About Gabriel Harmat
Growing up in Israel, Gabe has developed a strong passion for sports at a very young age. He was already enrolled in gymnastics at the age of five and by the time he turned eight he had won his first junior competition in Tel Aviv. This was just the beginning of involvement in a long list of athletic activities, paving the way to multiple accomplishments in basketball, track and field (high school), volleyball (air force team), soccer, martial arts, table tennis and tennis. After representing Israel in Germany as a junior in tennis team competition (1969) Gabe had enlisted in the Israeli military and his tennis ambitions were put on hold for three years. After completing his military duty he had his priority set on playing tennis tournaments in the U.S.A. and just when he was ready to embark on this journey the 1973 Yom Kippur war broke out. As a reservist Gabe was activated immediately and his tennis adventure was delayed once again. The loss of some of his best buddies in the war left Gabe with a deep emotional scar and it took a long time before tennis regained his full attention. Six months later, heavy hearted, armed with an airline ticket, $200 and a single phone number, Gabe made it to the U.S. and a whole new chapter in his life was about to begin.
Eventually, Gabe had settled down in Los Angeles, Southern California, and continued pursuing his involvement in tennis. After playing the circuit in the U.S. Gabe had traveled to France and participated in several pro tournaments- Lyon, Strasburg, Charelleville and a few others, with some good results, however the prize money and the generosity of the French tennis federation (hospitality, transportation) were not sufficient to continue this uphill endeavor.
This was a strong wake-up call and after almost running out of funds, coaching became the only responsible alternative. Gabe obtained certification by the U.S.P.T.A. (Elite) and the P.T.R. (PRO) and during the following forty years has provided his expertise in tennis institutions and clubs such as Braemar C.C. Porter Valley C.C., Pacific T.C., Justice tennis academy, The Merchant of tennis (Beverly Hills) and several high schools.
The combination of his devotion, professionalism, love of the sport and deep caring for children is a reflection on numerous accomplishments. Here are some of his teaching highlights:
Instructed in numerous tennis camps along side many of the sport’s top professionals, among them Rod Laver (Adidas tennis camp, Ervine). Coached many U.S. nationally ranked juniors, college and professional players. Some of his most notable students were: Blake Spone (Columbia University), Mark Copeland (U.C.L.A.), Dan Dan (China’s Federation cup player), Stacy Martin(French open, all American), Harold Hecht (Berkley University), Mike Fedida (winner of Ojai Cellegiate), Nir Wellgreen (Top 200 A.T.P.). Dennis Mkratchian (ranked 2nd U.S. boys 16th , U.C.L.A.)
Gabe has tutored many celebrities as well. Some called him “the coach of Hollywood” to mention a few: Johnny Carson, Malcolm McDowell, Perry Como, Don Ford (Lakers), Walter Patton, David Joliffe,Maurice White (Earth, Wind & Fire), Olsen sisters, Paul Sorvino and Many more.
In the years 2003 and 2007 Gabe was the recipient of the U.S.P.T.A. “pro of the year award” for the San Fernando Valley and the Los Angeles districts.
Keeping in shape throughout the years came handy when Gabe turned 35 and began competing in the senior tour. He entered competition in four continents and had some outstanding achievements:
1983—Won Israel’s National Team Cup for Maccabi Tel Aviv (along side Shlomo Glikstein and Ronny Goldman).
1986-1995— Winner of Israel’s men’s 35 and over national championships.
1996— Winner of Israel’s national men’s 45 and over championship
1987— Finalist of Pacific South West Championships (men’s 35’s), New Port Beach, CA
1988— Semi finalist of I.T.F. world championships (men’s 35’s) Huntington Beach Ca.
1988— Ranked 5th on the I.T.F. world ranking list. (men’s 35′s)
1988— Ranked 2 in So. Cal. (men’s 35’s)
1988— Reached round 16 in the I.T.F. world championship (men’s 35’s), Perth, Australia.
1989— Represented Israel in Italia Cup competition (Team competition for men over 35, along side Steve Willinger, Meinz, Germany) finishing 7th in the world.
1989— Gold medalist in Maccabia Games (men’s 35’s singles) and Bronze medalist in doubles (partnering with Ronny Goldman).
1992— Reached round sixteen in I.T.F. world championship (men’s 35’s), Viña Del Mar, Chile.
1992— Ranked 2 in So. Cal. (men’s 40 and over).
1992— Winner of grand prix masters championship (men 40′s) So. Cal. Rancho Bernardo Inn.
1994— Reached quarter finals in U.S. national grass court championship (men’s 40’s).
1995— Was doubles semi finalist of I.T.F. world championship and reached round of 16 in singles, Palermo, Sicily.
1996— Ranked top player in So. Cal. And winner of “Sectionals” (men’s 45’s).
Gabe has several notable results during his competitive days by wins over: Shlomo Glikstein (former top 20 in the world) — in doubles, quarter finals, International tournament in Tel Aviv, partnering with Israel junior champ at that time- Tommy Frisher, Tom Leonard (former top 20 in the world) in So. Cal. Sectionals, Max Wunschig (number 1 German player and former A.T.P. top 70) in world I.T.F. championship, Long Beach, California, wins in men’s 35’s competition over number 1 players from Ireland, Portugal, Netherlands, Indonesia, Germany and Belgium.
The accumulated experience of years of competing and coaching is evident in Gabe’s unique approach to teaching from grass roots level to highly skilled players. His continuous development of tennis enthusiasts and accomplished competitors is an ongoing contribution to tennis. He is a strong ambassador to the sport by passionately promoting it and introducing it as “The sport for life.”