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A Summary of the Year 5771 at the ITC

Posted September 28th, 2011

Another year has gone past, really quickly and now is the time for summaries. The Israel Tennis Center ends another busy year for tennis programs and community programs: for children at risk, coexistence, for children with special needs, new immigrants and for kindergartens.

During the course of the year 13,000 children ran on the courts of 14 ITC’s, from Beer Sheva in the South to Kiryat Shmona up North. They won tournaments, raised trophies, collected medals and even represented Israel at tournaments abroad and as members of the Israeli team.

The managers of the Centers were asked to choose one event which left them with a lasting impression for the year 5771 and here are their choices.

ITC – Ramat Hasharon: The closing party for Mica, the Society of Deaf Children

A particularly emotional event took place at the ITC – Ramat Hasharon on Friday 3rd June 2011; a special party to celebrate the end of the activities for the children of the Mica society’s kindergartens (deaf children and educators). This is a charity that provides care, education and rehabilitation for infants and children from all sectors of Israeli society that suffer from impaired hearing.

The activity lasted about two hours, with the participation of 100 children of the society who came with their parents, with translators accompanying them to explain the instructions in sign language. The day started with an opening ceremony, and a distribution of end of year certificates to the children. After that, the children all moved to the courts where the coaches were waiting at different stations: mini tennis, combat tracks and ball games. For about an hour, the children passed between the stations and enjoyed the sporting activities along with their parents. At the end, everyone gathered on Court 15 to participate in Israeli dancing. After receiving popsicles and juice the children all returned home happy and smiling. The staff of the ITC – Ramat Hasharon and more than 20 volunteers contributed to the success of this day. After the success of the activities, two additional kindergartens working with Mica, turned to the ITC – Ramat Hasharon to start a partnership.

The children and parents on court 15

ITC – Jaffa: Children Participate in the Tel Aviv Marathon

On the 8th April 2011, 18 players from the ITC – Jaffa participated in the Tel Aviv Marathon. Close to 19,000 runners took part in the different distances: full marathon (42.195km), half marathon (21.1km), 10km and 4.2km, a hand bicycle course (30km), a children’s course and a rollerblade course (30km).

The “athletics team” of the ITC – Jaffa, together with coaches Oren Midnik and Nadia Golbez, joined the sports atmosphere along the Tel Aviv boardwalk and Jaffa port to run 4.2km. A number of players put down impressive results: Hilel Yitzhak ended in second place, Eliyav Rahamim in fifth place and Moti Radionov finished in sixth place. Manager of the Center, Rakefet Binyamini, ran the half marathon and improved her record from the Jerusalem marathon by 15 minutes by crossing the finish line in two hours and five minutes.

The players before the run

ITC – Tel Aviv: Two Tennis Europe Tournaments in April

TE tournaments returned to Tel Aviv after more than a decade away. Indeed, in April 2011 there were two tournaments played during two consecutive weeks at the ITC – Tel Aviv. The first was in memory of the late Morris Goldsmith, a Jewish American businessman who was a strong supporter of Israel and who passed away in 2005. The second tournament was in honour of Aaron Krickstein, the great Jewish tennis player who reached the number 6 ranking and who was the youngest ever player to win an ATP tournament (in Ramat-Hasharon), a record which he holds to this day.

In the first week Nikolay Batanov of Russia, the tournaments first seed, won the boys signles titles after securing victory against Aleksandre Bakshi of Georgia, who was third seed; the end score was 6:4 6:2. The girls title went to first seed, Anastasia Fedoryshyn of the Ukraine, who beat fellow countrywoman Anna Zhdanova in two sets. The second tournament was won by Israeli Ram Kapach (ITC – Ashkelon) who upset Aleksandre Bakshi, the tournaments second seed, to win the boys singles title 7:6 6:1. The girls title went to first seed and first week’s winner, Anastasia Fedoryshyn of the Ukraine, who beat Israeli third seed Talya Zandberg 7:6 6:4.

