Ronen was introduced to tennis at the age of 6 and quickly rose to become Israel’s #3 ranked player in his age group. After a brief hiatus from the game, he returned to the sport when the ITC – Ashkelon opened in 1980 and once again became the #3 ranked player in Israel in the under 18 year old age group.
“It wasn’t easy coming from a single parent household, and the ITC was a very safe and nurturing place for me to be as a child. It became a second home for me; I found myself spending more time at the center than anywhere else.”
Following his military obligation as a tank commander, Ronen coached for one year at the ITC – Ashkelon before moving to Jerusalem as coach for a number of aspiring tennis stars, including future Australian Grand Slam Champion Andy Ram. He was offered a job at the prestigious Wingate Institute, and then in 2001 moved to the ITC – Ramat Hasharon where he has been ever since.
“I consider it a privilege to have had the opportunity to coach so many of our most successful young players over the years as well as being Israel’s Davis Cup Coach for the past 6 years. The life skills that I learned at the ITC growing up were so essential in my becoming who I am today. Values like dedication, commitment and leadership are all things that I’ve tried to instill in everyone I’ve come in contact with.”
That contact took a significant leap forward in 2014 when Ronen was asked to travel to South Africa to help coach the children at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Academy in Soweto. It proved to be the best experience of his life.
“Being there and making new friends really drove home for me the importance of what we teach at the Israel Tennis Centers. The three most important goals are giving underprivileged children a chance to succeed in life, bringing together kids from different backgrounds and helping Israel strengthen its international relations around the globe.”
That last point is of paramount importance to Ronen moving forward. He would like to see opportunities like his visit to South Africa (and their return to Israel in 2015) be replicated in other countries where children in underserved communities can learn to succeed on the court and in life. As Ronen sees it, “Spreading the values of the ITC is what our mission is all about.”