Edelstein Travels Unusual Path To UMass
April 14, 2003
University of Massachusetts women's tennis player Sasha Edelstein has traveled an unusual path to compete for the Minutewomen. Growing up in Haifa, Israel, Edelstein was surrounded by an environment with limited resources in terms of tennis. She started playing tennis at the Israel Tennis Center at age nine and continued playing through high school. However, after she graduated from Yevony G, she had to serve a mandatory two years in the Israeli Army, preventing her from playing the amount of tennis she desired. Soon after her tour of duty, Edelstein decided to further both her education and her tennis career when she agreed to attend the University of Massachusetts. She currently plays both singles and doubles for the Minutewomen under Head Coach Judy Dixon, and takes a 6-11 singles mark and 7-9 doubles record into the 2003 Atlantic 10 Championships, April 17-19.
Laura McEvoy of the UMass Media Relations Office recently sat down with Edelstein for a one-on-one interview:
McEvoy: "Where did you grow up and when did you first pick up a racquet?"
Edelstein: "I was born in the Ukraine. When I was eight, I moved to Israel and began playing tennis at age nine. I continued playing while I was serving in the Army."
McEvoy: "Why did you have to serve in the Army?"
Edelstein: "In Israel, it is mandatory that you have to serve in the Army right after high school".
McEvoy: "Is tennis popular in Israel? Which sport is most popular? How does it compare to tennis publicity and culture in America?"
Edelstein: "Tennis isn't as popular as it is in the United States. Soccer is the most popular sport. In the United States, so much is about sports. Everyone here is crazy about sports. In Israel, people are too busy trying to survive. My country is always at war. I don't mean that they don't include sports in their daily lives, but relative to the United States there really isn't an emphasis on sports. Also there are only three major universities and there is no competition between them. I guess it's just not as developed there. The only sport in high school is gym. I love competing here because I think the competition against universities is great."
McEvoy: "I know you were undefeated in team play at the No. 1 singles position during the 2002 fall season as a sophomore. However, why didn't you compete as a freshman?"
Edelstein: "Well, I had to serve two years of mandatory Army Service in Israel. I did play tournaments in the Army, but when I came here I had to sit for that season because of the NCAA's new rule. If you didn't start college a year after graduating from high school, you have to sit your first year in college. The NCAA wants to prevent players from making money before college."
McEvoy: "In the Fall of 2002, you made your debut at No. 1 singles. How did it feel?"
Edelstein: "After sitting a year, then having the pressure of playing your first match at the university, it was so scary. My body was shaking and out of control. I was so scared. I remember Coach Dixon just saying, 'It doesn't matter what happens. It's your first match.' It was just another barrier I had to go over."
McEvoy: "It was probably very difficult for you to move to a new country with a new coach and teammates. How did you deal with the adjustment?"
Edelstein: "It was a very hard decision leaving Israel. But, if you have a chance in life you should use it. You don't get the opportunity to do what you love to do and study. I left everything and everyone I knew, but with time it got better, especially rooming with one of my teammates."
McEvoy: "What do you perceive as your best attribute, and what areas do you need to work on more?"
Edelstein: "I think I move well on the court, but I think I need to improve my technique and shots."
McEvoy: "How do your coaches (Dixon and assistant coach Celeste Frey) compare?"
Edelstein: "Each coach has a different mentality. Both of my coaches gave us different attributes of themselves, physically and mentally. Not being able to play last year strengthened my relationship with Judy (Dixon)."
McEvoy: "Who is your favorite tennis player? Is there anyone's game you try to emulate?"
Edelstein: "I like to see everyone play. I especially like Martina Hingis and the William's (Venus and Serena) sisters."
McEvoy: "Do you feel that being a student-athlete at UMass has helped you grow as a person?"
Edelstein: "Coming here makes you grow up. You have more responsibility than other students. Especially with the budget cuts, there is more pressure for better results."
McEvoy: "Do you have any future plans in mind?"
"I want to take a half a year off after graduation to travel because I never had a chance after Army service. I would also like to stay in the United States for a few years to work. I will eventually move back to Israel, where I plan to live the rest of my life."
McEvoy: "Thank you for your time and good luck with your season."
Full Name: Sasha Edelstein
Age/Year: 22/ Sophomore
Position: No. 1 singles
Famous Quote: "If you want to be good, you must put the time".
Coach Judy Dixon's remarks: "Sasha doesn't know any other way than to try 110 percent. She loves to play and it shows."
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