Aug. 19, 2011
Israel impresses on the court
Julia Glushko ends the VanOpen as a quarter finalist.
Israeli Julia Glushko achieved her highest career ranking in tennis by finishing as a quarter finalist at the $100,000 Odium Brown VanOpen tournament held last month at the Hollyburn Country Club in Vancouver. Glushko defeated six opponents, including three victories in the qualifying round, raising her ranking to 175 from 197.
“I will always remember the VanOpen for my best finish this year at the tournament,” said the 21-year-old Glushko following her final match. “I am gearing up for play at the U.S. Open in New York, and feel confident and ready to play well for the rest of the season.”
In Vancouver, Glushko was impressive, not dropping a set until her fifth match. She defeated Canadians Tracy Dorn 6-2, 6-0 and Brittany Wowchuk 6-1, 6-2, as well as American Asia Muhammed 6-4, 6-3, in the qualifying rounds. Glushko continued her impressive run in the main draw by defeating Sharon Fichman of Toronto 6-3, 6-4 and Austrian Olivia Rogowska 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 before losing her quarter-final match to American Jamie Hampton 6-4, 6-4.
Born in Donetak, Ukraine, Glushko started to play tennis at age three and emigrated with her parents to Israel when she was eight years old. Glushko honed her game through the Israel Tennis Centre’s training program and won four junior titles representing Israel. By age 17, she was ranked 10th in the world junior tennis rankings.
Glushko made her pro debut at 14 and won her first pro title at 17 to go with her three pro doubles titles in her career. Those who have played against Glushko feel that her talent will give her a long career in tennis.
“Julia plays a very aggressive game and when she is in a zone, she becomes difficult, if not impossible, to beat,” said Fichman, who lost twice to Glushko in three weeks, after defeating Glushko in the 2005 Maccabiah Games in Israel en route to her gold medal victory for Canada.
Teaming with Shahar Peer on the Israeli Fed Cup team, Glushko won both of her singles matches to complement the 24th-ranked Peer on the Fed Cup team. “Julia is definitely very positive for Israel and speaks well of the talent in our nation. As Julia gains more experience, she will become a formidable opponent,” said Peer, who was competing in Toronto at the Rogers Cup tournament. Glushko almost defeated Peer at the 2010 Israeli National Tennis Championships, taking Israel’s number one-ranked player to three sets before losing the match.
“It is only a matter of time before Julia believes in her ability to become as good as she can be. I honestly think that Julia could be ranked among the top 100 players on the pro circuit,” said Glushko’s coach Shlomo Tzoref.
Although disappointed by her opening round loss to Glushko, the 20-year-old Fichman is now Canada’s number one doubles player. Fichman is the first Jewish Canadian player competing for her country in Fed Cup play since Vicki Berner of Vancouver played for Canada in the 1960s.
Born and raised in Toronto, Fichman’s parents are from Romania and lived in Israel for three years before arriving in Canada in 1988. Fichman won the Junior Orange Bowl International Tennis Championship at age 12 and was a finalist at 14. Turning pro in 2009, Fichman won three International Tennis Federation junior titles.
Other Jewish players competing at the VanOpen were Americans Gail Brodsky, ranked 247, who lost to Russian Alina Rodionova 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 in her opening-round match, and Amanada Fink, ranked 351, who defeated Kristyna Pliskova of Russia 7-6 (4), 6-1 before losing to Eleni Danilidou of Greece 6-7 (7), 6-1, 6-4.
Last year’s Israeli player Dudi Sela (see “Israel’s tennis pro,” Jewish Independent, Aug. 20, 2010) did not return to the VanOpen to defend his men’s single title and there were no Jewish players competing in the men’s draw.
To read results and more on VanOpen tennis, go to vanopen.com.
Marvin Glassman is a Toronto freelance writer.