Shahar Peer rebukes protester's claims

BY DAVID LONG
Last updated 16:55 08/01/2010

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Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer took a swipe at John Minto before leaving the ASB Classic in Auckland today.

Peer lost 6-4 7-5 to Yanina Wickmayer from Belgium in one of the tightest matches of the tournament and afterwards broke her silence about Minto, the spokesman for Global Peace and Justice Auckland, who have held protests outside her matches for the past four days.

Earlier in the week Minto said that the protests in Auckland against her last year played a factor in the United Arab Emirates deciding not to give her a visa to play in Dubai a month later, but Peer hit out at Minto's comments.

"The guy who was doing all the protest against me said that because of him last year I didn't get into Dubai, which is not right," Peer said.

"Because the same day he was saying that I got a visa for this year's Dubai tournament.

"So he has nothing do to with them denying me last year.

"Unfortunately I have to deal with politics because of where I come from, it's not fair because I have nothing to do with politics, I'm only a tennis player who wants to enjoy the tour like the other players."

Despite all the negative attention towards her, Peer says she wants to come back to the ASB Classic next year.

"I hope so," she said. "I really enjoy being here it's a nice tournament, the people are nice and Brenda (Perry, tournament director) takes care of us."

The protesters were out again for this semifinal match, but the two people using loud hailers were arrested early in the match meaning the protests could barely be heard inside ASB Tennis Centre.

"I guess it wasn't loud enough for me to play good because the other days it was very loud and I won the matches," joked Peer.

"For the week it's been again and again asking about it and again hearing them calling me to go out of the tournament.

"It's not a nice feeling and it's not comfortable, but I'm really proud of myself at how I've handled it this week.

"I'm only 22 and to get those calls against me isn't nice, but I think I handled it pretty good.

"Unfortunately I need to deal not only with the players, but also the politics stuff," she added.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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