Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Israeli Tennis Star Shahar Peer Claims Her Place in Dubai

Israeli tennis ace, Shahar Peer, earned her place in the Dubai Tennis Championship by reaching the tournament semi-final event by defeating the No.10 ranked player, Li Na, China's first Grand Slam tennis star. Peer, age 22, managed to defeat Na, who forfeited the second game against Peer due to suffering a back injury. Peer, who was refused a visa to play in Dubai last year, considered her playing there a moral victory; not only for herself but for Israel as well.

"It's not easy being Israeli in a place like Dubai; I'm the only player who has not played on center court (the court where the matches are televised and the top players are seen on)" she said. This was especially true, following the world-wide attention given the assassination of a top Hamas agent, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a few weeks before; and whose death is now being blamed on Israel's Mossad intelligence organization.

Shahar played against American tennis star Venus Williams in the semi-final event, losing against the No. 3 ranked player by 6-4, 6-1. But despite her loss to Williams (whom Peer has played against twice) the plucky Sabra athlete was still upbeat and considered her reaching the semi-finals well worth all the security problems she had to face during her stay in the Arab Emirate state. "From a tennis standpoint as well as a psychological standpoint, it was really an experience that I'll never forget. This was a dream week in which almost everything came together at the right time. If someone were to ask me if I would've been happy with this result a while ago, I would've gladly taken it", she said upon arriving back in Israel.

Due to security concerns, Peer could not mix with other tennis players and spent most of her stay in her hotel room – except when she was playing, of course. American tennis star Venus Williams said afterwards that she "really admired Shahar's courage and fortitude" and may have even helped Peer's attendance by saying that she would only go the tournament if Shahar Peer was allowed to play.

Currently ranked No. 22 in the world, Shahar's performance in Dubai may elevate her to be "within the top 20" in world ranking (she has previously been ranked as high as 17). Her reaching the "semis" in Dubai may also help her performance in other tournaments this year, including ones like the French Open and Wimbledon.

Incidentally, Shahar Peer was in the Israeli military and excelled in marksmanship; during her basic training. She spent her compulsory service as a secretary, while she also practiced playing tennis.

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