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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


January 26, 2018  RSS feed
World News

Text: T T T

Israeli youth from varied backgrounds to display tennis talent

Daniel Dudockin Daniel Dudockin Daniel Dudockin was born and raised in a kibbutz near the Lebanon border.

When he was 9, the second Lebanon war had started and his family was wrought with fear and uncertainty because his oldest brother was a soldier. The Israel Tennis Center (ITC) became Dudockin’s safe haven, the place he turned to, during his personal struggles.

ITC is an organization that works through the medium of sport to enhance the development of Israeli youth. The Tampa JCCs & Federation will again host the ITC Foundation tennis team on Thursday, March 1 from noon to 1:30 p.m. for an exhibition and fundraiser at the Sandra W. Freedman Tennis Complex on Davis Islands, 59 Columbia Drive, Tampa. A complimentary lunch will be served.

While there is no admission, a donation is appreciated to help fund current ITC programs. Maureen and Doug Cohn are chairing the event.

Those in attendance will get to see some talented young tennis players, hear their inspiring stories and learn more about the Israel Tennis Centers.

Jessica Bekkerman Jessica Bekkerman Since opening its first center in Ramat Hasharon in 1976, the ITC has helped over a half million children, including at-risk youth and those with special needs with many coming from outlying and underserved towns. The ITC’s 14 centers stretch from Kiryat Shmona on the Lebanese border in the North to Beer Sheva bordering the Negev Desert in the South.

Dudockin, 20, is the oldest of the Israeli tennis players who will be showing off their talents here.

Other ITC players are:

Jessica Bekkerman, 18, lives in Jaffa with her parents, who emigrated from the former Soviet Union before she was born. She attends an international school where the student population is predominantly comprised of Arabs, and as an Israeli Jew, Bekkerman is the anomaly. Since the age of 5, she trained as a competitive ballroom dancer and traveled abroad for international competitions. Her parents encouraged her to learn tennis at the Nussdorf Mark Families ITC-Jaffa as a recreational sport to maintain her fitness and health.

Jennifer Ibeto Jennifer Ibeto Besides learning a new sport that she has grown to love, Bekkerman joined the Girls Empowerment Program, where the girls learn about nutrition, fitness and coping skills to deal with a variety of gender issues and concerns including sexism in Israeli society.

Jennifer Ibeto, 16, is the oldest child of a Nigerian single mother who came to Israel 16 years ago. Jennifer trains at the ITC’s Center in South Tel Aviv. Things have been financially difficult for Ibeto. As a result, the ITC sponsors her training and equipment. In addition, the center provides counseling to help her become a more confident and successful person both on the court and in life. She says her ITC coach is like the father she never had. “He is a man that loves everybody regardless of where they came from.”

Orel Adga Orel Adga Orel Adga, 14, lives in Beer Sheva with his seven brothers and sisters. His parents emigrated from Ethiopia to Israel via Sudan in the mid-1980s during Operation Moses. He joined the ITC sponsored “Future Generation” tennis program for Ethiopian children at the Samson Israel Tennis Center in Beer Sheva at the age of 6, benefiting from not only tennis training, but also help with homework, English language fluency, science projects and social activities, as well as meals and transportation.

“The ITC has not only taught me how to be a better player, but how to be a better friend and teammate with kids from all backgrounds,” said Adga. “The other activities in my program have helped me improve in school. The ITC is preparing me for life.”

The coach of the team is Badia Karkabi, a Christian Arab from the northern Israeli town of Wadi Nisnas. It is an underserved community, and Karkabi had a difficult childhood. He found the Selma & Irving Ettenberg Israel Tennis Center in Haifa and was able to thrive at school and on the court. He eventually became an assistant coach at the ITC-Haifa, where he participates in a program that teaches the younger students life skills and values. Recently, Badia became the head coach of the ITCGalilee Sajur.

Following the exhibition, there also will be an opportunity for community members to play with team members.

Anyone interested in playing or for more information, contact Doug Cohn at If you are interested in housing a member of the team for the evening, contact Pam Cotner at

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