Mansdorf, Amos : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Mansdorf, Amos

Mansdorf is considered by some to be Israel's greatest tennis player. He was the the top Israeli tennis player from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. Amos got a later start than other players from his era. He also had less practice time during critical training years due to his mandatory service with the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), just as earlier tennis star Shlomo Glickstein had done. Mansdorf put his country before his profession. In response to being asked if he would play again soon after the start of the Persian Gulf war, he said: "How will it look to the public if I go (play tennis) and Israelis are sitting in their gas masks?" Unfortunately, Amos had to end his career prematurely. He suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome, which wouldn't allow him to practice or play with maximum effort all the time.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. Oct. 20, 1965

Career Highlights:
Instantly attracted to tennis when he watched his parents play, Amos did not start playing the sport himself until he was ten years old. Since there were very few tennnis courts in Israel, an Israel Tennis Center was internationally funded by South Africa, England, and the U.S. in 1976. When accepted into the youth program, Mansdorf never stopped playing tennis, even passing up the opportunity to enjoy vacations. In 1983, Amos won the Asian Junior Championshop in Hong Kong, but believed, "The crucial years are from 15 to 21. It's very, very hard to learn things after that time." Mansdorf also felt that he could have been an even better player if he had been coached in the United States.

When he was 18 years old, Amos entered the army. He was unable to practice while other international players were doing so twice a day because his basic training was too intense. Still, Mansdorf was allowed to continue to play on the ATP tour, if on a limited basis, and by the time his training was over, Mansdorf was ranked No. 36 in the world. While not exactly a firecracker like John McEnroe, Amos had at times, displayed a bad temper. One time, after jumping over the net and pushing an opponent who he thought was cheating, he was suspended for a month. However, overall, Mansdorf says "I have the reputation on tour of being in control and a good fighter."

During his terrific career, Mansdorf had modest success in the Grand Slam tournaments. He reached the round of 16 at the Australian Open, U.S. Open, and Wimbledon, and defeated such top players as Wimbledon champion Michael Stich and then-fourth-ranked Boris Becker in other tournaments. Amos was able to reach the finals of the U.S. Pro Indoor championships, but lost to Pete Sampras in the final. He was among the world's best in his prime and ranked as high as No. 18 in November, 1987. Following his retirement in the early 1990s, Mansdorf continued to remain active in Israeli tennis, and is currently the chairman of the Israel Tennis Center and Israel Tennis Association's program for promising young tennis players. He is also a diamond seller in Ramat Aviv.

Tel Aviv, Israel

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