All the winners with the Goldsmith Family

Regional ITC – Akko: Two international Tournaments – for Men and Women

The Regional Israel Tennis Center – Akko, which opened about a year ago, hosted two international $10,000 tournaments – one for men and one for women. The tournaments presented a great opportunity for young Israeli players to gain experience and ranking points and for locals to enjoy international tennis.

The first tournament took place from the 16th to 23rd October 2010 in memory of Freddie Krivine, one of the ITC’s six founders. Julia Glushko, the first seed, won the final against Julia Kimmelman, seeded 6th from Germany, 6-2 6-2. From the 27th August to the 3rd September 2011, the Center hosted a men’s tournament sponsored by 013 Netvision IDB Group and the Akko Municipality. German 3rd seed, Stefan Seifert, won the title after beating Ukranian Stanislav Poplavskyy 6-1 5-7 6-2.

Julia Kimmelman and Julia Glushko (left)

ITC – Beer Sheva: The tournament in Memory of Alex Podolsky and a Court Dedication in his Name

The ITC – Beer Sheva, who is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary this year, hosted an international girls and boys tournament in memory of Alex Podolsky, the legendary coach of the Center who passed away in 2006. Hundreds of children from the Center came to see the finals and enjoyed a big happening and the prize giving ceremony, which was attended by the Mayor of the city, Rubik Danilovich.

Daniel Skripnik, from the ITC – Ramat Hasharon, won the title after beating another ITC – Ramat Hasharon player, Igor Smilansky, 6-4 3-6 6-1 in the final. The girls competition was won by Russian Veronika Kudermetova, who beat Israeli Katya Tour 6-4 7-5. The highlight of the event was the dedication ceremony of Court 1 to the memory of Alex Podolsky and the prize ceremony for the 90 children of the Center who participated in a competition in his honor.

Daniel Skripnik during the ceremony

ITC – Ashkelon: A Group of Ethiopian and non-Ethiopian Children Together

In March 2011, the ITC – Ashkelon started a group made up of Ethiopian and non-Ethiopian children who play tennis together three times a week. The children, age 9, joined without any prior knowledge of tennis and are now already at a mini tennis level – they even participate in internal tournaments at the Center.

The children enjoy every second, never skip a practice and managed to achieve good results in the tournaments they entered. Their parents take this project seriously, cooperate very well and good relationships between them has formed. The great progress of the children means that they will be able to advance from the mini tennis program to the 3/4 tennis court program.

Part of the children on the program with the coach Tzahi Abuhazeira

ITC – Yokneam: The Tournament for Members of Kibbutzim and Moshavim Returns

To join in the big party which celebrates the 100th anniversary of Kibbutzim in Israel, Sharon Hauzer, manager of the ITC – Yokneam, decided to organize a tennis tournament for tennis fans in the Kibbutzim and the Mohshavim of Israel. This had always been a tradition at the ITC – Haifa, until seven years ago, and now Hauzer decided to bring it back to life. The tournament took place in October 2010.

The competition was divided into two: during one weekend, the youth played and a week later the adults played. Over 100 people participated from Kibbutzim including Yotvata, Hatzerim, Eilon, Gesher Haziv, Gan Shmuel, Mishmar Ha’emek, Evron, Maoz Haim, Hasolelim, Ein Harod, Dalia, Oshrat, Gilad, Ein Hashofet and Bnei Yehuda. Eight players signed up for the over 60’s tournament and they proved that tennis is a sport for life.

A group picture of all the winners in each category

ITC – Tiberias: First year of the “Embrace” Project

It was the first year that the “Embrace” Project took place at the ITC – Tiberias. The children participating came to the Center twice a week, were taught tennis and took part in many activities including: a visit to Hamat Gader, a March for the liberation of Tiberias in the Swiss forest, planting trees at Tu Bi’shvat, a Lag Ba’omer bonfire and competing in internal tournaments.

The year came to an end with an activity for parents and children together with the team who guided the process. The parents and children started the activity in the clubhouse, where they looked at pictures from the past year, listened to the experiences of the children and watched a movie about the activities in which the children participated. After the movie, the parents joined the professional staff to receive an overview of what was done during the year and which goals were achieved. Parents explained the improvement they see in their children thanks to the program and also told of the improved relationships between them and the children. Later on, everyone went to the tennis court to participate in a joint activity, in which every child got to show off their ability and their parents also joined them. At the end of the day, a ceremony took place where certificates were given and prizes were awarded for a recent internal tournament.

