The Canadian Jeiwsh News

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Member Login:

Why tennis pro thanks the Jewish community

Tags: Sports Jewish maccabiah games Sharon Fichman tennis
Sharon Fichman is grateful for support

For as long as I can remember, tennis has been a significant part of my life. 

My family immigrated to Toronto from Israel in the late 1980s, shortly before I was born, and have lived within walking distance of a tennis club ever since. That’s why it came as no surprise that my brother and I were introduced to the sport of tennis early on. 

Growing up in an active household was a driving factor in my initial introduction to athletics from a young age. Though I dabbled in a number of different sports, such as gymnastics, figure skating, soccer and cross country, it was almost immediate that tennis was the most natural to me. 

I first began playing at a local tennis club near my home in Forest Hill at the age of five. Though both of my parents have pursued careers in engineering, my father nuclear engineering and my mother computer engineering, they were both avid tennis players throughout their lives. My father grew up playing tennis at a semi-professional level and my mother had a passion for the sport, though she only played recreationally. Being blessed with the good fortune of having knowledgeable parents with a tennis background allowed me to excel at a rapid pace. My progress seemed almost surreal at the time and I became known in the local tennis community almost instantaneously after winning my first tennis tournament at six years old. 

I had a very successful junior career before my professional career began in 2009. I reached the No. 5 ranking in the world at the age of 15 as well as winning two Junior Grand Slam doubles titles and reaching the singles quarter-finals at the Junior Australian and U.S. Open in the same year. In addition to my success on the international junior tour, I represented Canada at the 2005 Maccabiah Games in Israel at the age of 14. I won three medals for Canada, among them was a gold in the Women’s Singles Open event, making me the youngest player in Maccabiah history to ever win a gold medal in an open event. 

Shortly after my performance at the 2005 Maccabiah Games, the York Racquets Club in Toronto offered me the opportunity to use their facilities as my new training base. The York Racquets club, known for its predominantly Jewish membership, has since been infinitely supportive of my tennis career and has played a significant role in what I have achieved so far in my career today; my career high singles ranking of No. 77 in the world and my current and career high doubles ranking of No. 51 in the world. This has made me Canada’s current No. 2 ranked professional female singles player and No. 1 ranked professional female doubles player. 

As well as being Jewish, I share dual citizenship with Israel. This was my initial reason to visit Israel for the first time, but the country itself quickly became my incentive for returning. I have since made many memories in Israel, both professionally and personally. The most monumental memory of my tennis career being my first professional singles title in Ashkelon at the age of 14. 

Being Jewish in the world of professional sports has opened my eyes to experiences I otherwise would have never known. Events such as being the flag bearer for Canada at the Maccabiah Games in 2005 and having an abundance of support from cheering fans at almost every competition around the world has had a significant impact on my personal and professional life. It is experiences like these that have helped shape who I am and [have given me the] opportunities I have had to pursue and persevere in sports and in life. 

Though I’ve been fortunate to have always had support from my family, I can truly say that without the support I have received from the Jewish community, both at home and internationally, the resources needed to pursue my goal of becoming a professional athlete may not have been attainable. For that, I am forever grateful.

© 2015 - CJNEWS.COM, all rights reserved.