Away from the charm of the clay courts of Roland Garros and a far cry from the lawns of Wimbledon, for the past nine weeks in Israel men and women from 15 countries (including Israel) have been playing intensive and quite often excellent tennis at the ITF Futures tournaments in Herzliya, Ashkelon, Acre and most recently on the Kfar Maccabiah courts in Ramat Gan.The ITF (International Tennis Federation) Futures circuit is played all year round at various sometimes testing venues, in more than 60 countries worldwide, ranging from Australia to Zimbabwe and Zanzibar to Austria.The circuit is designed to give young professionals, and sometimes the not so young but still hopeful players, an opportunity to earn ranking points that will give them a coveted place on the ATP Challenger circuit.With further success, they would then become eligible to join the major circuit known as the ATP (Association of Professional Players) World Tour.Over the past weeks in Israel, there have been some firstclass matches in both the men’s and women’s draw. The overall results include a remarkable stand-out performance by the Israeli No. 2 player Amir Weintraub.Weintraub, due to a serious thigh injury, had been unable to play tennis for nine months from June 2014. Once the injury problem had been resolved, Weintraub chose to make his return to tennis on the Futures Tour in Israel and, during the last two months, he has created a most impressive record not only for the circuit in Israel but also for all ITF Future tournaments, having played six of the nine tournaments and becoming the champion on four occasions.This record includes an impressive victory this past Saturday over Frenchman Sebastian Bolz, the No. 1 seed to whom Weintraub had lost in the previous week’s final. Under the protected ranking system, Weintraub, who is currently at No. 490 in the world, is eligible to play the qualifiers at Wimbledon this week in London. Mention should also be made of Bar Botzer (No. 717 in the world), a rising star who in the absence of Weintraub, was thrown into the deep end to play in the Davis Cup tie last year in Florida against Argentina.The 21-year-old was unlucky to draw Weintraub in either the quarters or the semis in four of the recent Futures tournaments.Other players to watch include 18-year-old Eden Leshem (No. 783), who won the tournament in Acre last month, and 16-year-old left-hander Yankel Zemel, who is likely to be a real contender in the next round of the ITF Futures in Israel, scheduled to start on August 22.On the women’s side, the outstanding Israeli so far this year is Deniz Khazaniuk (No. 324). The 20-year-old won three of five tournaments, losing in the final in the other two.