- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 24, 2011

Shahar Peer joked, when asked how she prepares for the hardcourt season, that she makes sure she doesn’t win enough matches. The 24-year-old last competed at Wimbledon, where she entered as the No. 22 seed but lost in the first round to unseeded Russian Ksenia Pervak.

But Peer, as the highest-ranked player at this week’s Citi Open in College Park, expects better results for the rest of the summer.

“I didn’t have a very good last few months, but I had a change of coach and I’ve been working on things, and now things are beginning to get together,” she said. “Now, in practices, I feel much better. I grew up on hard courts, so I really like hard courts, obviously. But last year, I did really well in the clay season. I don’t want to choose where I do well, but after not doing very well the last few months, I’m really looking forward to the summer to do very well.”

The Citi Open, one of only three Women’s Tennis Association international-level events to be held in the United States, features 15 top-100 players from around the world. Peer, who has five career WTA titles, is ranked No. 24, down from No. 11 earlier this year.

No Israeli player has climbed higher than No. 11 in the rankings, and Peer is conscious of the impact she has made on the history of tennis in her country.

“There have always been good players coming from Israel,” Peer said. “[I have] the best ranking ever. From the way I hear from people, the support, the kids, how people look at me and how they respond to me in the street, it’s a big thing. They really appreciate who I am, how I achieve things and how I handle tournaments and how I handle a lot of things.

“I’m trying, thanks to my parents and my coach that taught me this - try to be humble … keep respecting people, and keep trying to be a role model for people.”

Peer never has played a tournament in the Washington area, but she called America her second-favorite country after Israel. After the Citi Open, she will compete in Toronto and Cincinnati, taking a week off before the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 29.

“I [will do] everything to make sure I come as fresh as possible to the Open and try to play as many matches as possible,” Peer said. “Obviously, you cannot plan anything ahead, but that’s my hope - to play a lot of matches, to do well and to get into rhythm of matches.”

Peer has not competed since Wimbledon, taking time off to attend her brother’s wedding. Since arriving in Washington on July 11, she has focused on returning to competition form, altering the motion of her serve in an attempt to make it more consistent.

“I’ve been working,” she said. “I did a lot of fitness - that’s the time to do fitness. I did a lot of time on the court, different shots, getting shots together, moving well, being aggressive, getting the groove back.”



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