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Maia 09-04-2005 04:59 PM

Andyoni !!
 
They deserve their own thread, right? :)
They just won their match and are now in the quarters of the US Open :worship:

Here's an article from ATPtennis.com about the doubles yesterday, there's a pic of Andy & Yoni
Article

Maia 09-05-2005 02:06 PM

Re: Andyoni !!
 
Another article

Nimrodg 09-05-2005 07:29 PM

Re: Andyoni !!
 
AndYoni :worship:

Maia :yeah:

Maia 09-06-2005 07:32 PM

Re: Andyoni !!
 
They lost today to Black & Ullyett :sad: but well done on getting to the quarters! :yeah:

cobalt60 09-06-2005 07:52 PM

Re: Andyoni !!
 
Hey thanks for doing this thread! I have been cheering them on elsewhere on a USA thread but this is better! And Andy lost in Mixed doubles too but they did so well!

cobalt60 09-07-2005 11:49 PM

Re: Andyoni !!
 
A very long older article from the Jeruselem Post:
One year ago, the closest Andy Ram got to the action at Wimbledon was what he could see on his TV screen.

Back and knee injuries had kept the 22-year-old tennis player on crutches for three months and off the court all season. As he watched the match with a friend, he asked him, "Do you think Iím going to play tennis again?Ď and joked, íDo you think youíre going to see me at Wimbledon?"

At the same time, Yoni Erlich, then 25, also thought Wimbledon glory was far from his reach. His disappointing 2002 season extended into early 2003 and nearly convinced him to hang up his racquet.

"I was very close to quitting just before Wimbledon. [I thought] Wimbledon might be the last tournament Iíd play,Ď he relates. íInstead it was the oppositeÖ Everything went great. My career changed 180 degrees. Instead of going down, it went straight up."

As it turned out, the longtime friends stunned the tennis world ó and themselves ó when they shot out of nowhere to make it to the Wimbledon semifinals this July.

In a tight, well-battled match, the unseeded Israelis bested the No. 2 seeds 7-6 (8), 7-6 (2), 7-6 (7) before falling to eventual winners Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden and Todd Woodbridge of Australia. Ram went on to compete against, and lose to, tennis legend Martina Navratilova in the mixed doubles final.

The finishes were the best-ever by an Israeli doubles pair and among the very best in Israeli Grand Slam history. It also vaulted the players forward in the international doubles rankings to career highs of 44 for Ram and 53 for Erlich.

Their achievement brought welcome attention to Israel, its tennis program, and, of course, the stars themselves.

"Almost everyone [in Israel] was watching the match. Even people who had never watched in their lives were watching on the TV. I think there was a huge impact in Israel,Ď Erlich says. íLuckily there was nothing going wrong in Israel at that time, and it was a beautiful story to tell. Itís been a long time since some small athletes achieved such a big result."

He continues, "I think people were hungry for something like that."

As were the players, given their recent struggles.

"Wimbledon came big time for me. I needed it," Ram says emphatically.

"During the tournament I think we played our best tennis ever," he says, eyeing Erlich as they sit side-by-side at a coffee shop not far from Ramís Tel Aviv apartment.

"It was amazing,Ď Erlich concurs. íWe struggled in the beginning of the first match but since then we rolled through all of the tournamentÖ It was something that we kind of dreamed of all our life, to do something like that, especially at Wimbledon."

They volley back and forth in their conversation, playing off each other as if they were on the court. They share broad, athletic builds and a slight Spanish inflection in their speech ó Ram came to Israel from Uruguay at the age of five, while Erlichís family immigrated from Argentina when he was one. But they have marked differences as well: Ram has dark features while Erlich is fair; Ram explodes with energy while Erlich is more collected.

Yet both remain humble about their accomplishment, quick to note their surprise at having done so well at the Grand Slam tourney.

NOT EVERYONE, though, is shocked by their results. Shiri Zlotikman has been aware of Ramís talent from an early age. She first met the Jerusalem-raised player during tennis competitions they participated in as teenagers and has followed his career for the seven years theyíve been dating.

His current success, she says, "doesnít seem strange to me."

Slightly more bizarre has been Ramís newfound celebrity.

"Everybody in the street comes up to him and says that he did a great job. Itís great. In one week, everythingís different," she says.

Their coach of two years, Anthony Harris, also affirms his long-held belief in the pairís abilities.

He recalls feeling particularly proud the day that Erlich acknowledged he agreed with Harrisís assessment.

In the midst of their Wimbledon run, the coach received an SMS from Erlich that read: "You were right. We can do it."

