“The Israel Tennis & Education Centers was a real wake-up call for me. It taught me the values of sport and life… that hard work really does pay off.”
Like thousands of other Israeli children, Harel Srugo spent his early years in the calm serenity of a kibbutz, this one being Kibbutz Gazit in the northern part of Israel near Tiberias. He was introduced to the game of tennis at the age of 7 and started training in earnest at the ITEC – Haifa when he was 11. It was here that his first real impact on life was experienced.
“I quickly realized that tennis was way more than a hobby. Being in a kibbutz is not very competitive. Playing at the ITEC introduced me to a more serious way of life, and the lessons I learned there in terms of commitment and hard work were values that I maintain to this day.”
At 15, Harel started training as part of the High Performance Program at the ITEC – Ramat Hasharon. This taught him the importance of time management, since he not only had to excel in school but had to be equally committed to his achievements on the court. Following his military obligation, Harel reconnected with a friend who suggested he pursue his studies and playing time at Old Dominion University in the US. After two years, he transferred to UCLA and its highly competitive tennis program, which he described as an “incredible opportunity” that he made the most of. In fact, Harel played #1 on the team that competed against the best collegiate athletes in the country.
Following graduation, Harel continued to be involved in the LA tennis scene, volunteering to coach two young aspiring stars who now play on top US tennis teams at Duke and Stanford. In the summer of 2010, he had the good fortune of being offered the Assistant Director position at the prestigious John McEnroe Tennis Academy in NYC under ITEC alum Gilad Bloom. He departed for England in 2012 to earn a Master’s in Finance at the Durham University in England and returned briefly in 2013 to the McEnroe Academy. Today, Harel is a successful business executive in the Asset Management Department of a leading New York City real estate firm.
Looking back at all that he has accomplished in his relatively young life, Harel points to his early years at the ITEC in Tiberias and Haifa as key to his success. “The most important values I was taught centered around the incredibly positive environment I found at the ITEC. The coaches were all so committed to my achieving to the best of my abilities. There were also so many great friendships formed while at both centers that I have been fortunate enough to maintain to this day. I look at the Israel Tennis & Education Centers as one big international family, and for that I will be forever grateful.”