Glickstein, Shlomo : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Glickstein, Shlomo

Ranked among the world's best in the early 1980s, Glickstein is considered by many to be the greatest tennis player Israel has ever produced (although others consider Amos Mansdorf worthy of the top honors). Ivan Lendl, at one time the No. 1 player in the world, said of Shlomo, "He has great anticipation. He always waits for the ball where the ball is coming. He looks as if he's going to move very slow, but he is really fast. He always does the right thing. He has great shots, especially passing shots on the backhand down the line. He has a great touch." Glickstein's highest world ranking was No. 22 in November, 1982.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. Jan. 6, 1958

Career Highlights:
When he was ten years old, Glickstein began playing tennis, and at the age of 16, he decided to give up basketball and soccer to focus solely on the sport. His talent was recognized by Israeli national coach Ron Steele by the time Shlomo was 12. According to Steele, Shlomo was "undoubtedly the best tennis prospect in Israel...By the time he finished the juniors, Shlomo was one of the top ten juniors in the world." Although his career was hampered by the fact that he had to serve three years in the Israeli military at a key point in his athletic development (age 18-21), Shlomo did play on Israel's Davis Cup team 1976-1980 while serving in the army.

For a time, Shlomo had thought of giving up on tennis, but when his father Moshe (former chairman of the Israel Tennis Association's Youth Committee) died in 1978, Glickstein told his coach, Ron Steele, "I've made my decision: I'm going to be a tennis player. I want to honor my father's name in tennis." The following year, after being released by the army, Shlomo joined the professional tour and began his climb up the world rankings. Shortly after turning pro, he won his third straight Israeli National championship and was urged by Steele to become an attacking player.

In 1980, Glickstein gained international fame when he defeated Raul Ramirez, who was ranked No. 35 in the world, in the first-round at Wimbledon. Israeli journalists compared Shlomo to the biblical Samson, who grew up in Ashkelon, the same town as Glickstein. After losing to eventual champion Bjorn Borg in the second game, Shlomo won the Wimbledon Plate, the consolation tournament; Borg said after their match, "He has been doing very well. After all, hes been on the circuit only one year." Glickstein finished the year ranked No. 57 in the world and the following year, he was ranked No. 33; in 1982, he was ranked No. 22, the highest of his career.

Among Glickstein's most memorable career victories were over then-No.1 ranked Ivan Lendl, No. 9 Harold Solomon, No. 10 Eliot Teltscher, and No. 11 Brian Gottfried. In 1981, Glickstein won the South Orange, New Jersey Grand Prix, becoming the first Israeli to win a tennis grand prix. Shlomo played until 1988, then became the director of the Israel Tennis Academy in Ramat Hasharon from 1992-1996. In the spring of 1998, he was still managing the Davis and Federation Cup teams.

Rehovot, Israel

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Great Jews in Sports, by Robert Slater (New York: Jonathan David Publishers, 2000)