"I felt from his message that he had real belief,Ď Harris recounts. íIt created a feeling in me that was really exciting, because I know how important that [confidence] is to success."

Oded Yaacov, who coaches the pair in the Davis Cup competition but otherwise observes them from the sidelines, says that success like theirs can boost the confidence of players throughout the country.

When players start to reach their mid-20s without a breakthrough, they often consider quitting, he says. The Wimbledon showing "brought a lot of belief to all the players that if you keep at it day in and day out, your week will come." The impact of their achievement isnít limited to the tennis communityís players, according to Israel Tennis Association general manager Yoram Baron.

He says the Wimbledon triumph generated interest in tennis and press coverage that have previously been lacking.

"Iím sure that many people heard about their [performance] and watch tennis now. Hopefully more kids will sign up."

At the same time, both Baron and Yaacov point to Israeli tennis successes beyond Ram and Erlichís. Amos Mansdorf and Shlomo Glickstein were strong enough players to push Israel into the top division of the Davis Cup competition, a feat that hasnít been repeated.

Harel Levy (187) and Noam Okun (191) are higher-ranked singles players than Ram or Erlich, while Anna Pistolesi, ranked 20 in this past month, has been Israelís most successful player [see box].

Yaacov reeled off the achievements of Israelís court stars as Ram and Erlich prepared to compete in the Israel League 2003 finals on September 9.

The dynamic duo ended up losing the match. But on the court they displayed the same smooth coordination that powered them to win four Wimbledon rounds.

Chatting between serves as well as pauses on the bench, they bump fists and back slap even after points they lose.

"One of the main things with doubles is communication, and when you have communication, you win tournaments," explains Ram.

THAT COMMUNICATION comes naturally to the pair, who have capitalized on a friendship established years ago and which still results in them doing "everything" together.

"Theyíve played together and trained together since they were kids, which means they know each other and each otherís game," says Harris of the advantage they enjoy over many other doubles teams. He adds that they also complement each other, with Yoni making great returns and Ram providing strong serves.

"We kind of grew up together," says Erlich, explaining that this shared past has given him a good sense of his partnerís strengths and weaknesses.

He wonít comment on Ramís shortcomings, but heís forthright about his friendís good points.

"Heís very positive on the court and heís very energetic. Iím a little more cool, maybe a little more solid. He puts me a little more on fire when I need it."

Indeed, while they sit together talking, Erlich possesses a certain reserve where Ram breaks into frequent wide grins.

When Ram describes Erlich as a good person, Erlichís quick to return the compliment, though the older player jokes, "I wonít tell more because then he gets cocky." Their easy interaction has its roots in the friendship which they solidified as teenagers training together at the Wingate Institute, just outside Netanya, while in their teens. They teamed up for tournaments in 2001, enjoying some limited successes, but disbanded last year due to Ramís injuries.

They only reunited at Wimbledon by accident. Erlich hadnít expected to make the trip to England but got knocked out of another tournament earlier than expected; Andy, meanwhile, hadnít been able to find a partner.

"At the last moment we signed [up] together," Erlich says.

Their winning combination garnered victories at two recent tournaments ó one in Binghamton, NY and one in Istanbul ó following Wimbledon. And they each won the American tournaments they played with different partners this summer.

They also shared the disappointment of getting knocked out of the US Open during the first round with play that Ram acknowledges was less than exemplary.

Erlich admits that handling past poor performances can be difficult for a two-person team, but says they have learned to work through any difficulties.

"I trust him and he trusts me. There are a lot of matches where I didnít play well but he played well and we still won, and the opposite. Thatís the main story. We always need to deal with each other. When one personís upset the other one needs to pump him up and visa-versa," he says, noting itís important to leave any issues they might have on the court.

"Itís like marriage. If you have a bad day at work, you donít put it on your wife."

The relationship is one they hope to strengthen, particularly through an appearance at next summerís Olympic Games. Making the cut is a long shot ó only the top 32 pairs get to compete ó but Ram is confident theyíll be able to build on their Wimbledon triumph and reach Athens.

As he puts it, "With the food comes the appetite."

cobalt60 09-08-2005 12:13 AM

Re: Andyoni !!
 
Lastly: from the Baltimore Jewish Times:

Israel's best ambassadors are personable, passionate and proud of their country. It doesn't hurt if they're world-class tennis players.

Andy Ram, 25, and Jonathan "Yoni" Erlich, 28, close friends since their teen years and doubles partners for the past three years, have been traveling around the world together, entertaining crowds and sharing their love for Israel.

