Israeli tennis player Jonathan Erlich (AP/J Pat Carter)

An Israeli tennis player and his Pakistani partner won an important match, sending a message of peace.   

Israel’s Jonathan Ehrlich on Sunday won his first double tournament in two years when,together with his Pakistani partner Aisam Ul Haq Qureshi, he beat Marcus Daniell of New Zealand and Marcelo Demoliner of Brazil 6-3, 7-6 in the finals of the ATP Chengdu Open in China.

“Playing with Qureshi proves that it doesn’t matter what your religion is. What matters is that you have mutual respect,” Erlich said.

The ATP is the governing body of the men’s professional tennis circuits – the ATP World Tour, the ATP Challenger Tour and the ATP Champions Tour.

The win was the 40-year-old’s first tournament triumph since taking the doubles in Shenzen two years ago. Erlich now stands on 19 career titles; for Qureshi, 37, the win was his fifth doubles title of the year, all achieved with different partners.

Prior to the match, Qureshi told the ATP website that he hopes playing with an Israeli will send a positive message to people in their countries and around the world.

This is not the first time Qureshi has made headlines for playing with an Israeli. In 2002, he partnered another Israeli, Amir Hadad at Wimbledon.

“I think winning a title with Jonathan would be very, very special,” Qureshi said. “The message we send or the people get from it obviously is about friendship and about peace and I hope we can change or influence a few people’s lives… the message people can get, hopefully the positive one, is going to be a bonus [in addition to the results] for both of us.”

By: TPS and United with Israel Staff