Israel's Shahar Peer Wins Thai Tennis Tourney

"I'm really happy. I've waited a long time to win a tournament," Shahar Peer told Haaretz after winning her first career title yesterday. Peer claimed the Pattaya Open in Thailand, downing Croatia's Jelena Kostanic 6-3, 6-1.

The 18-year-old Israeli, recently drafted into the Israel Defense Forces, did not drop a set the entire week, and after a hesitant start in yesterday's final, she took the upper hand and never let go against an opponent who failed to repeat the consistency that had taken her to the final.

"I started off badly and I was down 3-0, but somehow I fought back and from there I was in control all the way," said the 2004 Australian Open junior champion.

Peer, who pocketed $25,000 for the win and will climb from No. 45 in the world to around No. 35, said that for the moment she was not thinking about her world ranking, but wanted to concentrate on improving her game.

"I want to enjoy matches and improve everything in my game. I want to become one of the leaders on the tour in two to three years," Peer said.