Dr Ian Froman, the chairman of Israeli tennis, described 2009 as being a “brilliant year” for his country on the court, despite a tumultuous nine months off it.
Dr Froman said the country’s success in reaching the Davis Cup semi-finals for the first time, as well as the emergence of Dudi Sela as a top-tier player and Andy Ram and Shahar Peer’s continued progress, means Israeli tennis can “more than hold its own”.
He said: “We don’t have the numbers of a France or Spain population wise, but for a country of our size, we competed well.”
On losing to Spain in the last four, he said: "I don't think playing the greatest clay nation away gave us a real chance; they have twenty guys who could beat our boys on clay. We might have had a very small chance playing them on hard court in Tel Aviv.”
The run, which included an away success in Sweden - played behind closed doors due to security fears in the wake of the Gaza incursion and to the backdrop of anti-Israel demonstrations - and a home victory over Russia, added a “few hundred thousand dollars” to the coffers in prize money.
Dr Froman added that: “The International Tennis Federation money will be invested in grass roots.”
He played down talk of Israel hosting an ATP tournament, which it did until the mid-1990s in the shape of the Tel Aviv Open, in the near future. “It's not on the agenda. At the moment we are hosting eight Futures tournaments a year, which allows our young players to boost their world rankings without having to spend money travelling.”
Speaking at this week’s Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions in Bali, Dr Froman said he was “relieved that a possible clash between sports and politics was alleviated”, after Peer was granted a special visa to compete in the 12-woman tournament, despite Indonesia having no diplomatic relations with Israel. “Despite strong opposition, the Indonesian government didn’t want to go head-to-head with the sport’s authorities,” he said.
Speaking exclusively to the JC during this week's Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions in Bali, Dr Froman said he was “relieved that a possible clash between sports and politics was alleviated,” after Shahar Peer was granted a special visa to compete in the 12-woman tournament, despite Indonesia having no diplomatic relations with Israel.
"Despite strong opposition to the decision, the Indonesian government didn't want to go head-to-head with the sport's authorities,” he said.