Ram, ranked 24th in the world for mens doubles, and Erlich, ranked 22nd, are the No. 11 seeds in the men's doubles draw of the U.S. Open tennis tournament. Each was entered in the mixed-doubles draw as well.

The past year has been successful but somewhat bittersweet for Ram and Erlich: Representing Israel in the 2004 Olympics in Athens last summer, they advanced to the quarterfinals before losing to Germans Nicolas Kiefer and Rainer Schuettler, who went on to take the silver medal.

In October, Ram and Erlich won the Grand Prix de Tennis de Lyon, in France, and hoped for success in the Australian Open in January. But they lost a heartbreaking third-round match to No. 2 seeds Bob and Mike Bryan, twins from the United States.

In February they won the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Pleased with their fourth career title, Ram and Erlich geared up for May's French Open, but Ram received bad news two days before the tournament -- his 60-year-old father had died of a heart attack.

The duo dropped out of the tournament and returned to Israel, where shiva was observed in Ram's mother's home in Jerusalem.

Ram speaks warmly about his family, who moved from Uruguay to Israel when Andy was 5.

"I still have grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in Uruguay," he said. "I love when they come to Israel to see us."

Ram grew up in Jerusalem and at age 14 was invited to study at the Wingate Institute, Israel's National Center for Physical Education and Sport, near Netanya. Ram stayed at Wingate until age 18, when he entered the Israeli army.

"They treated me and the other athletes like special sportsmen, and we were allowed to play tennis and travel, even during our army service," he said.

Ram enjoys the company of other Israeli players on tour, such as Harel Levy, Noam Okun and Amir Haddad.

"I've never had a problem" on the tour being Jewish or Israeli," Ram said.

Both Ram and Erlich enjoy the reception they receive from Jewish communities around the world. "We always receive a warm welcome -- people are supportive and fly flags of Israel everywhere we go," they said.

The team is a model of good communication: While Ram and Erlich shout on-court commands to each other in Hebrew, they both grew up in bilingual Hebrew-Spanish homes and also are comfortable in English.

Erlich was born in Buenos Aires and moved to Israel when he was 1. He grew up in Haifa and moved to the Wingate Institute at age 15.

In mid-June, Ram and Erlich won the Nottingham Open in England, considered the major warm-up to Wimbledon. They entered Wimbledon seeded 15th, advancing to the third round before losing again to the Bryans.

The pair spent July playing with the St. Louis Aces of the World Team Tennis league. Dani Apted, the team's general manager, praised Erlich as a "fantastic mentor" to a younger team member, adding that he "kept the team level and focused in each of his matches."

Ram "directed his passion and became the drive that motivated the whole team to win," Apted said.

In late July, the Israeli duo finally beat the Bryan twins at the Merecedes-Benz Cup in Los Angeles, before losing in the finals. They also lost in the finals of a Masters Series event in Montreal in August.

Maia 09-08-2005 01:56 PM

Re: Andyoni !!
 
Thanks for the articles! :D

cobalt60 09-08-2005 03:09 PM

Re: Andyoni !!
 
Thanks! I had followed them minimally but talked to them briefly in Montreal and Cinci. Funny in opposition to the article, I found Erlich more outgoing and Ram somewhat reticent :) Must be my warped sense of humor I guess :p
Anyway they were very nice and cordial. I started to watch a lot of doubles in Montreal and Cinci especially them and they have found a place in my heart so to speak :dance:

Maia 09-24-2005 09:37 AM

Re: Andyoni !!
 
DC action today (GO ISRAEL!) good luck Andy & Yoni!!

After Dc, their next tournament is Bangkok :)

Maia 09-24-2005 02:17 PM

Re: Andyoni !!
 
They won in straight sets :yeah: Israel 2 Zimbabwe 1

cobalt60 09-25-2005 05:02 PM

Re: Andyoni !!
 
Israel won the tie!!! Yippee! Good luck in Bankok! I really hope they make it to the Masters Series!

cobalt60 09-30-2005 02:36 PM

Re: Andyoni !!
 
Into the semis in Thailand. Keep it going!

Maia 09-30-2005 03:54 PM

Re: Andyoni !!
 
:woohoo: next match against Simon Aspelin & Todd Perry

cobalt60 10-01-2005 01:21 PM

Re: Andyoni !!
 
Whoo Hoo into the finals of the Thailand Open!!!! They beat A/P 6-5 and 6-2!

It will be the #1 and 2 seeds going at it in the finals. They play Hanley/Paes. Good luck guys! Have a great final!!!!


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