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Israel at the Davis Cup

by: Amanda Wilkins - Last updated: 2006-07-24

Israel at Davis Cup

Israel at Davis Cup

The Israelis came to Eastboune to face Great Britain on the hallowed turf at Devonshire Park.

They fought five tough matches on the Centre Court of the International Tennis Centre and were out for revenge – last time GB met Israel at Eastboune in 1985 – before the new centre was built – GB won 4-1.

The team comprising Dudi Sela, Noam Okun, Harel Levy, Jonathan Erlich, Andy Ram, and late addition Decal Valzter were invited with their Captain Eyal Ran to drinks with the Mayor, Councilor Colin Betsey.

"We really enjoyed it," they said. "He’s a cool guy."  They were glad to come to the South Coast resort as they are used to playing in London and other cities.

"It’s good to come to a new, quiet place," they said.

Noam Okun had an easy three set victory over Alex Bogdanovic before Wimbledon mixed doubles winner Andy Ram faced a tough five setter with Andy Murray who won 2-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.6-3.

The doubles pairing of Ram and Erlich also fought a five setter against Murray and Delgado but the more experienced Israeli Champions came out victorious giving Israel a vital 2-1 lead on the second day.

On the final day the British Captain Jeremy Bates had to substitute Jamie Delgado to play the first singles against  Noam Okun as Murray had sustained a whiplash injury in the doubles.  The British player put up a strong fight but |Okun was determined to win for his country and in another five setter he came out on top.

This gave Israel’s latest recruit Dekel Valzter a chance to play his first Davis Cup tie against the British reserve player Alan Mackin in the dead rubber which Great Britain won.

Okun, who comes from Haifa, was delighted to win what he described as a very tough match.

"With everything that is going on in Israel I am delighted to hear that it was broadcast live and a lot of people were watching it,” he said. “If we have brought a little happiness to the people of Israel in this time of trouble I am just so pleased."

"The situation at home is very bad," he said. "I have spoken to my parents in Haifa this week and bombs have been landing a few yards from where they live.

"Normally everybody is outside on the streets going to shopping malls. Now the streets are empty and sirens are going off all the time."

Security was very tight for the tie with bags being searched everytime people entered the ground.

There were a couple of peaceful demonstrations outside but inside there were almost as many Israeli flags as there were Union Jacks.

Paul Harris had travelled down from Harrow with his flag and Star of David hat and cheers resounded round the stadium when Okun secured the tie for Israel.