The children during the march to liberate Tiberias

ITC – Ofakim: Mini Tennis Olympic Games

Two Mini Tennis Olympic Games for beginners took place in March and in May at the ITC – Ofakim, with around 50 children from the ages of 6 to 8 participating. The rational behind the event was to organize a tournament for children who are beginners and help them to get rid of the fears and pressures of playing competitive tennis for the first time.

In the first tournament the children were divided into groups and were given group missions to complete and in the second tournament, the children worked in teams of two. The winning team was awarded a trophy which would be passed from child to child until the next event.

The children during the tournament

ITC – Jerusalem: Israeli Championships for Special Olympics

On Thursday 12th May 2011, 44 tennis players from Israel Tennis Centers around the country took part in the Israeli Championships for the Special Olympics. The event was held at the ITC – Jerusalem and was organized for athletes with mental disabilities. Tennis players from centers all across the country came to the competition; these include the ITC’s in Ofakim, Beer Sheva, Jerusalem, Ashkelon, Tel Aviv, Tiberias and Kiryat Shmona. For four of them it was the last tournament before they went out to represent Israel in the Olympic Games for Special Olympics which are held once every four years – this year it was held in Athens, Greece.

Two of the four athletes that played for Israel are Arabs; one is from East Jerusalem and the other from Beit Tzafafa – Muhammad Kunbar and Jafar Tawil both attend the “Elsalam” School for special education in Beit Tzafafa. Their participation marked the first time that Israeli Arabs represent Israel in an international Special Olympics event (Israel has been participating in these events for over 30 years). To top it all off, all of them returned with two medals, one in singles and one in doubles, which brought great pride to the ITC – Jerusalem.

A joint picture of all the players

ITC – Arad: Events for Kindergartens and after School Club Activities

Two parties took place at the end of June 2011 at the ITC – Arad: one for the end of the after school club activities and one to mark the end of the kindergarten activities.

This is the third year the kindergarten project was a success and it took place in five kindergartens. At a happening on the 26th June, the children played at four stations: a course in which they throw a ball in a basket, a task with a parachute, jumping and passing on a track and hitting balls over the net.

The club activities in Arad, sponsored by the Dead Sea Works, took place for the third year with 45 children coming to the ITC from three clubs of three schools, once a week for a two hour activity. During the activity, the children learnt how to play tennis through different methods such as ball games, use of the training wall, jumps and passes. A happening on the 30th June, in which a lot was invested, included sports activities in different stations with the cooperation of the parents. There was also a ceremony which was attended by the Mayor of the city, Tali Ploskov.

The children of the clubs and the parents on the court

ITC – Haifa: Summer Training Camps

In July and in August 2011, the ITC – Haifa organized two training camps, with an all time high number of participants of over 200 children from the ages 4 to 16. The participants enjoyed all the tennis practice, fitness training and ball games. The camps were held over three weeks and aside from tennis, the children also visited the pool, a water park, a zoo and received a lecture on nutrition.

In addition, for the first time ever, the ITC – Haifa organized a tennis camp in cooperation with swimming lessons for young children. The children were taught athletic and tennis development and also learnt how to swim. Over 30 children signed up for the activity which was a great success.

The children during the activity

ITC – Galilee-Sajur: The Center’s Team

Two years ago at the ITC – Galilee-Sajur a group comprising players from different backgrounds was established with Jewish, Druze, Christian and Muslim children all participating. The players all have experience and they trained with coach Benjamin Adam in Karmiel and in the surrounding region. The idea behind this group was to create a competitive environment at the ITC – Galilee-Sajur and to show other beginning players the level which they must aim for.

The boys and girls, from the ages 12 to 17, are all at an advanced level and play national and regional tournaments. They practice four times a week for a total of eight hours in the week. The relationships and friendships that have been created are very impressive and the difference in backgrounds is not noticeable at all – they are all friends on and off the court.

Part of the team at the ITC – Galilee Sajur