Boston’s kosher ‘lobster’ is Israeli tennis player

A kosher lobster has been spotted in Boston this summer. And it is the Israeli variety.

Israeli tennis player Amir Hadad is one of five players on the co-ed Boston Lobsters World Team Tennis (WTT) team. World Team Tennis, co-founded by Billie Jean King in 1974, features 11 teams from across the United States, playing a 14 match season in the month of July. Each WTT “match” features five events — men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles. A WTT “set” is the first player or team to win five games. The winner of the “match” is the team to win the most games.

Hadad returned to the Lobsters for a second consecutive season after playing for the St. Louis Aces in 2003 and 2004. The 6′, 185 pound right hander (who hits with a two-handed backhand) was born in Ramle, Israel and currently lives in Budapest, Hungary with his wife of ten years, and their three year old daughter. Most of the Hadad family still lives in Israel, and Amir plans to eventually return there.

Hadad appreciates the support he has received from the Jewish community while on the road.

“The Jewish community is always so nice and supportive. I don’t spend so much time in Israel, and it is tough to be away from home-and it is nice to come across Hebrew speakers on the road,” he said, in an interview at the Beren Tennis Center at Harvard University before a recent match.

Hadad was looking forward to meeting up with fellow Israel tennis players Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich, who were on the roster of the St. Louis Aces for the summer WTT season.

Hadad fondly recalls his years learning and playing at Israel’s Wingate Institute. “We grew up there-Andy, Yoni, Harel Levy and me.”

Hadad, 29, turned pro in 1995. In 2003, he reached a career high, ranking 180 in the world for singles and 87 for doubles. He is currently ranked 864 in singles and 1284 for doubles.

Hadad has played in many tournaments throughout the world in his 12-year professional career. Hadad has won 11 Challenger doubles events, including Rome in 2006. In 2006, he also won Futures singles titles in Israel and China.

Hadad has also qualified for several prestigious tournaments including Wimbledon, The French Open and the U.S. Open. In 1999, Hadad lost in the first round (for singles) at Wimbledon. In the 2002 French Open, Hadad lost in the 2nd round.

Unique Partnership
Hadad is perhaps best known around the world for playing doubles in the 2002 Wimbledon tournament with Aisam Ul-Haq Quereshi, a Pakistani Muslim. The pair reached the third round at Wimbledon after upsetting the 11th seeds in the second round.

While Hadad and Quereshi never intended to make a statement by teaming up, their pairing made international news. The Pakistani Sports Board threatened to ban Quereshi for teaming with a Jew. In contrast, Hadad received support from his fellow citizens and his government. In time, the Pakistani government’s threat was rescinded, and Quereshi was invited to join Pakistan’s Davis Cup team.

Quereshi, interviewed after a grueling day of both singles and doubles at the Campbell’s Tennis Championships at Newport, Rhode Island last month, is proud of his partnership with Hadad at Wimbeldon.

He reports, “We teamed up to do well — not for the image. You don’t mix politics and religion with sports.”

Hadad recalls, “We played against each other two times-and I beat him two times. The third time, I asked him if he wanted to join me. We had one thing in common-tennis! We played great together — and we have fun on and off the court.” Quereshi and Hadad clearly shared more than a love for tennis. Hadad reports that at tournaments, the two stayed in the same hotel, ate all meals together, hung out before the matches, practiced together, and met each other’s families.

Following their success at Wimbledon, the two planned to team up again at the 2002 U.S. Open. They were awarded a wild card by the tournament and won their first round match. In February, 2003, both were awarded the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award.

Both men hold firm in their convictions that sports transcends politics and religion.

Hadad adds, “Everybody can connect through sports. The religion of the player doesn’t matter.”

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