Former Wimbledon champion Angela Buxton has tipped Israeli wonder kid Yshai Oliel for glory.

Having won the prestigious Junior Orange Bowl in Florida earlier this year, Oliel, 15, missed out on qualification for the main draw of the Junior Boys Singles at Wimbledon in the final round. But the youngster from Ramle enjoyed success in the doubles, where he and partner Yibing Wu reached the second round.

Speaking about the young prodigy, Angela Buxton said: “Yshai has a very bright future. I’ve been following him for the past three years and he’s got everything. He’s left-handed, which in my opinion gives him a slight advantage, and is naturally very talented. He’s got an extremely good mentality.

“He’s very lucky to have a high profile sponsor and has now played on the grass at Wimbledon so returning next year will be no big deal.”

Buxton, who now works as a tennis consultant, described Oliel as having “a good all-round game”. Asked which player she compared him to, she replied: “Roger Federer, as he doesn’t force or muscle the ball.”

The lanky Oliel is instantly recognisable owing to his long, flowing shoulder-length hair. He has risen to fame since being taken under the wing of David Coffer — a 67-year-old businessman with a passion for Israeli tennis.

Oliel is one of several members of The David Squad – an elite training organisation dedicated to developing Israeli tennis players of the highest international standards, which is named after King David.

Coffer established the group in 2005 and he treats the starlets, aged 12 to 16, as extended members of his family. Coffer himself, the son of Moroccan Jews, is the chairman of a London real-estate advisory firm which also includes restaurants and bars.

He said: “I reckon I have helped fund around 100 children, of which Oliel is just one — and probably the best — so far.”
Coffer’s son Adam works closely with the players and he believes the Israeli teenager has the weapons to succeed at the top level. “Novak Djokovic has absolutely changed the image of all Serbians over the last few years. Yshai could well do the same for Israel,” he said.

“People seem to warm to Yshai — his smile, his great talent and his friendly manner both on and off court. He wins friends easily. So we are here to simply find talent and nurture it.”

As for the player himself, Oliel is doing his best to keep his feet on the ground. “Wimbledon is the best tournament in the world and it is a great honour for me to be here with the best players in the world,” said Oliel. “I love the atmosphere and the quality of the courts and hope to come back next year and for many more years.

“Rafa Nadal is my role model. He is a fighter and never gives up. I want to be the same. I’m prepared to work hard and step by step to improve and become a top player.”
Laura Stadler contributed to this story