Israel Tennis hits back at player critics

By Simon Griver and Danny Caro, July 1, 2010
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Out: Dudi Sela, who blamed the ITC for not doing enough to improve the game

Out: Dudi Sela, who blamed the ITC for not doing enough to improve the game

As the last Israeli tumbled out at Wimbledon, a senior official at the Israel Tennis Centre has hit back at the claims of Dudi Sela who blasted the state of the Israeli game and the way it is run.

Sela crashed out in the opening round of the men's singles while Shahar Peer was eliminated in round two of the ladies competition. Andy Ram was the only Israeli involved in week two at the All England Tennis Club but he was eliminated from the men's doubles and mixed doubles on Monday.

As reported, Sela made a parting shot following his defeat, saying that "the ITC is not doing a good job and there are no good, young players coming through".

But Vardit Eshel, spokesman for the ITC, denied his accusations. "This simply is not true," she said.

"Let's talk facts. Valeria Patyuk, for example, is the top ranked European Under 14 girls player. Igor Smilansky is the fifth ranked Under 16 boy's player in Europe and we have eight players in Europe's top 100 rankings in the Under 14 and Under 16 categories.

"We continue to expand our tennis programmes for elite players and disadvantaged youth and last month we opened our 15th tennis centre nationwide in Akko.

"Thousands of children have been beneficiaries of our various programmes including Dudi Sela himself."

Another reflection of the organisation's success is that Janine Strauss, CEO at the ITC, will be awarded the Knesset Prize next week for her life's work. She has been involved in Israeli tennis since immigrating from South Africa in 1971.

As a player, she represented Israel in the Federation Cup and for the past 10 years she has served as CEO of the ITC. She will be stepping down as soon as a replacement is found in the coming months.

In contrast with the upbeat comments of the ITC, Dr Ian Froman, chairman of Israeli tennis, was more cautious about the future. "Dudi shouldn't have aired his dirty washing in public but I'm afraid that there are no new prospects besides our present group this year," he said. "It does get tougher as more and more countries are investing in their potential players.

"As you have seen, our players are like the stock market-up and down. There is no question that any of them are capable of going far - Dudi beating Roddick on grass and then losing first round the week after- the same with Andy and Shahar. It was great to see Yoni Erlich back and winning the doubles at Queens with Djokovic.

Hopefully if his ranking now goes up he will play again with Andy in the next year. For a little country with many difficulties, we are still so proud of their results on and off the court."

"There are many countries who also haven't made the grade recently having once been dominant in the top echelon. Is it just no luck, no talent, no money, no desire, not the right coaching, or a combination? Or even to have the coach who gives his all to the potential player, both tennis wise and love and involvement.

"I wonder if the bottom line is that it is so tough to get to the top today, that the dedication has to be supreme. Perhaps basically in the Western countries in general, kids don't have ambition because they are just not hungry enough and don't need the tough road of tennis to make it in life financially.

They have their bread already buttered or can get the butter in easier ways. The kid who has to not only get the butter, but also the bread, knows that tennis, if he is talented and athletic, is a good a possibility as any other roads open to him."

Meanwhile, Sela, ranked 60 at the start of Wimbledon, is expected to slip out of the world's top 100 ranking after losing to 13th seed Mikhail Youzhny. He reached the fourth round last year.

Sela and Michal Przysiezny looked set to capitalise on John Isner's marathon match in the men's singles after the American giant withdrew from the doubles, but they were forced to withdraw after Przysiezny suffered an injury.

Seeded eight , Ram and Austrian partner Julian Knowle were beaten in round three of the men's doubles by 11th seeds Marcel Granollers and Tommy Robredo of Spain. A few hours later, Ram and his Russian partner Elena Vesnina were beaten in straight sets by Kim Clijsters and Xavier Malisse.ments of the ITC, Dr Ian Froman, chairman of Israeli tennis, was more cautious about the future.

“Dudi shouldn’t have aired his dirty washing in public but the truth is that it does get tougher as more and more countries are investing in their potential players.

“As you have seen, our players are like the stock market-up and down. There is no question that any of them are capable of going far — Dudi beating Roddick on grass and then losing first round the week after— the same with Andy and Shahar.

“It was great to see Yoni Erlich back and winning the doubles at Queens with Djokovic. Hopefully, if his ranking now goes up, he will play again with Andy in the next year. For a little country with many difficulties, we are still so proud of their results on and off the court.

“There are many countries who also haven’t made the grade recently having once been dominant in the top echelon. Is it just no luck, no talent, no money, no desire, not the right coaching, or a combination? Or even to have the coach who gives his all to the potential player, both tennis wise and love and involvement.

“I wonder if the bottom line is that it is so tough to get to the top today, that the dedication has to be supreme.
“Basically, in the Western countries in general, kids don’t have ambition because they are just not hungry enough and don’t need the tough road of tennis to make it in life financially.

“They have their bread already buttered or can get the butter in easier ways. The kid who has to not only get the butter, but also the bread, knows that tennis, if he is talented and athletic, is a good a possibility.”

Ranked 60 at the start of Wimbledon, Sela is expected to slip out of the top 100 ranking after losing to Mikhail Youzhny.
Sela and Michal Przysiezny looked set to capitalise on John Isner’s marathon match in the men’s singles after the American giant withdrew from the doubles, but they were forced to withdraw after Przysiezny suffered an injury.

Seeded eight, Ram and Julian Knowle were beaten in round three of the doubles by 11th seeds Marcel Granollers and Tommy Robredo of Spain. A few hours later, Ram and his Russian partner Elena Vesnina were beaten in straight sets by Kim Clijsters and Xavier Malisse.

    Last updated: 4:09pm, July 1 2010