Israeli wheelchair players at SA Open

  • 1-Milner Jack
Wheelchair tennis has become a very popular sport around the world, especially since both the Australian Open and the US Open have included it as part of the competition.
by JACK MILNER | Apr 22, 2015


Like able-bodied tennis, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has set up an international tour and last week the Acsa SA Open was staged at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

Israel has built up quite a decent squad of players and a group of them came to South Africa to contest first the Gauteng Open a week earlier in Benoni on the East Rand and then the SA Open which comprised many of the top players in the world, including world No 1 David Wagner of the US, world No 2 Andy Lapthorne of the UK and World No 3, South Africa’s Lucas Sithole.

The SA Open tournament is a Super Series event on the wheelchair tennis tour and is for men and women combined. The tour also has different divisions depending on the level of disability of the player.

The Israeli team comprised only men and was coached by Nimord Bischler. The players were Amir Levi (men's division), Asi Stokol (men's division) and Itay Erenlib (quad division).

The best performer was Erenlib, who made the quarterfinals of the singles before being bounced out by Sithole.

The Israeli won the opening set 6-4 but then lost the next two 4-6 1-6. Sithole went on to win the tournament, beating Wagner in the final 3-6 6-3 6-3.

Erenlib also managed to reach the semifinals of the quads doubles where he teamed up with Ymanitu Silva of Brazil. However, they lost to second seeds Anthony Cotterill and Andy Lapthorne of Great Britain in a tight match, 5-7 6-4 6-4.

Levi and Stokol both lost in the opening round of the men’s division draw and that put them into the consolation draw.

Levi lost in the semifinals to top seed Rody de Bie of The Netherlands 1-6 5-7, but Stokol actually made the final when his opponent, second seed Ricky Molier of The Netherlands, had to withdraw.

However, the Israeli also found De Bie too good and went down 1-6 4-6.

Nevertheless, the Israeli team did not go home without a trophy as Stokol teamed up with Charlotte Famin of France to capture the mixed doubles. In the final they beat Spaniard Daniel Caverzachi and Emmanuelle Morch of France 6-2 6-3.

During the first week, as it was Pesach, the Israeli team received a visit from Israel’s Ambassador to South Africa Arthur Lenk.

The ambassador brought the Israeli players some Israeli foods and gifts, watched them play and enjoyed lunch with them.



Hebrew tattoo has everyone guessing




A top soccer player had fans scratching their heads during a championship game last Tuesday between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid in the Spanish capital, after he inadvertently revealed a Hebrew tattoo on his back.

The problem was nobody understood what it meant.

The revelation came after the Croatian-born Mario Mandzukic, who plays for Atletico Madrid, was elbowed in the face as he went for the ball during the Uefa Champions League match.

Mandžukić crashed to the ground, where he writhed in agony. As television cameras zoomed in on him, viewers got a peek at a tattoo in what appeared to be Hebrew script, just visible along his lower back.

Puzzled fans took to social media in an effort to decipher the ink. It was quickly identified as Hebrew but the translation remained elusive, until sharp-eyed readers pointed out that the text was written from left to right instead of from right to left.

In addition, the letters themselves were facing the wrong way, giving the slogan the appearance of being in mirror writing, and suggesting that the tattoo artist was either an aspiring Leonardo da Vinci, who wrote mainly in mirror-image cursive, or hopelessly incompetent.

Once the bizarre lettering had been sorted out, it emerged that the tattoo aimed to proclaim “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”, although spelling errors rendered the actual translation closer to the grammatically awkward “Which doesn’t to kill me, makes me stronger”.

Like ink sporting Chinese characters, Hebrew tattoos have gained a reputation for being prone to going awry, and there is even a website, BadHebrew, dedicated to highlighting some of the worst examples.

As for Mandzukic, when he eventually got to his feet he had a bloodied nose and a bruised reputation. The game ended with a goalless draw, probably making his hapless tattoo the most interesting thing about it.




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