Julia Glushko

Original Article in The Jerusalem Post:

For Julia Glushko, Tuesday was a day of firsts on Court 6 at the US Open as the Israeli came back to beat Monica Niculescu 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 in first-round action.

It was the first truly hot day of the tournament; it was the first day using the Hawkeye electronic replay system where umpire’s calls may be challenged, the first match for Israel’s Glushko where on-court coaching is not permitted (it is allowed in the qualifying tournament but not in the main draw); the first day where some members of the crowd were loudly cheering for her tricky, forehand slicing Romanian opponent, Niculescu; and it was the first day when Glushko appeared in danger of defaulting mid-match due to an injury.

But the new-and-improved Glushko is adaptable and she is a fighter and was determined to play to the bitter end.

Glushko, ranked No. 162, took on Niculescu, currently No. 62 in the world, though Niculescu once reached a career high of No. 28 in singles in 2012, spent significant time in the top 50, has reached a high of No. 11 in doubles and played in the Wimbledon doubles finals in 2017.

Niculescu’s unconventional style of play, consisting of an extreme grip, a topspin backhand and an unpredictable forehand slice is different than nearly every player on tour and takes some time for opponents to learn and master. And her first serve percentage – 92 percent in the first set to Glushko’s 54% – is one of the highest in tennis.

Glushko quickly learned Niculescu’s style, often hitting deep to her backhand to avoid her deadly slice forehands. Glushko also attacked the net more often than usual. Neither player held serve until Niculescu held in game 5, broke Glushko and held again to go up 5-2. Glushko managed one more game before being closed out 6-3.

Glushko came out fighting in the second set and appeared on course for a major turnaround. Glushko served and won the first four games to go up 4-0. Then Glushko had what appeared to be a freak, nearly match-ending injury. She collided with the net post with her left knee and came crashing to the ground. She remained on her back, audibly crying, with her left knee up.

A compassionate, quick thinking Niculescu was the first responder, bringing ice and kind words to her opponent as Glushko awaited more proper medical attention.

To the crowd’s astonishment, Glushko returned to action following a medical time out, her left knee wrapped extensively.

While Glushko favored the leg slightly, she returned to action at her usual high level of play. She gave up two games before holding serve to go up 5-2. It was Niculescu’s turn to go on the offensive, as she battled back to 5-5 before Glushko mustered enough strength to close out the 69-minute set 7-5.

Both players got a fresh start with a required 10-minute break for changing outfits and a bathroom break. Glushko abandoned her tennis whites for a black shirt and white skirt, though the 28-year-old Israeli began the third and decisive set down 2-0.

Aggressive play, careful shot placement and long rallies brought the set to 4-4.

Glushko inched ahead to go up 5-4. The crowd, evenly split between pro-Israel Glushko supporters and pro-Romania Niculescu supporters nervously awaited the outcome of game 10. Glushko, on her back injured and wailing just one set earlier, closed out the 55 minute set and fell to the ground – this time with tears of joy.

Coach Keren Shlomo acknowledged that Niculescu was an especially tough opponent due to her tricky slices.

“Julia played very well first set, she hung in there, and was very aggressive – and she pulled it off,” said Shlomo, who admitted feeling nervous when Glushko fell to the ground. “She pulled through in her mind and heart and did it well. “ By winning the two hour, 38 minute first-round match, Glushko moves on to the second round and is guaranteed to receive $93,000. If she beats No. 20 seed Naomi Osaka of Japan to advance to the third round, she earn $156,000. The US Open remains the richest purse in tennis with total compensation of $53 million.

The male and female singles champions each earn $3,800,000.

In other action, former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki cruised past error-prone Samantha Stosur 6-3, 6-2 to reach the second round in Flushing Meadows.

The Dane, who is the highest seed left in the draw after top seed Simona Halep fell in the first round on Monday, needed less than 90 minutes to get past the Australian, who committed 34 unforced errors and eight double faults.

The quick and comfortable win was a relief for the 28-year-old Wozniacki, who was able to get out of the blistering New York heat in relatively short order and save energy for her second-round match against Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko.

Also, Jelena Ostapenko sweated out a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 win over German Andrea Petkovic to reach the second round as the thermometer pushed towards 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius).

Jewish-American men’s No. 139 Noah Rubin was beaten by Russian Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(3) in their first-round duel.

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Original Article in The Times Of Israel:

Despite a decade age gap, Julia and Lina Glushko are inseparable — on and off the court

When Julia Glushko began playing on the pro tennis tour in 2004, her sister Lina was a little girl of four. Fourteen years later, Lina is following in Julia’s footsteps — no mean feat, considering the trail her older sister is blazing.

