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, 01 March 2014 00:00
The second meeting of the Powers Chemco property site at Glen Cove City Hall last Thursday night focused on health concerns in the surrounding area. Spokesmen from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Department of Health (DOH) and other environmental experts discussed the extent of the contaminated soil and water at the site. It was a continued discussion on the proposed clean-up of the State Superfund site, which was formerly occupied by the Columbia Ribbon and Carbon
Manufacturing Company, and now located within the 15-acre Konica Minolta property.
“After careful studies, we found that the contaminated soil and water table poses no threat to nearby residences,” said Nathan Epler, a hydrogeologist from the environmental consulting and management firm Roux Associates.
Friday, 28 February 2014 00:00
The Glen Cove Council of PTAs will be holding its Annual Community Scholarship Fund Event at the Swan Club on Sunday, March 9, at 11:30 a.m. The Glen Cove Community Scholarship Fund was founded in 1958, and it annually administers funds in the form of scholarships to deserving Glen Cove High School seniors. All proceeds from this event will be donated to this fund. The event will feature a performance by the High School Jazz Band and a basket raffle. This year’s honorees are Nomi Rosen, Dr. Michael Israel, Rosemarie Sekelsky, Brittney Frank Rifkind, Suzanne Anderson and Mary Murphy.
Thursday, 27 February 2014 00:00
The North Shore High School swimming team completed its season with high honors this year. Both the men’s and women’s teams have qualified individual athletes for all-conference and all-county championship competitions.
Coach Samara Weitz has also been honored with the Nassau County Coach of the Year award—motivating many of her athletes to succeed throughout the season, including senior Kristen Stanis.
“She made sure I was working hard, but also having fun,” Stanis said. “She taught me how to balance work and play and how it’s important to maintain it.”
Thursday, 20 February 2014 00:00
It was all fun and games at the fourth annual Winter Classic Hockey tournament at the Town of Oyster Bay Ice Skating Center in Bethpage on Saturday, Feb. 8. Young adults and kids of all ages from the Long Island Blues Hockey team faced off against three other teams in the event that gives individuals with special needs the opportunity to play ice hockey in an accommodating setting.
Michael Russo, founder of the Long Island Blues team, said he started the program 10 years ago so his son, Nicholas, who has autism, could play hockey.