Home » HEADLINES AND FEATURES, Lead, Top Stories » Can Diego Schwartzman Become The First Jewish U.S. Open Champion?

by Randy Walker



Can Diego Schwartzman become the first person of full Jewish faith to win a U.S. Open singles title?

The diminutive five-foot-seven-inch firestorm from Buenos Aires, Argentina moved into the fourth round Friday with a 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-4 upset over 2014 U.S. Open champion and No. 5 seed Marin Cilic. The win caused raucous rounds of cheering from fans across the grounds at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The highest seed between the No. 29-seeded Schwartzman and the U.S. Open final is No. 12 Pablo Carreno Busta. Schwartzman next plays No. 16 Lucas Pouille in the round of 16 on Sunday.

“If Diego is able to win the U.S. Open be assured they’ll be dancing the Hora around the U.S. Open grounds in celebration,” said Sandra Harwit, author of the book The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All Time, covering the 2017 U.S. Open for USA Today. ”We don’t want to make Diego nervous, so we won’t start talking about the final yet. But there’s likely isn’t a Jewish tennis fan in the world who isn’t rooting him on.”

No player of Jewish faith has won the U.S. Open singles title although Pete Sampras has always seemed proud of his partial Jewish heritage from his father’s side of the family. Tom Okker of the Netherlands, who had one Jewish parent but identified with the religion, and American Herb Flam, were two Jewish players who were finalists at the American Grand Slam.

Aaron Krickstein also excelled at the U.S. Open but his best result was a semifinal finish in 1989. In her “Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” book, Harwitt profiles Brian Teacher, the 1980 Australian Open singles champion, and Dick Savitt, the 1951 Australian and Wimbledon champion, the only Jewish men to win major singles titles. Harwitt also profiles Suzy Kormoczy of Hungary, the winner of the 1958 French women’s singles title, the only Jewish woman to win a major singles title.

New York is the city with the second-biggest Jewish population behind Tel Aviv, which makes him a popular player in Flushing Meadows during the fortnight and will continue to make him a fan favorite for the rest of the tournament.

“The New York Jewish community has always been very supportive of the Jewish players competing at the U.S. Open,” Harwitt said. “There’s no doubt that Diego Schwartzman is feeling that love from Jewish fans at the Open. And they’ll be out for every match he plays for as long as he is in the draw.”

In a story in Jewish Telegraphic Agency earlier this year, Schwartzman said he did not attend a Hebrew school in Buenos Aires, but he does observe Jewish holidays. In 2016, he told the ATP World Tour that he receives great support from the Jewish population in his hometown of Buenos Aires.

“I am Jewish and in Argentina, we have many Jewish [people] there, and all the people there know me,” he said.

“The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players Of All Time” book, which is also for sale at the US Open book store, is a guide to the best and most influential Jewish tennis players in the history of the sport and includes features and biographies of the greatest players, stories of both break-out success and anti-Semitism. Beginning with the Italian Baron Umberto de Morpurgo in the 1920s, the book features stories such as the best German player who was prevented from playing by the Nazis, the player who competed on both the men’s and women’s tour, the only fully Jewish player to rank No. 1 in the world, and the player who was denied entry into a country to play a Women’s Tennis Association tournament—in the 21st century. This history also discusses the ways in which Jewish individuals have been instrumental behind the scenes, playing key roles in the growth of tennis into one of the world’s most popular sports. Among the 37 players featured are Dick Savitt, Brian Teacher, Ilana Kloss, Aaron Krickstein, Brad Gilbert, Julie Heldman, Amos Mansdorf, Anna Smashnova, Justin Gimelstob, Angela Buxton and Brian Gottfried. The book retails for $19.95 and is available where books are sold, including here on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/193755936X/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_vl8rub1RK7P00

“Tennis does have its ‘Game, Set and Matzo’ element and I am thrilled to present them in ‘The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All Time,’” said Harwitt when the book was released. “Each player’s personal saga will touch all tennis fans, Jewish or not, because their stories are instrumental to the history of the game. The experience writing this book was an exciting and rewarding adventure in discovering many fascinating stories.”

Harold Solomon, who is also profiled in the book, contributed the foreword to the book. “You don’t need to be Jewish to appreciate the story of any of these Jewish tennis players,” wrote Solomon. “You just have to be someone who has a curious side and likes to learn about people and how they ended up being who they are and doing what they did.”

Gottfried, the 1977 French Open singles finalist, said of Harwitt, “Who better to write a story about the lives of Jewish tennis players than someone who has ‘been there and done that.’ Sandy has been a fixture on the ATP and WTA Tour for many decades as a very knowledgeable and respected tennis journalist. My family and I have enjoyed getting to know her over the years and being included in her book has been an honor and a privilege.”

Peter Bodo of Tennis.com said, “Sandy Harwitt is a deeply experienced and well-traveled writer, which brings to this book a special stamp of authority. It isn’t just a good book about Jewish tennis players – it’s a good tennis book, period.”

U.S. Davis Cup captain and former world No. 1 Jim Courier said, “Sandy has lived and breathed the sport for years. Her detail and insight into these players personal and professional lives is both remarkable and inspiring.”

Tennis writer and historian Joel Drucker said, “Dozens of Jewish men and women have made a distinctive mark on tennis. Longstanding tennis writer Sandra Harwitt has dug deep to bring these compelling stories to life – fascinating backstories and remarkable journeys both inside and outside the lines.”

Television commentator and former player Mary Carillo said, “Sandy Harwitt is the ideal writer to bring you the lives of the people in this book. She is a true tennis “lifer” and her love and knowledge of the game has produced one remarkable story after another, about tennis players you knew, or wish you knew.”

Harwitt, a freelance sportswriter who specializes in tennis, has covered more than 70 Grand Slam tournaments for media outlets such as the Associated Press, ESPN.com, ESPNW.com, the Miami Herald, the New York Times, and Tennis magazine. She is a member of the International Tennis Writers’ Association and the Association for Women in Sports Media. She lives in Boca Raton, Florida.


Diego Schwartzman

Diego Schwartzman

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About Admin
Randy Walker is a communications and marketing specialist, writer, tennis historian and the managing partner of New Chapter Media – www.NewChapterMedia.com. He was a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s marketing and communications division where he worked as the press officer for 22 U.S. Davis Cup ties, three Olympic tennis teams and was an integral part of USTA media services team for 14 US Opens. He is the author of the books ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY and THE DAYS OF ROGER FEDERER

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