Sports short: Ekshibarova, Sela capture national tennis titles

The 28-year-old Ekshibarova, who clinched her first national title, received Israeli citizenship in 2016 and will be able to represent the blue-and-white in Fed Cup action from next year.

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December 23, 2017 22:59
1 minute read.
Picture of men’s and women’s Israel tennis champions Dudi Sela and Vlada Ekshibarova.

Picture of men’s and women’s Israel tennis champions Dudi Sela and Vlada Ekshibarova.. (photo credit: ISRAEL TENNIS ASSOCIATION)

Deniz Khazaniuk relinquished her national title to Vlada Ekshibarova in unsporting fashion in the final of the Israel tennis championships on Friday, while Dudi Sela continued his dominance with a fifth consecutive triumph in the men’s tournament in Ra’anana.

Khazaniuk, Israel’s top ranked women’s player at No. 264 in the world, was targeting her second straight local title after cruising into the final. She struggled with a thigh injury throughout the final, but played for over two hours before inexplicably choosing to retire on match-point for Ekshibarova (412), who was leading 7-6 (5), 5-4 and 40-15 when her opponent denied her the chance to complete a victory she deserved.

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The 28-year-old Ekshibarova, who clinched her first national title, received Israeli citizenship in 2016 and will be able to represent the blue-and-white in Fed Cup action from next year.

While Ekshibarova played for the Uzbekistan national team in the past and players aren’t allowed to represent two different countries, the International Tennis Federation gave her special permission to play for Israel as her appearances for Uzbekistan came prior to 2015, when the regulation barring players from representing two countries was passed.

“This win really means a lot to me. This is my new country,” said Ekshibarova.

Sela, ranked No. 67 in the world, easily overcame first-time finalist Igor Smilansky (470) 6-1, 6-1 to pick up his eighth career national title, moving to within one title of the record held by Shlomo Glickstein and Yehoshua Shalem.


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