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August 07, 1992 - Image 47

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-08-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Am o s

Amos Mansdorf needs no
introduction. He is simply the
best tennis player in Israeli


Special to The Jewish News

! n 1977, tenths great Jim-
my Connors played an ex-
hibition at the Israel
Tennis Center in Tel Aviv.
Among the players he hit
with was 12-year-old Amos
Mansdorf. After the exhibi-
tion, Connors said of the
young Israelis, "I don't want
to be around in 10 years
when they're on the pro tour."
Ten years later, Connors'
nightmare came true. He
returned to the Tel Aviv
courts for the Riklis Israel
Tennis Center Classic where
he again met Mansdorf — in
the semi-final round of the
tournament. Mansdorf de-
feated Connors, then beat
American Brad Gilbert to win
the tournament.
Mansdorf, now 26, is simp-
ly the best tennis player in
Israel's history. He is a na-
tional celebrity whose suc-
cesses make headlines across
the country. He's consistent-
ly been ranked among the top
30 players in the world for
five years. Hoping to win an

Little Amos (at right), age 14, with tennis pro Jimmy Connors (center).

Olympic medal in Barcelona,
he was forced to drop out of
competition after being
Well aware of his position as
a national role model,
Mansdorf still hopes to sur-
pass his previous ac-
complishments. "I would like
to do better, of course.
Because I think the Israeli
people deserve better,"
Mansdorf said in an inter-
view from Washington, D.C.,
last month, playing in the
U.S. pro circuit. "I would like
to see an Israeli athlete who
does really, really well. I'm
talking about the top, or very
close to it."
Mansdorf began his climb
to tennis stardom at age 10
when the Israel Tennis
Center opened in Tel Aviv.
The Tennis Center offered
free lessons and court time to
all Israeli children. The
Center provided the oppor-
tunity for him "to become
good at something," Mansdorf
Although the Center didn't
originally have a special pro-
gram for gifted players,
Mansdorf received extra court
time once his talent became
apparent, and played in inter-
national junior tournaments.

The Tennis Center instruc-
tors helped Mansdorf develop
a strong, baseline style, which
he still plays. He is not flashy.
Consistency is his greatest
achievement. "I play like
most guys my size," explain-
ed the 5-foot-8-inch,
140-pound Mansdorf. "It's
really tough to be a serve-and-
volley player for a guy who is
under 6 feet. You can't serve
as big as the other guys, and
then it's tougher to cover the
Mansdorf continues to be

Consistency is Amos Mansdorf's best weapon.

objective about his game. "I
have no major weaknesses
that the guys can exploit. But
I don't have a great shot,
either. I don't have what they
call a weapon, like (Andre)
Agassi's forehand or
(Michael) Stich's serve."
Mansdorf turned pro in
1983 at age 18, although his
career was slowed by two
years of military service.
After completing his military
commitment, he cracked the
world's top 100 in 1985. His
real breakthrough year was
1986 when he won his first
tournament in Johannesburg
and was ranked 37th at the
end of the year.
His Tel Aviv victory in 1987
when he defeated Connors _

and Gilbert was Mansdorf's
second tournament triumph.
Afterward, he donated his
$17,880 prize back to the Ten-
nis Center. "I felt that it was
time to give back, not only to
receive," he said.
He also thrilled Israelis in
1987 by teaming with veteran
Shlomo Glickstein to upset
Czechoslovakia in Davis Cup
doubles play. Mansdorf won
both his singles matches. He
beat Miloslav Mecir, then
ranked fourth in the world, in
four sets. Then he beat Karel
Novacek, again in four sets.
Israel reached the Davis Cup
quarterfinals that year, its
highest finish ever.
Since then, Mansdorf has
played solid, consistent ten-



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