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The Israel Tennis Association confirmed Wednesday that a seven-person delegation from Indonesia will arrive in Israel next month for the Fed Cup World Group II playoffs in Ramat Hasharon.
Their arrival represents the first time that a sporting delegation from Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation in the world, will compete in Israel.
At a press conference at Herzliya's Daniel Hotel, ITA heads, captain Oded Jacob and players Shahar Pe'er and Tzipi Obziler gathered to look ahead to the tie - the first Fed Cup home match in a decade.
"When I first heard they were coming, I was in Istanbul," Pe'er said. "It was before a big game, a quarterfinal or semifinal or something like that, and I couldn't think about my next match. I couldn't sleep... I started thinking about who would come [to the tie], how we would would play."
But despite the excitement over the tie, Pe'er, the darling of Israeli tennis after reaching the fourth round of the French Open, is not concerned about choking. "I think the pressure on us will work in our favor."
Jacob said that barring injury, the squad will consist of Pe'er, Obziler, Anna Smashnova and Yevgenia Savransky. He added that the coaching staff may decide to call in a younger player as an additional hitting partner in order to help prepare the next generation to one day step into the big shoes of Obziler and Smashnova.
The tie is set for July 15-16 at Canada Stadium in the tennis center in Ramat Hasharon. The ITA approached the International Tennis Federation to move the tie up one day and play on Friday-Saturday, but was not granted permission.
Jacob also said that despite the players' request to host the tie on clay courts, the clay-court facilities in Israel could not accommodate an event of this size and therefore the tie will be played on the hard courts at Ramat Hasharon.
The ITA indicated it would make every effort to fill the stadium, including reducing ticket prices to NIS 25 for children, soldiers and students and NIS 50 for adults.
CEO Moshe Haviv added that the ITA and Sport5 have come to terms on a deal according to which the cable network will broadcast the tie, as well as the remaining Davis Cup ties this year, the WTA Anda Open tournament in October and the Israel championships in December.
The tie marks the fourth time in six years that Israel is in a playoff for a shot at the World Group.
Originally the Indonesian team was hesitant to come, citing the lack of diplomatic relations between the countries. But after an Indonesian appeal to move the tie to a neutral site was rejected by the ITF, behind-the-scenes efforts were made to host the squad.
"This tie could become a great springboard for relations between the countries," ITA chairman and former Police Insp.-Gen. Assaf Hefetz said. "The Indonesians were worried about their security, but I wasn't... We will make sure that they are absolutely safe."
Ram, Erlich reach Halle quarters
On the courts on Wednesday, Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich, the top seeds at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, escaped a tough challenge from Jaroslav Levinsky of the Czech Republic and Sweden's Robert Lindstedt to reach the quarterfinals.
The Israelis won both sets in tiebreakers, 7-6(9), 7-6(5), in the 73-minute match.
In the quarters, they will face hard-hitting Russian Marat Safin and his Swiss partner, Yves Allegro.
The tournament is one of a handful of grass-court tune-up events before Wimbledon begins later this month.
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