TEL AVIV (Sep. 13)
Israeli officials are hoping that a delegation of tennis players from China will herald a breakthrough in relations with Beijing the way ping-pong did between the United States and China two decades ago.
The first official delegation from the People’s Republic of China arrived in Israel this week, consisting of four tennis players.
They will engage members of Israel’s national tennis team in the opening round of the World Group qualifying matches for the Davis Cup, which opened at the Ramat Hasharon tennis courts Thursday.
The Chinese had requested a postponement of the matches in Israel on grounds that their best players are presently engaged in the Asian tennis championship tournament.
The World Cup management rejected the request, with the result that China is represented here by virtual unknowns.
They are Liu Xiao Cheng, 21, who is ranked 1,000 on the ATP international computer; Lin Di, 22, who does not even appear on the 1,250-name list; and Zhang Jiaheng and Dai Xiong.
The Israeli team is made up of Amos Mansdorf, currently rated 37th in the world, and Gilad Bloom, 23, rated 66th, who both reached the final 16 of the U.S. Open Championship last week.