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.’”
Wednesday, 16 April 2014 00:00
The Glen Cove Board of Education passed the Alternative Veterans’ Exemption for taxes following last week’s public hearing at Robert M. Finley Middle School, to the appreciation of the veterans in attendance.
Several dozen vets arrived promptly at 6 p.m. at the middle school to express their support for the tax exemption. Many noted that they get tax breaks from the city and county, but are still left with the ever-growing school tax bill.
“We’re having a hard time with our taxes, especially the school tax,” said the first veteran to speak.
Saturday, 12 April 2014 00:00
This year marks the 35th anniversary of The Sea Cliff Village Museum. Founded in 1979, the museum serves as a place to preserve and publicly display historical items of past Sea Cliff residents. The museum displays both temporary and permanent collections from the 18th through 20th centuries. Most of the items and artifacts in the museum have been donated by residents of Sea Cliff who want to share them with the rest of the North Shore community.
Thursday, 10 April 2014 00:00
The Glen Cove Junior Lacrosse Club kicked off their 20th season with the third- and fourth-grade boys winning their home opener against Deer Park on a moist and muddy Sunday morning.
Despite the weather forecast, the boys were determined to play after spending the last three months practicing indoors. It was a hard fought battle with the lead changing several times, but at the end Glen Cove managed to hold on for a 6 – 5 victory.
Anchoring the victory was goalie Tyler Shea, who stopped several point blank one-on-ones and recorded 13 saves in the game. The offense started slow, but began clicking as the game went on. Providing the firepower was Ryan Houghton with two goals and Micah Stone, Eamon Doyle, Andrew Epifania and Lukasz Dubicki, each adding one. Epifania and Andrew Bisch each had an assist in the winning effort.
Thursday, 10 April 2014 00:00
Glen Cove High School hosted the PTSA-sponsored Red vs. Green Games last month, an evening of traditional and non-traditional sporting activities in which students and adults represented their schools of past and present allegiance by donning either red- or green-colored attire. Students of all ages came to their schools the day of the event wearing either red or green. Gribbin and Connolly elementary schools are traditional green schools while Deasy and Landing are red schools.