Peer, Shahar : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Peer, Shahar

The 2004 Australian Open Juniors champion, Shahar is now entrating on her seniors career. Peer's youth rankings have as a result gone down to No. 22, from her career high No. 2 ranking.

Shahar is considered the most talented of all Israeli-born female tennis players. She recently entered the WTA rankings and is ranked No. 67 in singles play (her career high was 63) and 133 in doubles (her career high) as of July 8, 2005. Shahar noted that "I was not even supposed to go to Australia. My parents convinced me but once I set my mind to something, I go all the way."

Birth and Death Dates:
b. May 1st, 1987

Career Highlights:
Shahar won her first title at the age of 12 when she captured the Eddie Herr International Doubles title with Nicole Vaidisova (her vanquished foe in the 2004 Aussie Open final). She reached the Eddie Herr singles final as well. In December 2001, she won the Israeli Women Open singles title. Later that month, Peer won the championship at the Junior Orange Bowl, an important ITF tournament.

In 2002, Shahar came into her own as a legitimate ITF top 50 player. In March she won the Bat-Yam International singles title and was a doubles finalist. In April, she was victorious at the Haifa International doubles event. Peer was a finalist at the prestigious Leciva tournament in the Czech Republic, and reached the semifinals of the Frankfurt International.

An injury limited the precocious talent to periodic appearances in 2003, but when she did play, Peer was very effective. In March, she won the Aamata Cup in Pattaya, Thailand. Three months later, she played in her first juniors grand slam tournament. The sixteen year-old fared well in the French Open against older opponents, making it to the final eight despite the odds.

Shahar opened 2004 with a flourish at the Australian Open. The Israeli and her partner, Jarmila Gajdosova of Slovakia, were ranked 4th in the doubles competition. They breezed past Michaela Johansson and Jennifer Elie 6-3, 6-0 in the first round. Lara Giltinan and Wen Hsin Hsu did not present a greater challenge as they were unceremoniously dismissed, 6-0, 6-2. In the quarterfinals they beat American duo Michelle Mitchell and Katrina Tsang 6-4, 6-2, before falling to the top ranked team of Nicole Vaidisova and Veronika Chvojkova 6-2, 6-4.

Peer fared even better in the singles tournament where she was ranked No. 13 and considered a long shot at best. She demolished local girl Olivia Lukaszewicz 6-0, 6-0 on her way to facing a tougher Australian challenger in the second round. Having dropped the first set, Shahar bounced back to beat Sophie Ferguson 3-6, 6-1, 6-1. Michaela Johansson of Sweden (6-1, 6-2) and Canadian Stephanie Dubois (6-4, 6-0) were Peer's next victims. Swiss hopeful Timea Bacsinszky made Shahar battle for every point as the Israeli fought her way to a 7-6, 7-5 victory (the first set was decided by a 9-7 tiebreaker). In the final, Shahar beat her partner turned nemesis, Nicole Vaidisova (ranked 3rd in the tournament) 6-1, 6-4.

Peer came into the 2004 Roland Garros juniors event seeded 3rd but on mediocre form. In the first round she beat unfancied Hungarian Agnes Szavay 6-3, 1-6, 6-4. Regina Kulikova stretched Shahar to three sets in the second round, but she overcame 6-2, 2-6, 6-2. She met the Belorussian 12th seed, Viktoria Azarenka in the third round and won 6-4, 7-5. Peer faced Viktoria Azarenka, seeded 6th in the quarter-finals.

In the junior doubles event, the youngster teamed up with the talented Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland. They beat Korina Perkovic and Nicole Thijssen easily, 6-0, 6-3 in the first round. They then handily ejected Korina Perkovic and Nicole Thijssen from the competition 6-4, 6-2. The team lost to the highly rated duo of Viktoria Azarenka and Volha Havartsova.

Shahar was seeded fourth in the 2004 Wimbledon girls event. She breezed past the first two rounds by beating Regina Koulikova 6-3, 6-2 and Neha Uberoi 6-3, 6-2. Peer destroyed Romanian Agnes Szatmari 6-1, 6-1 in the third round. She finally fell to the up and coming youth star Katerina Bondarenko (seeded sixth) 3-6, 6-3, 1-6. The Israeli player was lucky to pair up with Michaela Krajicek of the Netherlands and the duo were seeded first in the competition. Nikola Frankova and Agnes Szavay provided surprisingly stern opposition, but finally relented 4-6, 6-3, 9-7. Teodora Mircic and Irena Pavlovic proved a lesser challenge and were eliminated by a 6-3, 6-2 score. The sixth seeded team of Yung-Jan Chan and Aleksandra Wozniak was unexpectedly lackluster and thus were brushed aside 6-2, 6-4 in the quarter finals. The well drilled Bulgarian duo of Viktoria Azarenka and Volha Havartsova (seeded third) knocked Peer and Krajicek out on their way to the final 6-7, 2-6.

Peer was seeded second in the 2004 U.S Open juniors event and justified her placing with a solid showing. She beat Tamira Paszek of Austria 7-5, 6-3 in the first round. Shahar dispensed of Italian Verdiana Verardi in the subsequent round 6-4, 6-3. She faced her toughest opponent yet in the third round, the 16th seed Aleksandra Wozniak, and fought her way to a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory. The Israeli youngster beat Belarussian ace Olga Govortsova (the 8th seed) rather handily 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals. Peer faced the on-form American, Jessica Kirkland (seeded 4th) in the semi's and lost 2-6, 6-4, 2-6. Shahar entered the doubles competition with Russian Alisa Kleybanova (the duo was seeded fourth), and they won their first round match vs. Andrea Remynse and Jennifer Stevens 6-4, 6-2. Maraike Biglmaier and Magdalena Kiszczynska failed to threaten Peer and Kleybanova, as they cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 second round win. However, the seventh seeded team of Nikola Frankova and Agnes Sazavay proved to be their undoing in a 4-6, 3-6 quarterfinal loss.

Peer established herself as a legitimate grand slam mover and shaker in the 2005 Roland Garros tournament. She beat crowd favorite Marion Bartoli (seeded 28th) in two confident sets 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the second round. The Israeli proceeded to defeat Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 in a volatile match-up. Shahar was finally eliminated by Nadia Petrova, a Russian powerhouse seeded 7th in the Open, 3-6, 1-6 before heading home. The impressive performance will see Peer cement her position among the top 100 and begin her thrust towards the WTA top 50.

Peer was matched up against Meilen Tu of the United States in the first round of Wimbledon 2005. The Israeli up and comer outclassed her 6-3, 6-3 to advance in the tournament. Shahar faced the explosive Daniela Hantuchova (seeded 20th) in the second round and was eliminated after a stern fight 6-2, 2-6, 6-3. Peer and Russian teenager Vera Douchevina paired up for the ladies doubles event and beat Jill Craybas and Marlene Weingartner in two hard fought sets 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (11-9) in the first round. The team then took out Czechs Gabriela Navratilova and Michaela Pastikova (seeded 16th) 2-6, 7-6 (9-7), 8-6. Douchevina and Peer beat another seeded duo in Els Callens and Emmanuelle Gagliardi (seeded 17th) with a 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 victory. They fell in the quarterfinals to legend Martina Navratilova and partner Anna-Lena Groenefeld (seeded 8th) 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.

b. Maccabim, Israel

Career Dates:
Junior player: 1998-

Senior player: 2004-

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