Israeli youth tennis players to showcase talent here


(L-R) Israel Tennis and Education Centers team members Majd, Noa, Nir and Christina will play in Tampa March 6.

A diverse group of student athletes from Israel – a Christian Arab, a Muslim Arab, an Ethiopian Jew and a 16-year-old from a desert community – will show off their tennis skills in Tampa next month.

The four are touring Florida with the Israel Tennis and Education Centers (ITEC) Foundation, including a stop at the Sandra Freeman Tennis Complex on Davis Islands on Friday, March 6 beginning at 3 p.m. The exhibition is open to the community.

“Tennis can be the glue that brings together different cultures and religions,” said Noam Yitzchaki from ITEC in a Jewish Press phone interview. “We show the kids that it is possible to play and have fun together.”

In addition to their time on court, the student athletes will share their personal stories about what ITEC means to them.

Noa, 12, came to south Tel-Aviv with her parents from Ghana, West Africa. She has been playing tennis since she was 6 years old and hopes to play Wimbledon one day. Noa appreciates that the tennis center gives her a safe place where she can spend time with friends.

Nir is a 16-year-old student from Beer Sheva, often called the “capital of the desert.” He began playing tennis at age 5. He trains at the Samson Israel Tennis Center in his hometown for hours every day and hopes to become a professional tennis player. His dream is to study and play at a Division 1 school in the U.S.

Christina, 15, fell in love with tennis at 3 years old. She enjoys spending time with friends at the Selma and Irving Ettenberg ITEC in Haifa, where she resides. She goes to the center to train daily.

Majd is a 13-year-old team member who dreams about playing in Grand Slam Tournaments and representing Israel around the world. She is a part of the Coexistence Program, which uses tennis to bridge differences of religion and culture.

“I come from a Muslim Arab family,” said Majd. “Spending hours at the tennis centers helped me gain so many important values. We are all friends and we don’t feel that there is any difference between us. We are all equal here. It’s a warm and loving family. It has helped me shape my thoughts and personality.”

The goal of ITEC is to ensure that every child in Israel is healthy, educated, equal, and equipped to pursue their dreams, without any religious, economic or social barriers. ITEC serves a wide range of children through its social impact programs, including at-risk youths, immigrants from Ethiopia, Russia, and Ukraine, and children with special needs.

“We are thrilled to provide our children the opportunity to travel to the U.S. and serve as youth ambassadors for Israel in communities abroad,” said Jacqueline Glodstein, executive vice president of Global Development. “It is phenomenal to witness how much these children learn through this unique educational experience and meet the wonderful people who support them.”

For more information or to attend the exhibition, go to: www.itecenters.org or contact Yoni Yair, vice president of Development, at (954) 480-6333 or yyair@itecenter.wpengine.com. Although ITEC exhibitions are open to the public, the group adheres to a strict public safety policy requiring advanced registration and valid ID of all attendees.

The tennis complex is located at 59 Columbia Drive on Davis Islands in Tampa.

Original Article