Pe'er named 'Post' Israeli Sports Personality of '07

Tennis star thanks 'Post' readers for their support after winning award ahead of Benayoun and Grant.

peer action 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
peer action 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
After a week of voting, tennis star Shahar Pe'er has been named Jerusalem Post Israeli Sports Personality of the Year 2007 by readers of the newspaper and its Web site, The 20-year-old Pe'er beat off a strong challenge from Liverpool midfielder Yossi Benayoun, who has been in impressive form since moving to the English Premier League soccer club in the summer, and Avraham Grant, who coaches London team Chelsea in the same league. Pe'er received 40 percent of the vote, with Benayoun polling 20% and Grant 15%. More than 900 people registered their choice on-line or via email. Davis Cup tennis player Dudi Sela came in fourth place with 11% followed by basketball coach David Blatt, who led Russia to the EuroBasket title, in fifth on 5%. Pe'er was delighted to find out she had won the award. Speaking from Australia where she is currently warming up for the Australian Open at the Gold Coast tournament, Pe'er spoke of her appreciation of the support from the Post's readers. "I would like to thank all of The Jerusalem Post'sreaders in Israel and around the world for voting for me as the personality of the year in sports," Pe'er said, just hours after defeating American Julie Ditty in the first round of the tournament. "Every time I hear about myself being chosen [for such awards] it makes me motivated to continue and work harder to do better. "Your support is always touching and I feel that this support got me to where I am today." The youngster was mightily impressive in 2007, reaching the quarterfinals of both the Australian and US Opens, the first time she attained such heights in her career. Despite finishing the year ranked number 17 in the world, Pe'er said she hopes to improve even more in 2008. Noting the massive support she has had at tournaments all round the world, she added: "2007 was an amazing year for me with very good results. It was unforgettable not only because of my achievements on the court, but also because of the great and amazing support I got in tournaments around the world from all the fans. I hope 2008 will be an even better year for me and for all The Jerusalem Post readers." The result of the reader poll not only illustrated the massive fan base Pe'er enjoys as she competes in tournaments all round the world, but the popularity of tennis as a truly universal sport. While sports such as soccer, basketball and baseball generally have fans clustered in certain parts of the world, tennis transcends international barriers. However, there was some solace for Grant. As well as celebrating Saturday's late win against Newcastle, the former Israel national team coach was named Coach of the Year in The Jerusalem Post 2007 Sports Awards. Grant has managed to seamlessly transform himself from an anonymous director of football, first at Portsmouth and then at Chelsea, to Jose Mourinho's succesor as Chelsea manager. Since taking over at Stamford Bridge in September, Chelsea has won 15 of his first 22 games in charge, losing only twice. The Betar Jerusalem soccer team, swimmer Guy Barnea and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady were also recognized in the Post's annual Sports Awards, chosen by the Post's sports staff. Betar was named Team of the Year after storming to win the Israeli Premier League title in May. Barnea won the Young Israeli Sports Personality of the Year award for his impressive racing in the pool which clinched a place at next summer's Olympic Games. And Brady's stunning performances in the NFL made him the perfect choice for Foreign Sports Personality of the Year.