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Old 10-10-2005, 02:10 AM   #20
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Default Re: Andyoni !!

Another article about what they did after USO. Some repetition here:

Israeli doubles tennis players Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram demonstrated why they’re among the top 10 doubles partners in the world when they bested Daniel Nestor and Paul Beck 6-5 in an exhibition match in support of Israel Children’s Centers.

The exhibition game at York Racquets Tennis Club was organized by Beck, York Racquets’ tennis pro; board member David Granovsky (the writer’s husband); and club member Kevin Green, president of the Canada-Israel Children’s Centres.

The Israelis’ big serves and tough returns proved too much for Nestor and Beck. After the entertaining match, Erlich and Ram hit some balls with the children in attendance, clearly enjoying themselves.

Currently ranked 10th in the world, the Israelis came to Toronto from the U.S. Open, where they reached the quarterfinals before succumbing to Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett of Zimbabwe, 6-4, 6-2. Unfortunately, Erlich had contracted the flu the night before the match and his play was affected.

Ram reached the semi-finals at the Open with mixed doubles partner Dinara Safina of Russia, the younger sister of top 10 singles player Marat Safin. After playing in Toronto, Erlich and Ram returned to Israel for a few weeks before competing at the Davis Cup in Zimbabwe later this month.

“It is a great honour to represent Israel at the Davis Cup,” Ram said. “We want [the Israeli team] to stay in the top group. We are playing great at the moment. Hopefully the whole team will play well. We have good potential.”

Erlich and Ram, both émigrés to Israel from South America, began their tennis careers as youngsters at the Israel Children’s Centers. The centres are “the best thing that happened to us,” said Ram.

Erlich and Ram, who coach themselves, often return to the Israel Children’s Center at Ramat Hasharon to train and play with the kids. Growing up, Ram idolized Israeli tennis great Amos Mansdorf.

“We want to be top players and play our best. We hope that young kids will want to play like us one day,” said Erlich.

Erlich, 28, and Ram, 25, became good friends as teenagers playing tennis at the Wingate Institute near Tel Aviv.

In 2001, they decided to play together and found they connected well on the court. After winning several tournaments as a team, Ram was sidelined by injuries in 2002 and unable to play for the entire year. Back and knee surgery left him on crutches for three months struggling to walk, followed by a year-long recovery process.

Erlich and Ram reunited in June 2003 and burst onto the international tennis scene a month later at Wimbledon. On a whim, the pair decided to play the qualifying rounds and found themselves in the semifinals against defending doubles champions Jonas Bjorkman and Todd Woodbridge.

Though Erlich and Ram have yet to win a Grand Slam event, they have won major tournaments in Lyon and Rotterdam and they reached the finals at the Rogers Cup in Montreal and the Mercedes Benz Cup in Los Angeles earlier this summer.

Erlich and Ram are very aware of their role as representatives of Israel on the international stage.

“We are proud to be Israeli, [to be] Jewish. As Israelis we try to be the best ambassador that we can for the country. [We] try not to get political but focus on the bigger picture and talk about the people and the country,” Erlich said.

“We have never had difficulty because we are Israeli or Jewish. Everyone respects us on tour,” added Ram.

Erlich and Ram complement each other well both on and off the court. Erlich is more serious and reflective, while Ram is fun-loving and gregarious. Erlich’s sharp sense of humour brings out Ram’s infectious smile.

When asked why they play well together, Erlich explained that they have “great chemistry, [that is] very important for a doubles team to make it. It’s not easy to be together 24 hours a day, like in a marriage.”

“We were good friends before, outside of the court,” Ram added. “We can do everything well. When we’re on, we can beat every team in the world today. We are working on keeping our game consistent.”

Their biggest weapon in a match? “Andy’s smile,” Erlich joked.
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