Israeli tennis player, Dudi Sela is becoming a fan of Japanese cuisine in Vancouver, Canada. That’s because he’s a regular fixture in the city – or so it seems. For the fourth time, the 30-year-old from Kiryat Shmona, Israel, (now based in Tel Aviv,) recently claimed singles victory in the 14th Annual Odlum Brown VanOpen Men’s Championship, beating John-Patrick Smith of Australia, 6-4, 7-5 at the Hollyburn Country Club. The crown is even sweeter because Sela is just the fifth player to win 4-plus titles at a single ATP Challenger event. He’s now in sole possession of second place on the all-time Challenger titles list (18), breaking a tie with Japanese veteran Go Soeda. With this win, Sela jumped 30 places on the ATP World Tour. He hit a career – high of No. 29 in 2009 when he reached the quarter finals at Wimbledon and was defeated by Novak Djokovic.
Sela has won four Championships at the Odlum Brown VanOpen – first in 2005 then 2008, 2010 and now 2015. Joking after the match in his on-court interview Sela said “I think you should not let me in here next time. “You need a different champion next time.”
Sela has earned over $2.5 million U.S. throughout his career on the pro circuit plus endorsements,
“In Israel we practice on a court where the balls are not bouncing high and it’s the same here,” continued Sela. “I’m not that tall (5’9”) so this one suits me very well. I have many friends and family here. I feel at home. They are pushing me and I don’t want to let them down. I feel like I’m playing in Israel.”
The best tennis players ever produced in Israel – Shahar Peer, Dudi Sela, Andy Ram, Jonathan Erlich, Shlomo Glickstein and Amos Mansdorf , all have one thing in common; every one of them spent their formative years learning the sport at the Israel Tennis Centers across the country. In fact Mansdorf, considered by many to be the greatest Israeli tennis player, ranked as high as 18th in the world in 1987, is now the Chairman of the Israel Tennis Centers and a coach. And renowned Israeli coach, Oded (Dedi) Jacob, a former Olympic and Davis Cup coach, was hired by Tennis Canada in 2011 to develop Vancouver’s national junior training program.
When Sela wasn’t playing tennis, he really enjoyed experiencing Vancouver’s food scene. “I have a lot of friends here and one night we went to the city and we had the most unreal sashimi salmon I’ve ever had – I mean it was amazing! But not just the food,” he said laughing. “ With the mountains, it’s one of the nicest venues on any of the Challenge or ATP tours. ”
Sela hasn’t played as many tournaments this year as he and his wife are expecting their second child and he’s trying to devote more time to his family. That’s a very difficult task when you’re playing tennis all over the world trying to keep up your ranking and earn prize money. Still, Sela has earned over $2.5 million U.S. throughout his career on the pro circuit plus endorsements, making him Israel’s #1 tennis player and long-time Davis Cup competitor.
“Winning this tournament gave me a lot of confidence going into the U.S. Open,” Sela said. He meets Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay in the first round.
TOP PHOTO: John-Patrick Smith of Australia, Courtesy Odlum Brown VanOpen Tennis Championship, Tournament Chairman Floyd Hill and 2015 Odlum Brown VanOpen Champion, Dudi Sela, flanked my Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Odlum Brown VanOpen Presented by Miele and Trail Appliances van open