Motti is 16 years old and he plays on the High Performance Program at the ITEC – Jaffa. He is an only child born to a single mother who immigrated to Israel from Russia. Moti’s mother is a music teacher and the only place she could afford to live was in Jaffa D’, one of the toughest neighborhoods in South Tel Aviv. The streets are riddled with crime, drugs and alcohol, and it’s not a safe place for children to hang out after school. Motti’s mother looked for a safe, warm and loving place her son could spend some time in the afternoons, and she found the tennis center, which was a couple of blocks away from their house.
Motti started playing tennis when he was six years old in the regular afternoon program twice a week. But it wasn’t enough. Motti loved the game and he started coming every day. He felt like he had found a home. The coaches quickly saw his potential and his passion for the game, so he joined the High Performance Program.
“The financial burden was very heavy on my mother, who started working more and more hours to support my dream,” Moti said. “I was still a child so I didn’t realize how difficult our situation was. Now, after 10 years, I understand that the tennis center adopted me and never gave up on me. They helped us so much so I could continue playing, subsidizing my training and even giving me scholarships so I could have the right equipment.”
“At the ITEC, I not only learned to play tennis. I received tools for life, belief, discipline, confidence, goal setting, and dealing with failure and success. I am no longer the shy Motti I once was; I am able to speak in front of a crowd, and to be proud. I never give up, even if my challenges are difficult. The tennis center spotted my potential and I will do everything I can to show them that they were right.”