shahar peer 298.88.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Israel's Fed Cup team was drawn to host Indonesia in the World Group II playoffs set for July - but the team from the largest Muslim nation in the world is not planing on coming.
On Tuesday, captain Dedi Ya'acov's side learned its fate for the tie scheduled to be a best-of-five event on July 15-16. However what was first a favorable draw in terms of tennis developed later in the day into a political story.
The Indonesian Tennis Federation said it would contact the International Tennis Federation on Wednesday to request that the tie be moved to a neutral site. Indonesia, which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, does not object to facing the Israeli side, but hopes to avoid needing to travel here.
Israel has met Indonesia twice before, winning both ties at neutral sites. In 1974, Israel Tennis Center CEO Janine Strauss made her Fed Cup debut, guiding the team to a 2-1 win in Naples, Italy, and Rakefet Binyamini and Orly Bialistozky teamed for a 3-0 sweep in 1981 in Tokyo.
Israel has not hosted a Fed Cup tie since 1996, when the Europe/Africa Zone Group II tournament took place in Ramat Hasharon.
Israel's squad, led by Shahar Pe'er, Anna Smashnova and Tzipi Obziler, advanced to the playoffs by defeating Serbia-Montenegro in the semifinals last week at the Fed Cup Europe/Africa Zone Group I tournament in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
Israel was not seeded in Tuesday's draw and could have been paired with more formidable sides Switzerland, Slovakia or Canada.
By virtue of Israel's five wins in Plovdiv, the side climbed four spots in the world rankings to 19.
Indonesia, which fell from 11th in the rankings to 16, is led by former junior star Angelique Widjaja. The 22-year-old is in the process of making a comeback after knee surgery forced her to miss the entire 2005 season.
A former junior champ at both Wimbledon and the French Open, Widjaja is currently ranked 622 in the world after reaching 55 in 2003.
Its other singles player is veteran Romana Tedjakusuma (244). Indonesia fell to the playoffs by losing 4-0 to China last week in the first round of World Group II.