Wheelchair Tennis Tournament Attracts Israeli Star

January 19, 2012 by Henry Benjamin
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29-yr-old Noam Gershony is ranked 3rd in the world in quadriplegic division of the challenging sport of wheelchair tennis and is competing in the 2012 Sydney International Wheelchair Tennis Open which starts tomorrow.

Coach Nimrod Bichler with Noam Gershony pic: Henry Benjamin

Gershony was an Apache helicopter pilot in the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon. His aircraft collided with another killing his co-pilot and hospitalising Gershony for six months with spinal injuries. Gershany has mastered the use of a specially built wheelchair to play his favorite sport tennis.

The tournament will feature players from 22 counties including teams from the USA, Japan, Brazil, the Netherlands and the lone Israeli.

Gershony is accompanied in Australia by his 37-yr-old coach from Ramat Gan, Nimrod Bichler. Bichler told J-Wire that he had played junior tennis but loved coaching wheelchair players. He said: “Last year was Noam’s first full year on the tour. He started the year ranked 30th in the world and ended the year ranked number three. He won two ITF1 tournaments in Korea, the third-ranking tournament in the world and reached the finals in Japan and Florida. The guys at the top usually stay there for years and the organisers are calling him the rising star of the quad events.”

Noam Gershany at full stretch Pic: Henry Benjamin

Israeli super star Shahar Peer has met Gershony. He said: “I tried to get her involved in a special doubles tournament with one regular player and one wheelchair player…but she was injured at the time of the tournament. The sport is growing in Israel.”

When Gershony is not playing tennis, he teaches mathematics to underprivileged children who have been housed by Israeli authorities in a special home for children whose family background has necessitated separation and special protection.

Tel Aviv based Gershony told J-Wire he had been playing tennis for four and a half years. He said: “I always liked playing sports and before I got injured I used to play volleyball, soccer and basketball and I took five tennis lessons before my injuries. I can walk with the aid of crutches and I can still ski. I have two friends traveling in Australia at the moment and they will be total support group. They will come to Melbourne to.

Following the Sydney tournament which finishes on Tuesday, Gershony will fly to Melbourne to compete in the Australian Open Wheelchair Championship at Melbourne Park. The wheelchair division is part of the Grand Slam competition.

The Sydney tournament will run at the Tennis Centre at Sydney Olympic Park from Friday until Tuesday.


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