Tennis: USA tipped to triumph at Jerusalem Tennis Center

The Jerusalem Tennis Center was a hive of activity on Tuesday as the first round of the men's open tennis competition began in earnest. With up to 12 courts in action at any one time, a family atmosphere filled the sidelines of the courts. Supporters flitted and flurried from one court to another. Samantha Cohen, a participant for Team Great Britain, summed up the general mood. "This is much more than just a sports experience. Everyone is here both as athletes to compete and as a part of one big Jewish family," she said, "Each participant competes as a part of the Jewish world and in representation of his own Jewish community." Most players appeared to share this sentiment, but some suggested that the balance of the unusual dynamic at the Maccabiah Games, involving a desire to socialise as well as compete, had not been struck in the right way. Two Scottish players Adam Glekin and Ron Liebkind were somewhat disgruntled having attended two big parties on Sunday and Monday nights including the Opening Ceremony late last night. Liebkind explained, "It's good to socialize but not when we're worried about being tired for a big match the next day." However, Patrick Pomer of Team Germany countered, "It is this special atmosphere that drives me back to the Maccabiah Games every four years." Jon Epstein of Team USA claimed the unique atmosphere does not dampen the seriousness of the competition. While players are happy to socialise, the standard of performance remains high with many countries fielding professional players. Epstein said "Everyone here is like family. The Maccabiah is not like usual competitions where everyone is at each others throat. But, once we get on the court, it's down to business and each man plays to win." While most were weary of identifying individuals they think likely to win the tournament, several tipped Israel and the USA as having the strongest teams and being the favorites. Jessica Anner, the only Swiss player in the open tennis competition said: "It is difficult to tell who will win but the Israeli team have an obvious advantage, this being their home soil, and the ability to field professional players."