For Henri, tennis and the Israel Tennis Centers were there to turn his life around. Today, at age 14, Henri lives in the Dormitory Academy at the ITC – Ramat Hasharon, studies at a local school, feels at home and dreams of a successful future in tennis which he loves so dearly.
Henri immigrated to Israel from his native France. He didn’t speak a word of Hebrew and his parents stayed in France until their divorce. At that point, his mother immigrated to Israel to reunite the family. Henri’s father stayed in France and has not been to Israel to see him.
“It was very difficult for me in the beginning when I arrived in Israel. I was without my mom and dad, I didn’t speak the language and my sister was the one who looked after me”, said Henri. “I struggled at school, I wasn’t a good student and the language remained a problem. It wasn’t until I found the ITC that things started getting better for me. The more I played the better I got. After three years, I heard about the dormitory in Ramat Hasharon and I thought moving there would be very beneficial. I came for many tests, I was accepted and moved there at the age of 13. Since then, I have not stopped improving my tennis and my grades in school.”
The manager of the dormitory academy, Udi Dahan, beams with pride when he talks about Henri. “When Henri first arrived in Ramat Hasharon, he had many difficulties in school and he was a troublemaker,” Udi said. “This year, his behavior, his tennis and his grades at school have all improved so much. I really believe that the discipline he has learned from living in the dormitory and from playing competitive tennis has helped him a great deal to gain the focus needed to succeed.”
Henri agrees. “Tennis and the ITC are my life. Without it, I would have nothing to do and no goals in my life. Udi Dahan, the manager of the dormitory and my coach Eli Sayag are like a fathers to me. My goal is to be a great tennis player and to stay in tennis, because this sport is my whole life. Thanks to the ITC – Ramat Hasharon, I will succeed.”