Three years on the sidelines with a bad hip and two surgeries later, 65-year-old Bob Litwin, one of the North Shore’s most accomplished tennis players, is ready to lead the United States Grand Masters Team as its player/coach in the 19th World Maccabiah Games in Israel in July.
Litwin, a member of the Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame, has won the International Tennis Federation World Championship, 14 United States Tennis Association National titles from 1991 to 2007 and was ranked first in the over 55 years old bracket in 2005. He grew up in Great Neck, starring at Great Neck South High in tennis and basketball and lived in Port Washington for 23 years before moving to Glenwood Landing to develop his Focus Institute.
He’s returning to the Israeli tournament for the first time in 30 years. “When I was 35 that year I won the gold medal in doubles and the bronze medal in singles, “ he recalled. “I’m back to playing at the same level as before,” he said, referring to his hip difficulties. “I feel that I’m just a few points away from being ranked the No. 1 player in the country in the 65 and over.” Litwin is also waiting word as to whether he’ll be named to this year’s Senior Davis Cup Team that will play in Czechoslovakia. He’s been on the team eight times previously.
Maccabi USA, an organization that supports Jewish athletes throughout the country, selected Litwin as coach for the team, which has over 20 players, all aged 65 years or older. Litwin is clear about his mission at the Games. “I have two goals,” he said. “One is for me to go back there and win a gold in the singles. The other is to take these players, many of who are not tournament players, and share with them what the competitive experience really is, and to hopefully have some of them win medals. It’s going to be an unbelievable lifetime experience for them if they can win a medal.”
Litwin became disinterested in playing tennis when he first entered the University of Michigan. “Basketball was what I wanted to play,” he explained. After graduation Litwin began teaching history in a private school in Manhattan. “When the school needed a tennis coach, they drafted me. During the summer I started teaching tennis. And I made a career out of it. I ended up teaching tennis for 35 years.”
“I didn’t start playing competitive tennis again until I was 32 and living in Port Washington,” he continued. “That’s where I began to develop.” Litwin was the first director of tennis for the Village Club of Sands Point and was a consultant to the Port Washington Yacht Club when it began to develop its tennis program.
Litwin then began to design a program for weekend athletes and business people he called “Focus,” concentrating on the mental side of the game. His competitive spirit returned as he began to enter tournaments to as he says, “Experience what my students were experiencing, so that I could help them better.”
“People were starting to improve by learning mental skills - whether they were relaxation skills, focusing skills, breathing skills, perspective, etc.,” he continued. “Then people in business said, ‘this is just what we need in the workplace. I need this in my office.’”
Saturday, 18 October 2014 00:00
If Heather Lehrman is not yet a familiar face to local pet owners, her name is likely to soon become a household name to dog lovers and families with young children, as her children’s book, Bullied at the Dog Park, was released this week. The book is based on a real-life incident with her own dog, Herbie, and fans will have a chance to meet her and Herbie at a book signing at Petco in Glen Cove on Saturday, Oct. 25.
“I wanted to help get the message out in my own way about the effects of bullying,” says Lehrman, a resident of Great Neck. “This book teaches children valuable lessons about treating all dogs (and people) with respect, and the importance of simple kindness.”
Friday, 17 October 2014 00:00
It was Dec. 31, 1999, the last day of the 20th century, and Florence Dolling was preparing an elaborate Thai dinner for a New Year’s Eve celebration in her home in Glen Cove when the phone rang. It was her doctor reporting that, “Yes, it was breast cancer.” She kept on cooking, attempting to retain as much normalcy as she could muster, knowing that, with the new millennium, there would certainly come change.
“I wore a red strapless bustier for the party because I thought I was saying goodbye to the ‘girls’,” she says. “My husband, my sense of humor, and my friends, helped me get through that night,” she recalls.
Thursday, 16 October 2014 00:00
On Tuesday, Oct. 7, the Glen Cove Finley Middle School opened their football season with a home game against Thompson Middle School. The game opened with the Glen Cove offense going on a nice drive, which saw quarterback Mike Vaughan score on a 30-yard touchdown run.
Thursday, 16 October 2014 00:00
Six North Shore High School athletes competed in the 2014 JCC Maccabi Games and led the New York Delegation to victory, winning gold. The students included Jacob Abramowitz, Brett Bennett, Drew Jacklin, Ben Lerner, Josh Mandell, and Ben Saltzman. The Maccabi Games is a week-long Olympic tournament for Jewish teenage athletes, ages 14-16 years old. It is held in numerous venues across the United States.
Bennett proudly said, “Competing in the Maccabi Games was a unique and thrilling experience for me. It not only was a highly competitive basketball tournament, but it also emphasized the importance of building strong values such as good sportsmanship, leadership, team unity, compassion and respect.
This, for me, was an experience of a lifetime!”