“The Israel Tennis & Education Centers taught me to be a human being… and a
pretty fair tennis player, too.”
Such self-effacing recollections are what has endeared Grand Slam
Champion and ITEC alum Yoni Erlich to the world. Not only is he and
doubles partner Andy Ram one of the most celebrated sports stars in
Israeli history, but through it all his mensch-like qualities
continue to be a true inspiration to everyone he meets, especially
the children of the Israel Tennis & Education Centers where he got his start.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Yoni moved with his family to Haifa
at the tender age of one. He was introduced to tennis two years later
at a playground in Haifa and within six months his parents brought
him to the ITEC – Haifa. He played his first tournament when he was
just seven years old and continued to hone his skills on the court
until the age of 15 when he left for more training at the prestigious
Wingate Institute, where he met his future doubles partner Andy Ram.
“I remember the Haifa community being very supportive of the ITEC
because it was the one place children could learn life skills that
far exceeded anything we could achieve on the tennis court. Values
like discipline, following your dreams, having goals and pursuing
them and always striving to be the best were all things I was taught
at the ITEC.”
After completing his military obligation, Yoni returned to the ITEC,
this time in the High Performance Program at the ITEC – Ramat
Hasharon. Four years later, in 2003, Yoni and Andy burst onto the
world scene when they reached the semifinals at Wimbeldon, defeating
along the way the number 2 seeded doubles team of Mark Knowles and
Daniel Nestor in straight sets.
Later that year they won their first doubles title on the ATP tour by
capturing the Thailand Open, and went on to win the Grand Prix de Lyon.
But their real claim to fame would come five years later, in 2008,
when the dynamic duo captured the Australian Open tennis title. They
became the first doubles tennis team from Israel to ever win a Grand
Slam tennis title!
Yoni has continued to excel on the tennis courts, and is still
actively competing and winning as one of Israel’s most successful
And he attributes much of that success to the experiences and
teachings of the ITEC. That’s why he continually gives back to the ITEC
by helping the children whenever he visits the center. “I remember as
a kid how special I felt being part of the Israel Tennis & Education Centers
program. And that feeling is what I try to pass on to the young
people there whenever I come back to the center. I remember how
motivating it was to be around stars like Amos Mansdorf, and I think
I can provide that same kind of inspiration to the children I meet
and train at the ITEC.
“The ITEC means the world to me and I want these children to have the
same opportunity to achieve, not just as tennis players, but as human
beings. I know the Israel Tennis & Education Centers is the place that makes that