Yoni Yair

“Coming to the Israel Tennis Centers as a child was like being part of a unique family. From day one this incredible organization taught me important values that went way beyond tennis. Life lessons like having a goal, working hard, being dedicated and thinking positive were all things that not only helped me to excel on the tennis court, but more important, in school.”

Yoni started playing tennis at the age of 6 and was one of the first groups to train at the ITC – Ramat Hasharon. His dream was to be a competitive player, and being part of the ITC’s High Performance Program was a big step in that direction. “It made me feel like being in an elite unit of the IDF. It was really inspiring to be part of something so special.”

At the age of 15 Yoni was fortunate enough to realize that he could accomplish much more as a coach than as a player, and even before starting his military obligation, he became the youngest Assistant Coach at the ITC – Ramat Hasharon. He recalled huge numbers of children who descended on the center each summer, including one youngster with particular promise, current Israel Tennis Centers CEO Ari Strasberg.

After the Army Yoni returned to coaching, and especially enjoyed the healthy competition among his colleagues to find and train the next Israeli champion. He also remembers how great it was for the center to host ATP tournaments and the positive impression it had on the children who attended. “I met so many coaches and mentors who became important role models for me and other young people. They have remained friends for life.”

He soon became Head Coach of the ITC’s prestigious Achievement Program at Ramat Hasharon, in charge of all activities at the center. Yoni’s many accomplishments included hosting the first Olympics at the center in honor of a slain IDF soldier. At the height of his tenure at the center he was supervising 15 coaches who were training over 500 children. Coaching for Yoni has been, first and foremost, all about education beyond tennis skills to prepare children for the future by providing them important values through the sport of tennis.

In 2005 Yoni came to Florida to serve as the Israel Tennis Centers Foundation Israeli ambassador and generate support for future generations of ITC children. In that role he has been instrumental in helping to raise millions of dollars for the ITC and the critically important programs aimed at empowering Israel’s children… beyond tennis. To this day Yoni remains true to his principles of wanting to help the young people of Israel achieve to the best of their abilities. And he knows that this help will come from the generosity of the ITC donors. “My work is all about building connections between these donors and our kids and staff in Israel. My goal is to help identify even more communities here in the US willing to support our mission. It touches my heart to see the passion of our donors for the children of Israel. I first experienced it when I came here for the first time in 2004, and I continue to feel it year in and year out as I visit more communities around the country.

2004 Team Picture-yoni-yair“We are doing wonderful work. I see it in the smiles of every child that comes here as part of the ITC family. The ITC is a celebration of diversity in which everyone has an equal opportunity to be part of our remarkable family, regardless of their background or socio-economic situation.”