U.S Open

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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NEW HAVEN — For two Jewish tennis players, New Haven is a great place to stop by on the road to the U.S. Open. American Jesse Levine, the 106th ranked mens player in the world, and Israeli Dudi Sela, ranked 75, spent last week at the Pilot Pen Tennis Tournament at Yales Connecticut Tennis Center in New haven, before heading off to New York to take their place in the main mens draw in the U.S. Open, which kicked off on Aug. 25.

Levine, 20, was born in Ottawa, Canada and moved with his family to Boca Raton, Fla. when he was thirteen, training at the Chris Evert Tennis Academy and at the Bollettieri Academy. The 5 9 Levine attended the Hillel Academy, a Jewish day school in Canada. He keeps a kosher home, often wears a Magen David around his neck. His successful juniors career included winning the Wimbledon doubles championship in 2005, and reaching the quarterfinals in singles that same year. Levine briefly attended the University of Florida in 2007, where he was 24-1, but withdrew in August 2007 to turn professional.He moved up in the rankings from 483 a year ago, to his current rank of 106. This year, he advanced to the second round at both Wimbledon and the Australian Open, and he won a Challenger event at Bradenton, Fla.

Levine was lucky in New Haven. He did not initially secure a spot in the main mens draw; Levine, playing sick in the qualifying rounds, was ousted in the second round of the qualifiers. Once Juan Martin Del Porto withdrew from the tournament, Levine was given a lucky loser spot, which entitled him to a spot in the main draw and a bye in the opening round. He went on to win his second round match against Spains Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-0, 6-3. Levines luck continued in the third round when Steve Darcis of Belgium withdrew due to back problems. He advanced to the quarter finals against American Mardy Fish, number 35 in the world. While Levine was defeated 6-3, 7-6, he was delighted to make it to his first quarterfinals of a major tournament. Jesse is a good young junior with a bright future, noted Fish.

Levine has enjoyed his involvement with Israeli players and members of various Jewish communities while on the professional tour.I have a lot of contact with the Israeli players, like Ram, Erlich, Sela and Levy. They sometimes ask me when I will play for Israel in the Davis Cup, he said.

He also appreciates the Jewish fans who cheer for him. At the tournament in Washington last week, they cheered and said things like, Come on, man, your opponent hasnt even had his bar mitzvah yet!

Israelis Moving Up
While Israeli Noam Okun lost in the qualifying rounds and did not make it in to the Pilot Pen main draw, Israeli Dudi Sela, won his first round match against American Donald Young, 6-4, 6-2. Sela lost in the second round to hard hitting left hander, Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.

Sela, the first Israeli man in seven years to break in to the top 100, is proud to represent Israel in tournaments around the world. And he has enjoyed the support he receives from Jewish communities around the world. It is always very good to see Jews supporting me. I won a recent tournament in Vancouver because the Jewish community came out to support me! he said. Sela, and fellow Israelis Andy Ram, Yoni Erlich, and 24th-seededShahar Peer will play in the upcoming U.S. Open.

Though upset that he was not invited to play for Israel in the Olympics, Sela is particularly proud of his two recent matches in the David Cup which each lasted more than five hours and resulted in victories against Chile.

It was a very good experience for me, and for my career – hey were my biggest wins so far, and they gave me a big push he said.

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