(Israel Hayom/exclusive to JNS.org) After falling short the past two years, Israel's Davis Cup tennis team defied expectations and advanced to the World Group stage of the annual tournament with a dramatic 3-2 road victory over Japan.
“This team is doing amazing things,” said team member Andy Ram upon returning from Japan. Israel’s team includes Ram, Weintraub, Dudi Sela and Jonathan Erlich, and it captained by Eyal Ran.
The World Group stage of the tournament includes the final 16 teams. The draw for the 2013 World Group stage was held on Wednesday in London. Israel will face France on the road in the first round in February 2013. The last time Israel reached the World Group stage in 2010, it fell 4-1 to Chile in the first round.
The Davis Cup team put itself in Israel’s sports history books in 2009 when it reached the World Group semifinals before losing 4-1 to eventual champion Spain. Amir Weintraub secured Israel’s 3-2 victory over Japan in Tokyo on Sunday, beating Go Soeda 6-3, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3 in the fifth and decisive rubber game between the two teams.
“Everyone gave it their all, they are all heroes,” Ran said. “This is a major achievement for Israeli tennis. After an amazing day like this, we definitely deserve to be in [the World Group stage].”