Shahar Peer will represent Israel in the Federation Cup World Group II playoff in Estonia this weekend before flying to Fes where she will become the first ever Israeli to play in Morocco.
Defeat for Israel in Estonia, after they narrowly lost to Ukraine earlier this year, will result in relegation to the European regional zone. Estonia will be strong favourites with Kaia Kanepi (19) and Ani Maret (111) high ranked than Peer (53) and Tzipi Obziler (228).
Israel’s cause has not been helped by the fact that Peer stayed behind in Israel seeking extra preparation for the clay courts for the tournament in Morocco, starting on Monday. This will be followed by the French Open in May.
With the Federation Cup tie on hard courts, Peer believes that her versatility will see her through. “There will not be a problem,” she said: “I have made similar switches in the past and there will be enough time to get used to the courts in Estonia. But I must also consider my own career.”
In the wake of the international furore over Dubai’s refusal to grant her a visa, Peer correctly calculated that the Moroccans dare not bar her entry. In 1997, Morocco refused to play a Davis Cup tie in Israel and several years ago the Moroccans persuaded Obziler to cancel participation in a tournament due to security concerns.
Peer, who turns 22 next week, is alarmed by her fall in the rankings and wants to focus on smaller tournaments in order to bounce back and the Fes event suits this strategy.
The Israel Open Challenger tournament which starts at Ramat Hasharon on May 4 has doubled its prize money to $100,000. The three top 100 plays are registered are Dudi Sela (59), Lu Hyen Sun (63) and Bobby Reynolds (78).