The Israel tennis world was thrown into deep mourning Friday with the news that Israel Tennis Association president Freddie Krivine had passed away at the age of 84.
"All Anna's success is Freddie's success!" declared Alex, the father of Anna Shmashnova, Israel's top woman tennis player, at the funeral of Freddie Krivine in Caesarea on Friday. "Without him, her success would never have happened."
"You are a father to us; we will never forget you, and all you have done for Fureidis and Jisr a-Zarka," added Na'im Fahamna of the Galilee village of Fureidis.
Their emotional remarks in a sense summed up the achievements of Freddie Krivine, who played a major role in bringing tennis to Jewish and Arab children all over Israel. A founder member of the small group that was to build 14 tennis centers from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat, Krivine was instrumental in raising the standard of the game throughout the country and putting Israel on the world tennis map.
Shmashnova, Shlomo Glickstein, Amos Mansdorf, Shahar Perkis, Paulina Pesachov, Tzippi Obziler, and Shahar Pe'er are only some of the players assisted, and personally befriended, by Krivine.
Born in Harrogate, England, in 1920, and educated in England and France, Krivine attended Pardes Hannah agricultural college in 1936, learning Hebrew and establishing a strong link to the country. Returning to Britain with the outbreak of World War II, Krivine served in the Household Cavalry, before being invalided out in 1944. In 1946, he married Shelagh Berger and became a successful businessman.
A keen amateur tennis player, Krivine founded the Israel Tennis Centers in 1975 together with five other enthusiasts from the United States and South Africa. Krivine was always the quintessential charming English gentlemen, but he was also a determined fund-raiser and administrator. He was non-playing captain of Israel's Federation Cup team, traveling around the world with the young women, and many of Israel's leading players also enjoyed his and Shelagh's generous hospitality at Gillham's, their Surrey home, when competing in tournaments in the United Kingdom.
Immigrating to Israel in 1984, Krivine took personal charge of women's tennis and was appointed director of Israel Women's Tennis the following year. In 1992, he was elected president of the Israel Tennis Association.
In 1998, he established a Jewish-Arab committee to promote tennis among Israeli Arabs. Building a tennis center in the coastal town of Jisr a-Zarka, Krivine mobilized a number of Israeli Arab personalities, including former soccer international Rifat Turk, to carry his message to Israel's Arab community.
After the outbreak of violence in September 2000, Krivine demonstrated the courage and iron will behind his affable image. Many supporters suggested postponing activities, but he insisted that his Coexistence Project was more important than ever. Ordering his trainers to remain at their posts, Krivine went into the Arab towns and villages to meet with local officials to ensure the continuation of the project. Today more than 1,000 children from nine Arab communities play with young Jewish tennis players in Caesarea, Jisr a-Zarka, Fureidis, Or Akiva, Tiberias and Kafr Kana.
Krivine is survived by his daughter, Jane, who will continue directing the Coexistence Project, his son, John, a teacher who lives in Sde Boker in the Negev, and five grandchildren.