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Hall of Fame

Assyrian Sports Hall of Fame - Tennis


An Assyrian



Brief History

Andrew was born in Khatoun Camp in 1928, on the Tigris bank, close to Hinaidi, to Khatoun Setrakian and Yosip Shamasha Sulaiman. He was raised in Khatoun Camp and in Maharatha Lines and grew up and was married in Habbaniya, where he also spent a goodly part of his life.
Andrew was born in Khatoun Camp in 1928, on the Tigris bank, close to Hinaidi, to Khatoun Setrakian and Yosip Shamasha Sulaiman. He was raised in Khatoun Camp and in Maharatha Lines and grew up and was married in Habbaniya, where he also spent a goodly part of his life.
Andrew studied at Raabi Espania's and Raabi Yacoub's schools. After finishing the sixth primary grade, he started working in 1943 at the young age of 15. During his 14 years of civil service for the Royal Air Force (R.A.F.) he was employed in various clerical positions, ending as a Grade I clerk. He derived much experience from his work and improved his English language skills by enrolling in two composition courses through correspondence from England.

In 1948, at age 20, Andrew Simon married Sophia(Sabikky), daughter of Oney Zaia and Surma Elisha, in the Civil Cantonment (C. C.) Habbaniya. The couple were blessed with five daughters and a son.
Andrew Simon, as well as his tennis partner William Daniel, were once offered secure, well-paying positions and family accommodation at "staff" level by the Basra Port Authority if only they would play tennis for their club. They accepted the offer at an interview in Basra, but changed their minds on returning to Habbaniya!.
Like all good sportsmen, Andrew Simon, got involved in sports at a very young age. He began playing tennis and other sports when he was seven or eight. Mr. Mikhael Pius, the author of this biography says "I remember this personally, for at the time he and I were playmates and our homes were in the same bungalow in Maharatha Lines camp. We used to play tennis and other games together, with two other companions, behind our bungalow. We each had an old racket and we had scratched a 'tennis court' on the ground and had stretched a strong string between two sticks stuck in the ground for a net".
Andrew was a member of the Assyrian Employees Club from 1946 to 1957 and serving as its secretary for three years , he also played for its hockey team and was, for a while, on its soccer team. He was one of the very best on the C. C. hockey team, leading all in scoring power!
In 1957, Andrew Simon left Habbaniya and moved with his family and settled in Dora, a township southeast of Baghdad, where several hundred Assyrian families lived. Andrew lived there and worked for various commercial firms in Baghdad during the next 25 years.
While in Baghdad, Andrew was associated with the Assyrian Sports Club and in whose name he and and his friend and tennis partner William Daniel won two national doubles championships in 1955 and 1956. The two, along with a few other Habbaniya Assyrians, also played some friendly hockey matches for the club against the Iraqi Army and Air Force teams. Andrew also played in various local tennis tournaments and was a member of the Dora Club from 1960 to 1967.
Andrew later picked up a sturdy hockey stick along the way and within the next 12 or 15 years, he became a tennis champion as well as a "wizard" on the hockey field, harvesting a crop of 65 silver cups, 22 silver medals and 10 silver jugs for trophies during his sports career! He also developed some skill in soccer, table tennis, volleyball and swimming.
In 1962 Andrew and his friend and tennis partner William were selected, along with two Arabs, to represent Iraq on a tennis tour to Egypt and Lebanon. But later, Andrew and one of the two Arabs were dropped and William was partnered with another Arab.
In 1963 Andrew's friend and tennis partner William was again selected to join two Arabs in a three-player team. However, William insisted on having Andrew as his doubles partner, this was not accepted and William was dropped from the team. It was said that the nation and the majority in Iraq (Arabs) would not be represented by a majority of players of a minority group (Assyrians) even if they were the best players!
In Habbaniya, Andrew and his friend and tennis doubles partner William Daniel dominated the tennis court for a decade in the 1940's and 1950's and were star players on the hockey field. Between them, they picked off many of Habbaniya's Civil Cantonment and the R.A.F. Station tennis championship trophies, and in Baghdad and elsewhere they beat many top Iraqi and British, American, Lebanese, Indonesian, Egyptian and other foreign players, crowning their victories with several national championship titles. Partnered together, the pair won the Iraq Challenge Championship cup for 1955 and 1956, and in partnership with Abbas Abid, one of Iraq's brightest star players, William shared three consecutive national championships in 1961-63.
Andrew was a strong partner in the doubles. He never won a singles crown, though he came pretty close to it a few times. But he did beat the R.A.F. Station champion, Wing Commander Seabrook, in a friendly match in 1950 if that was any consolation! and was a doubles champion many times.
In 1982 Andrew Simon left Baghdad with his family, and immigrated to England. He is a British citizen and has been working as manager for an import and export company in London. But presumably missing the abundance of warm sunshine and fed up with the constant burden of a raincoat and umbrella, Andrew says he's nursing hopes of retiring, at 65, to a life in Australia. Perhaps he wants to be close not only to his eldest daughter Janet, but also to his old Habbaniya friend and tennis partner, William Daniel. The irony of it, however, is that William, too, has a dream of his own. He has already visited the United States four times and obviously likes it, for he's now thinking of the prospects of immigrating to this country, where he would also be closer to two of his younger brothers! But, then, perhaps it's written in the stars that the twin shall always be worlds apart!

Today, almost five decades later, Andrew Simon and his old friend and partner William Daniel are still holding on tight to their tennis rackets, but they let go of their hockey sticks many years ago.

Andrew Simon, still loves tennis. He still uses his nasty left-handed mixture of drives, chops, volleys and smashes to enjoy his favorite sport and to keep in trim, managing also to snatch an occasional trophy in senior local matches. He now plays for a second division club called Brentham Club. Andrew hasn't given up trying for a singles title!

He has made it thrice to the semi-final and twice to the final, but each time he was stopped by contestants a decade or two his junior. But he was in four veterans' finals, of which he succeeded to win two!

In January-February 1990, during his third trip to Australia visiting with his eldest daughter Janet and family Andrew says he and William Daniel got together and had a "nice clash" in tennis. They played eight singles against each other. He managed to beat his old partner in three matches! The two also teamed up against an Australian pair in two friendlies, winning them both!

Andrew is the youngest of four siblings: Artoush lives in Chicago, his sister Wardeh Baza in Turlock, Calif., and an older brother, Shummon, passed on in Baghdad in 1989.

Equipment Accounts Section staff of 115 MU , taken in Habbaniya in Jan/Feb 1952.





Written by Mikhael Pius
Nineveh Magazine Vol. 13, No. 4 - 1990


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Last Updated :December 01, 2015

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