The Israeli tennis team lost the final two singles matches in its David Cup match in Antwerp, Belgium, on Sunday, dashing hopes that it would secure its place in the tournament’s elite World Group. The Sunday matches, originally set for Saturday, had been postponed at the request of the Israeli players so that they would not be forced to play on Yom Kippur.
Playing against home team Belgium, Israel’s Dudi Sela, ranked 85 in the world in singles play, was defeated 3 sets to 1 (7-5, 3-6, 6-0, 6-4) by Ruben Bemelmans, ranked 155; Amir Weintraub, ranked 184, went down in straight sets (6-2, 6-2, 6-2) to Steve Darcis, ranked 165.
In the previous matches, played on Thursday and Friday, the Israelis won two out of three, including a dramatic five-set victory by Weintraub over Bemelmans in Thursday’s second singles match, and so entered Sunday’s games with an advantage, which they were unable to capitalize on. Having failed to retain its automatic world group slot, the team will move to the regional tier on Wednesday, where it will face an opponent determined by a lottery from among the European countries in contention.
The Israel Tennis Association was fined more than $13,000 for moving the matches to Sunday and refusing to play on Yom Kippur.
The Belgian Tennis Association turned down Israel’s request to postpone the game, but the International Tennis Federation, which sponsors the Davis Cup, intervened and changed the date of the match to September 15, while ordering the Israeli national team to pay the Belgian team for the inconvenience of adding a day to the tournament.
JTA contributed to this report.