Canadian Jewish tennis player Denis Shapovalov has said he’s “ashamed and embarrassed” after being disqualified for hitting the ball at the umpire during his country’s Davis Cup tie with GB over the weekend.
The seventeen-year-old was born in Tel Aviv, to Russian-Jewish parents and moved to Canada prior to his first birthday. Explaining why they left Israel, his mother, Tessa, who was a former top tennis player in the Soviet Union, said: “I immigrated to Israel because I am Jewish. Although my husband Viktor (Denis’s father) is Greek Orthodox, he was eager to go to Israel as well. I taught and played tennis while we were in Israel, we liked Tel Aviv, but felt it was dangerous there for the boys, so we left for Toronto in 1999.”
Apologising for the incident on Sunday night, which came in the fifth and final rubber of the match, Shapovalov was two sets down and 2-1 behind in the third. He said: “I would just like to begin with apologising to that referee and to all ITF officials, and to be honest all officials.
“I went back and spoke to the referee after and apologised directly to him, luckily he was ok. Obviously it was just unacceptable behaviour from me and to be honest, I just feel incredibly ashamed and embarrassed and I just feel awful for letting my team down, my country down, for acting in a way that I would never want to act.”
“I can promise that’s the last time I will do anything like that, I’m going to learn from this and I am going to try and move past it. I was very lucky that the referee was okay. I think it was just unacceptable from me and I’ll try to move past it.”
Under the rules of the International Tennis Federation, Canada was disqualified, losing the match and the tie. Later on Monday, Shapovalov was fined $7,000 (£5,600). He must pay $2,000 for the default and $5,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct, though he escaped the maximum $10,000 penalty as it was not deemed intentional.