Team GB will be sending their largest ever tennis squad to the Games. A group of 45 junior, open and masters players will travel with Tennis chairman Greg Rack claiming that there would be “significantly more were it not for injuries and the credit crunch”.
The junior tennis squad features 12 players, including Mancunians Alex Koslover, Hannah Solomon and Georgia Kirsch. Managed By Michelle Wayne, a professional coach who won bronze at the Games in the 1970s, the group hopes to follow in Wayne’s footsteps. She won the mixed doubles competition in the Chandos tournament last month.
Preparing for the hard court competition, GB’s youngest player is Aisling Leonard. The 14-year-old is renowned for her strong forehand, as is doubles partner Gaby Kleimberg, 15.
One of the hopes for the Games is the doubles pairing of Michael Cohen and Myles Golding, known on court as Little and Large. Michael, although small in stature has great hands around the net and plays very well with Myles, the considerably larger of the two, who hits with tremendous power.
Rack said: “One of the pleasures of working with the squad has been watching how all the players have improved their game. Outside of training, all the players are hitting with their own coaches and playing matches for their schools, clubs and counties.”
Members of the girls squad competed at the 2007 European Maccabi Games in Rome but the Maccabiah will be their first experience of a World Games in Israel.
Rack said: “The competition is likely to be incredibly strong for the juniors, since our squad are relatively young and will be coming up against 18-year-olds from USA and Israel, some of whom may be world ranked.”
The Open squad was selected in November and have been training together at Chandos every weekend.
For Greg Tarn, Andy Lee and Julia Nehorai, it is their first Maccabiah experience. The others have all been as juniors, with Marc Baghdadi and Sam Stiefel winning medals in previous Games.
Rack, who will be debuting in the 40-plus category, said: “I have high hopes for this squad. Amber Silverstone is our number one ladies seed, currently on a tennis scholarship in the USA. Baghdadi could also do some damage in any one of the three competitions.”
Kenny Collins, 65, will be competing in his fifth Maccabiah.