Tennis / Smashnova Sidelined for Canada Clash

Obziler preferred over FED Cup record holder for World Group II singles.

Israel's Fed Cup team faces Canada in a best of five World Group II, first round tie beginning tomorrow night in Kamloops, British Colombia.

Shahar Peer and Tzipi Obziler will play the singles on the fast paced carpet surface.

Peer is the highest ranked player at the event, while Obziler was preferred by Israel coach Oded Yaacov over Fed Cup record holder Anna Smashnova who has appeared in only two tournaments in her retirement season. Teenager Julia Glushko completes the Israeli squad.

Smashnova has played 73 Fed Cup matches, more than any other player in the world. She led Israel to two Europe/Africa Zone playoffs at the start of the decade, but it was only when Peer broke on to the senior circuit and Obziler came back from retirement that Israel managed to advance to World Group II which includes teams 9-16 in the world.

On paper at least, Israel is the favorite for the encounter. Peer is ranked 16 in the world and Obziler is 92, while Canada's lead singles player Aleksandra Wozniak is 106 and Canada's No. 2 Stephanie Dubois is 134 in the world. Marie-Eve Pelletier, ranked 199 in the world, and Valerie Tetreault, ranked 263, complete the Canadian team.

The Canadians have never lost on their indoor carpet surface, but Israel knows that it has a perhaps one-off opportunity to be promoted to World Group I and gain a comfortable home draw in a tie that would be the perfect setting to bid farewell to Smashnova.

Meanwhile, sixth seeds Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich were defeated in the second round of the men's doubles at the Monte Carlo Masters when they lost 6-4, 3-6, 13-15 to Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet of France yesterday.