On July 29, the elder Glushko won the $60,000 women’s singles title at the prestigious International Tennis Federation tournament in Granby, Canada. She upset top-seeded Arina Rodionova of Australia for the win.

Julia is currently ranked 196 in the world; Lina is 838.

The sisters recently added “doubles partners” to their impressive resumes, joining an elite club of professional tennis-playing siblings which includes the Bryan brothers, the Williams sisters, the McEnroe brothers and more.

At the April 2018 Fed Cup women’s tennis tournament in Athens, Greece, Israel’s team captain Tzipi Obziler and coach Sandra Wasserman decided to pair up the Glushko sisters in a doubles match.

“It was more than natural to let them play together,” said Obziler. “The combination of Julia, the experienced sister, together with Lina, who got her first chance to play matches in the Fed Cup, brought a very good high level doubles team,” said Obziler.

Wasserman agrees. “During practice sessions in the days before the competition, we saw that they were very motivated to play together. They played well and had good communication, so we gave it a chance,” she said.

The Glushko sisters became accustomed to each other on court during an intense four days of matches versus Norway, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Luxembourg and Denmark. After winning the first three deciding tie matches, they lost the semifinal 6-3, 6-4 to Emile Francati and Maria Jespersen of Denmark.

“The Danish girls were better the last day,” said Wasserman, their coach.

One love

Lina, who spoke with The Times of Israel by phone following her first week of basic training in the Israel Defense Forces, remembers the many years Julia — her “best friend” — was constantly on the road.

“I was a little girl, and she was in her 20s,” she said. “I don’t feel like she is 10 years older — we are more like twins. In the last two years or so, we talk 24/7 and we are very connected.”

When they’re in Israel, they practice together. “Now, I am no longer a little girl who doesn’t understand what is going on on the court,” Lina said.

Lina recently graduated from Ironi Gimel high school in Modiin, where she excelled in English (“It was really easy for me!”), her third language.

The Glushkos moved to Israel from the Ukraine in 1999, one year before Lina was born, and speak Russian at home. They are a true tennis family with both parents and 25-year-old brother, Alex, working as tennis coaches.

Alex has served as Lina’s coach for the past two years, taking over for their father, who had previously served the role.

“One match, my father wasn’t able to come, so Alex came instead. He made me feel so relaxed and good on court. I made it through to the finals, and we have been working together since then,” said Lina. “My dad was happy that I found my place with my brother.”

On the court

According to Lina, the Fed Cup pairing was not their actual debut as a doubles team.

“We played doubles for the first time in 2015 in Israel’s nationals,” she said, admitting that she “didn’t like to play doubles before.”

After that tournament, the Glushko sisters continued testing the waters as a doubles team.

“We played for fun in a tournament to see how it would go — we won first place. Then, we played in a [higher level] 15K tournament,” Lina said.

Representing Israel at the Fed Cup was memorable, though Lina didn’t learn she would be playing until 30 minutes before the Norway match.

“I was so nervous. My hand and racket were shaking. There was so much pressure. But I got used to it. I was so excited — to play with Israel on the back of my t-shirt and with my sister on court. The energy was so good. We played so good together,” she said.

Sibling doubles teams with Jewish roots include Brian and Larry Gottfried — and there are probably others, according to Sandra Harwitt, sportswriter and author of “The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All Time.”

“At just 18, Lina Glushko has the benefit of following in her big sister Julia’s sneakers onto the professional tennis scene. Being 10 years older, Julia has a great deal of tour insider information that can help Lina as she’s really just starting her journey in the game. Undoubtedly, this shared sister experience will make the Glushkos feel like a part of a special club in the game,” notes Harwitt.

Looking forward

Fed Cup captain Obziler believes “Lina has great potential,” noting Julia’s recent success on tour.

“Julia is in a great run in the last few months, and the sky is the limit for her,” Obziler said.

Julia recently began working with a new coach, former Israeli tennis player Amir Haddad. She has consistently advanced to the late rounds of recent tournaments in Asia and North America and has won tournaments in Singapore and Thailand.

In a phone interview from a tournament in Gatineau, Canada, Julia told The Times of Israel that the last year was “tough,” with “a lot going on.”

She took three months off, spent some time in Israel “to reflect on things” and changed her coaching staff. She is now “back on track” with her new coach and fitness trainer and feels more self-confident.

“There is lots of positive energy around me, and people who believe in me,” Julia said. “Of course, I train very hard, day in and day out. And I am enjoying my time on court.”

