when Ram lifted his Wimbledon trophy above his head on Saturday night.
This unfortunately is true not just of tennis, but of all individual sports - as well as most team sports aside from basketball and soccer.
Even the few fields that have delivered Olympic medals for Israel - judo, wind sailing and kayaking - lack the necessary funds to woo participants across the country and identify those most likely to flourish internationally.
Winning prestige abroad is far from the only consideration, however. The sports community needs more funding to better counter the appeal of computer games and television, and get today's youth engaged in more of the physical activity essential to good health.
Government and private funding can help with all this. But so, crucially, must the education system and the parents. If we can make sure that more of our children are outside playing in the afternoons, they'll be a lot healthier and we'll be one step closer to another Wimbledon champ or Olympic medalist.