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The grass isn't greener here
eva cohen
06/29/2006
The grass isn't greener here, so Israelis make do with what they have.
The grass courts at Wimbledon are a trademark of the English Grand Slam, but cause problems in preparation for countries such as Israel that do not have any grass courts. There are but a few temporary grass courts at the sports complex at Hadar Yosef that are thrown together to allow Israeli players to prepare for the brief grass-court season. Therefore, one might think that Israeli tennis players would be at a disadvantage when competing on grass. But that is not necessarily the case. According to Israel's Davis Cup captain Eyal Ran, because the grass-court season is only a month long, it's not worthwhile for the players to invest too much time on grass. "The grass season is very short and not many other countries play on grass either," said Ran. "It's better to train on clay than the surface used in the Wimbledon season." The lack of practice time hasn't been all bad for Israel's top players. Shahar Pe'er cruised to the second round at Wimbledon on Wednesday with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Ukrainian Juliana Fedak and doubles partners Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich are among the best in the world on grass. The duo's best Grand Slam appearance was at Wimbledon's semifinals three years ago and they have also won back-to-back titles at the grass-court tuneup event in Nottingham. Ran believes that the team probably does their best on grass because that was the surface that they first achieved major success on, so it gave them a lot of confidence. He also said that their style of play compliments the surface. "They play aggressively, have fast serves and come to the net more often than is usually done in doubles," said Eyal. "So they both have a bonus playing on grass." Dudi Sela, Israel's top-ranked men's singles player, who was knocked out in the qualifying rounds for Wimbledon last week, agrees with Ran's analysis. "They both have good serves," said Sela. "And they just have the confidence for grass because they have succeeded on it before." Israeli players' ability to compete on grass is more relevant this year than ever before with the national squad's Davis Cup Europe/Africa Zone I relegation playoff tie against Great Britain set to take place on the grass courts of Eastbourne next month. Ran is not worried about his players being at a disadvantage there either, because leading up to it there will be a tournament in Queen's next week and another one afterward in Newport, Rhode Island. Ran said he feels that these tournaments and the previous month at Wimbledon will be enough. Sela, who is expected to play at the Davis Cup, agrees with Ran. "We will be going a few days early and the tournament at Newport will give us enough practice," said Sela. "A lot of other countries don't have grass. It is only England, the US, and Australia that do, so it's not a big problem." Sela injured himself on Monday during training by falling on his elbow and fracturing it, but he isn't pessimistic about the setback. "We are not too worried about it holding us back," said Sela. "The doctor said it will only be a few days, so I'm sure I will be okay and will be able to play in the Davis Cup." Only time will tell if the fact that the grass courts in England are greener is really a disadvantage for Ran and co.
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