Based on Haddad’s advice, Julia is focusing on smaller tournaments and playing many matches. “I have a nice North American summer ahead of me. I am really excited,” she said.

As a sports mitztayenet (elite athlete) in the IDF, Lina will serve for the next two years with adequate time for tennis training. Her near-term goal is ambitious – finishing the year in the top 500.

And in the not-so-distant future?

“Of course, like everyone, my goal is to win a [Grand] Slam,” Lina said. “And to be #1 in world, kind of obviously.”

Filed under: Times of Israel (Source: https://www.timesofisrael.com)
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FLUSHING, New York – A handful of Israeli players fought for the chance to qualify for the prestigious U.S Open Grand Slam tennis tournament, which began plan on August 26 and will wrap up on Sept. 9. The U.S. Open is the world’s highest attending sporting event, with more than 700,000 fans expected to attend.

Dudi Sela, ranked 76 in the world and a member of Israel’s Davis Cup team, automatically qualified for the main draw of the tournament. In the week leading up to the Open, Sela participated in an Israel Tennis Center clinic in Manhattan, playfully rallyng with New York Junior Tennis League tennis students, as well as with nine-year-old Israeli hopeful Neria Yona. Sela arrived a week early to the Open to practice with his coach and other main draw players, and to watch countryman Amir Weintraub’s third round qualifying match. Sela won two Challenger tournaments this summer and has acclimated to his new Wilson Blade tennis racket; he switched rackets several months ago and reports, “I had a tough time getting adjusted to my new racket.”

On opening day, Sela took on Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia in a nail-biting match. Sela was down 4-1 in the first set, but battled back to take it 7-6. He then won the second set 6-3, but lost next two sets 6-7 and 5-7. With the men tied at two sets each – and with his countrymen and Open doubles players Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich in the stands – Sela won the fifth set 6-4 for the match. Exhausted, he fell to the ground, then stood up and proceeded to pose with every single fan seeking a photo and/or an autograph.

Julia Glushko won her first round match .

Julia Glushko, who played in last year’s U.S. Open and is currently ranked 128, battled her way through three matches in the qualifiers to earn a spot on the main draw.  She won her first match on August 27 against 20th seed Nadia Petrova of Russia. While Glushko needed three qualifying round wins to make the main draw, coach Liran Kling, in an interview with the Ledger following her first round qualifiers match, noted proudly, “Now, people expect Julia to qualify [for the main draw of major tournaments]; it is not like last year when she was a surprise.”

Weintraub, ranked 188 and also a member of the Davis Cup team, spent three weeks in New England this summer playing for the Boston Lobsters World Team Tennis team. He won two matches in the qualifying tournament, which took place the week before the Open, but in the third round match, a 6-4, 6-2 loss to Argentinean Maximo Gonzalez prevented him from making the main draw.

Shahar Peer, ranked 79 and coming off her first tournament win in four years with a victory over 19-year-old Saisai Zheng of China at the Caoxijiu Suzhou Ladies Open, was the number one seed in the qualifiers. Peer, whose up and down career has taken her as high as number 11 in the world, suffered a disappointing 6-4, 7-6 defeat in the first round of the qualifiers to Russian Ksenia Pervak.

Also getting ready for their first-round matches, as the Ledger went to press, were doubles partners Ram and Erlich, as well as Shahar Peer, who was scheduled to play womens doubles. One Israeli junior, Or Ram-Harel, may attempt to qualify for the juniors main draw.

Once again this year, kosher tennis fans will be able to feast at the open, thanks to New Jersey resident Jonathan Katz, owner and operator of Kosher Sports, and his staff, who will be operating a cart outside of court 12.

The Kosher Grill cart at the US Open is a popular food stop for fans.

“This is our tenth U.S. Open,” Katz told the Ledger. Among the items diners will find on his cart: chipotle chicken wrap, crispy chicken wrap, Italian sausage with peppers and onions, sliced steak sandwich, knishes, franks, and overstuffed pastrami sandwiches. All meats are Glatt kosher and all breads are Pas Yisrael; the cart is under supervision of the Star-K and will be open each day of the Open, except Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah.

Katz was not particularly concerned about loss of business due to the Jewish holidays.  “We’ve had Rosh Hashanah fall during the US Open before. He says, “The main factor affecting sales is the weather!”  The cart closes at 4 pm on Fridays.  Katz concludes, “We are looking forward to another successful US Open!”

(Source: http://www.jewishledger.com)

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Despite a first-round loss at the US Open, up-and-comer Julia Glushko says she’s proud to represent her adopted country – and looks forward to better results in the future.

