Grand Slam Pro Am benefits Maccabi Canada
The Grand Slam Pro Am Charity Tennis Tournament, held at the Aviva Centre in Toronto, is unique among charitable events. Since 2008, the Grand Slam Pro Am charity tennis tournament has worked and supported a variety of organizations on local, national and international stages. The nature of the event pairs up pro tennis players with amateur players, who then compete in a day of matches. The main goal of this yearly event was to raise money for 3 charitable organizations: Maccabi Canada, Second Harvest and Tennis Canada.
There was attendance of both former and future Maccabiah tennis athletes at the event, which included Michael Kalles and Darren Rabie. For David Granovsky, the tournament director of the event, Maccabi Canada is an essential organization to support. “I played in the Maccabiah Games twice and I think it is extremely important to bring these athletes to Israel in order for them to see what a great country it is,” he said.
Former top 20 ATP ranked players, Amos Mansdorf and Wayne Ferreira also participated in the event with the same mindset of giving back to the community, by supporting these organizations. Mansdorf, a 1985 Maccabi gold medallist and formerly ranked number 18 in the world, says “this event helps Jewish people establish a connection to Israel, by supporting Maccabi Canada. I think the Maccabi organization does a great job of bringing Jewish athletes together from all over the world and giving them the Israeli experience,” he said. “They use sports in a very interesting way to bring the Jewish communities around the world closer to Israel, and I think that is a very worthy cause.”
These fundraisers are extremely important for people who want to participate in the games, but are struggling financially, according to the athletes. Robert Schacter, one of the amateurs at the event, says giving back to these people was the main reason why he came. “It is a necessity and an obligation to give back to the community,” he said. “It is something we have to instill in our children so it moves to the next generation.”
Seeing that the 2017 games is just around the corner, events like this help determine the attendance, and hence, the overall experience of the games, according to Maccabiah athletes.
“If this is going to be a true world Maccabiah Games, we need to be able to raise funds to bring athletes from developing countries,” said Darren Rabie, an athlete who hopes to participate in the 2017 games. “We don’t want a Maccabiah Games where there are only five countries; we want to see people from all over the world, and that is what these events are for.”
One of the pros of the event, Karl Hale, says that coming back and playing at this event has always been a pleasure of his. “Tennis is something we are all passionate about so it is a great feeling to give back” he said.