Friday will be the first time in over three years that Israel will welcome some of the world’s best tennis players to Israel!
This week, International Tennis will return to Israel as Slovenia visits Tel Aviv in a Davis Cup showdown at the Drive In Arena. The winner will stay in Group One Europe/Africa Zone while the losing country will have to play another Davis Cup round in September.
It wasn’t that long ago when Israel was in the World Group of 16 countries, but due to the war last year, the Holy Land has been unable to host the tournament. This will be the first time in over three years that Israel will welcome some of the world’s best tennis players. The last time was in April of 2012 when Portugal played at the Ramat HaSharon Tennis Center losing the first 3 matches in a row to Israel.
Having an event of this stature is very important for not only the tennis players but for the country, said Israel Tennis Association spokesperson Ofra Freedman, a former tennis player. “This is an opportunity for everyone to come out to the Drive-In Arena for a celebration of the sport of tennis. Last year we were all set to have the ATP Tournament and then the Davis Cup in September of 2014, but because of the war Israel has to play the matches in Florida.”
Playing the World Group Play-Off in Florida did not help Israel as they fell to Argentina 3-2 after leading 2-1 going into the final day of the competition. However a return to Israel has raised optimism and hope that the Blue-and-White can move ahead and cement their place in the Group One while looking to go back into the World Group in the near future.
Israel has always been an active participant in Davis Cup play and played their first matches back in 1949 when they faced Denmark. The Davis Cup tournament was founded in 1900 by four members of the Harvard University team who wanted to challenge there British counterparts in a tennis competition. One of the Harvard players Dwight Davis designed the format and the Davis Cup has been an international Tennis tournament ever since.
The most successful Davis Cup tourney in Israel’s history was in 2009 when they made it all the way to the semi-finals of the World Group event defeating Sweden and powerhouse Russia along the way before succumbing to Spain. Israel has participated 10 times in the World Group and will be looking to head back to play among the tennis giants as quickly as possible.
Many of Israel’s tennis greats have participated in Davis Cup play with Shlomo Glickstein holding the all time Israeli win record with 44, while 31 of those came in singles competition. Amos Mansdorf and of course the doubles team of recently retired Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich always gave the opposition fits.
There are only a few ticket packages remaining for the matches that will take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On Friday, Israel’s top ranked men’s tennis player Dudi Sela will play in one of the singles matches while the other will be played by Amir Weintraub. Weintraub will be making his return to the tennis court after being out almost a year due to an injury. Other players who could see action are Wimbledon doubles semi-finalist Yoni Erlich, Bar Botzer and Edan Leshem. On Saturday a doubles match will take place, while on Sunday there will be reverse singles matches.
On Tuesday July 14th there will be an open practice free to the public beginning at 9:45am at the Drive In Arena! You’ll be able to see some of the stars as they prepare for their matches and have a chance to learn some tips from the pros! The players will also take pictures and sign autographs for the fans and there will be a number of prizes to be given away as well!
This is a great opportunity to show your support for Israeli tennis!
See you this coming weekend at the Drive In Arena to cheer Israel on!