For many of the women in the main draw of the US Open, the path to the two-week tournament was straightforward. For Julia Glushko, an Israeli ranked 160th in the world, the road to her first-ever Grand Slam started many months ago — and ended triumphantly last week, with victories in three tough qualifying matches.

Once at the Open, the 22-year-old’s experience proved a bit of an anticlimax — the Ukrainian-born player put up a tough fight Monday, but lost 7-5, 6-2 in her first-round match against the No. 25 seed, Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium.

Despite the disappointing result, Glushko views her participation as a reason for celebration, capping off an extraordinary year of growth for the Modiin resident. In December, Julia (pronounced “Yulia”) won the Israeli national title by defeating Shahar Pe’er, ending the latter’s five-year reign as champion. The victory kicked off a 2012 of tournaments around the world, including the biggest singles title of Glushko’s career: a July win at an International Tennis Federation tournament in Louisville, Ky.

I pay for my travel, mostly from my prize money.  This time, I raised enough money for my coach, Liran Kling, to come.”

Glushko’s US Open appearance was scheduled as the third match of the day, but due to a 2½ -hour rain delay, she didn’t set foot on the court until 7 p.m., when spectators were arriving for a night session featuring Kim Clijsters, Roger Federer and a music performance by “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks.

Wearing tennis whites and a bandage on her left knee, Glushko hit strongly off both her forehand and backhand. Even with her relatively low ranking, members of the crowd clearly knew who she was, chanting words of encouragement — “yallah” (let’s go) and “kadima” (come on) — familiar to any Israeli.

“I am so thankful that people came out—there were a lot of Jewish and Israeli people cheering for me,” said Glushko, who’s fluent in Hebrew, Russian and English.

Despite her loss, Glushko wasn’t disappointed. “It was a tough draw, but I think I did pretty well,” she reflected. “I was ready to play, [and] can learn a lot for the next time.”

Beyond her first Grand Slam experience — following a failed January attempt to qualify for the Australian Open — Glushko’s trip to New York also meant a chance to reunite with her former doubles partner, the Israeli-Arab player Nadine Fahoum. Now a development associate in New York for the Israel Tennis Center, Fahoum, who recently wrapped up her college career at Duke University, sees a promising future for her old  partner.

“Qualifying for the US Open main draw is the first big step to becoming one of the top players in the world,” Fahoum said. “I wish her much success.”

But while Glushko, who ranked as high as No. 10 in the world as a junior, appears to be on her way, challenges lie ahead — particularly financial ones.

Following her match, the 5-foot-7 player spoke with the Times of Israel. An condensed excerpt appears below.

What is it like representing Israel and Jewish people around the world?

It is probably one of the most special things. There are not many athletes from Israel. I am thankful to be able to represent Israel at the US Open.  For the women, it is only me and Shahar in the main draw.

Do you think Israel can produce more top players? What are some of the challenges facing Israel?

There are a lot of Israel Tennis Centers, and a lot of people who play, but it is hard because everyone goes to the army at age 18.  Also, tennis is an expensive sport. The tennis centers work hard to raise money, but it is expensive — traveling overseas, a coach, etc. I pay for my travel, mostly from my prize money.  This time, I raised enough money for my coach, Liran Kling, to come.

There are ups and downs to playing tennis. You are away all the time. It is hard on your body —  I have pain in my knees all the time. It is a hard life, but I love it. I feel lucky. I try not to think about [match results] or money — I just think about working hard and keeping healthy.

“The country gives so much to me, so whatever I can give back, I want to give back.”

What was your experience growing up?  How did you get into tennis?

I was born in the Ukraine and moved to Israel when I was 8. I feel so Israeli! I am happy [my parents] moved, because life in Israel is so much better. We lived in Jerusalem for three years, in [the Katamon neighborhood], near the tennis center, where both of my parents are teachers. I remember so clearly the first time I went to the Israel Tennis Center: It was at night, the lights were on and they let me play — and they coached me –for free. We moved again, to Ramat Hasharon, so I could play tennis there.  I was home-schooled for the last few years of high school, then went to the army.

Can you describe your army service?

I served for more than two years.  I was a sports mitstayen [an elite athlete allowed to continue her career as she completed her army service].  I did three weeks of basic training where I stayed on the base, learned how to shoot a gun and slept in a room with nine other girls. After that, I was able to come to my base whenever I was [not playing tennis]. Serving in the army is important to me: It is one of the basic things of the country — it is special. The country gives so much to me, so whatever I can give back, I want to give back.

(Source: http://www.timesofisrael.com)

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