LONG BEACH, January 17, 2018
Former World No. 525 Daniel Cukierman, who battled through the qualifying to reach the quarterfinals at last week’s $25,000 Long Beach Pro Futures Tournament Presented by the Southern California Tennis Association, is fighting to climb up back the rankings.
The 22-year-old, who lost to Kaichi Uchida in the stage of the final eight, spent the past three years in the Israeli Army, something every Israeli male is required to do. He said he was able to play a limited tournament schedule and train. He was released from his duties last March, but the government did not allow him to play tournaments for eight months after he left the Army.
“I was in a special program for athletes in the Army, so it wasn’t that bad,” said Cukierman, who also took college visits to Wake Forest, Virginia, Ohio State, and TCU. “I had gotten up to No. 525 in the world rankings, but lost all of my points with the layoff.”
He added: “I chose to go to college in case the tennis doesn’t work out. I chose University of Southern California (USC) because of the amazing coaches and the entire program, which is one of the best in the country, was such a good fit for me.”
Cukierman said he would like to attend USC for all four years, unless he goes on a run like former TCU star Cameron Norrie, who left college tennis a year early and has climbed as high as No. 110 in the world.
Cukierman played mostly local events growing up and said he “wasn’t a very good junior.” It wasn’t until he turned 18 and started training with Israeli tennis great Amos Mansdorf, who reached as high as No. 18 in the world, when his game took off. Cukierman has lifted two doubles trophies on the ITF Pro Circuit in his career so far.