Written by Andy Newman Thursday, 15 August 2013 00:00
Bob Litwin’s return to Israel last month for the first time since 1985 was not only an athletic triumph for the No. 1 ranked over 65 years old tennis player in the United States, but also a life changing event.
Litwin, well known in the Port Washington and Great Neck tennis community, traveled to the Middle East as player/coach for the Grand Masters (over 65) tennis team that participated in the just completed 19th World Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv. He combined with the 22 players on his team to win 17 medals, 15 more than the team won four years ago.
On a personal level, Litwin, who lives in Glenwood Landing, won the gold medal himself in the men’s final, beating Joe Owen, Israel’s top ranked 65 and over player, 6-3, 6-2. Litwin was a bronze medal singles winner in Israel in 1985 and won the gold in the men’s doubles that year also.
But the trip, which included visits to Yad Vashem, the memorial to Holocaust victims, and the fortress at Masada left a deep impression on him. “It was unbelievable and so special,” he said, “because almost 30 years ago I was kind of there just playing tennis. But this was one of the top experiences of my life.”
“For me,” he continued, “Israel was like a new awakening for me, just to be there again after 30 years. The changes in Israel in the last 30 years weren’t so dramatic as the fact that I’ve changed in 30 years. My appreciation of Israel is that everybody is an Israeli first and that kind of unity is so unique to see. We sometimes forget in our own country that we’re all Americans first, not Easterners, or Westerners, not rich or poor. We’re really all the same. Being in Israel made me more conscious of my own identity as a person. It was a wonderful feeling.”
He was also elated over the success of his team. There were approximately 1200 athletes representing the U.S. at the event. Less than 200 of those competitors won medals.
Litwin’s team accounted for 17 of those medals, a significant number. “I was coaching these guys in how to deal with competition and one of the things that you learn in competition is that very few guys actually win,” he commented. “Just think of it. More than a thousand didn’t win anything.”
“The message I kept giving the team is that it’s not really about medals, he continued. “It’s about the experience. The experience of adults being able to develop deep bonding experiences with other adults is very, very rare once you’ve stopped going to camp and going to college. Most of the relationships we develop during that time are somewhat superficial. But to be able to spend 16 days with a bunch of different people all from different areas, different parts of the country, from different professions, and different economic levels, you basically end up having brothers for life. I mean, you’re so connected. That’s very, very special. I feel very blessed to have 22 new brothers in my life.
That’s a huge takeaway.”
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’s also been selected for the Senior Davis Cup team nine times. 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.
Saturday, 30 November 2013 00:00
The recent adoption the Common Core Learning Standards, a rigorous series of teacher and student assessment testing, and the potential sharing of confidential student information with third parties have resulted in a radical change in the educational landscape in New York State—one that many parents have been concerned about.
To address these growing concerns, the Great Neck School District’s United Parent Teacher Council recently hosted a question and answer session at South High School with New York State Regent Roger Tilles, a Great Neck resident who has been outspoken with both his support of content the Common Core and his disapproval in how the new set of learning standards have been implemented.
Friday, 29 November 2013 00:00
At a meeting last week, after almost four hours of back and forth between Clover Drive residents, the attorney representing builder Frank Lalazarian’s controversial Old Mill II project and members of the Village of Great Neck’s Planning Board, there was very little progress, no vote taken and far more questions than answers.
The subdivision plan, a project under discussion for the last five years and recently approved by the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals, calls for 11 houses to be built in the area behind the Old Mill Apartments, with sole access from Clover Drive. Complicating the builder’s efforts to gain approval to start building is the fact that one of the lots is within the boundaries of Great Neck Estates and will require that village’s approval also. Additionally, Lalazarian’s project must gain the approval of several Nassau County agencies, including its department of public works, department of health and planning commission.
Wednesday, 27 November 2013 15:23
The Bears team before a recent game at the Andrew Stergiopoulos Ice Rink with Coach Dan Marsella.
Thursday, 28 November 2013 00:00
Great Neck’s Ayal Hod is the proud coach of Great Neck’s winning Top Gun sixth grade team in the Island Garden Fall League. Hod puts together the team every season, mixing local youngsters from Great Neck and children son Dillon’s AAU Jamaica Queens team. The league is very competitive and challenging and it teaches the children many valuable lessons: “how to be great teammates by sharing the ball, how to compete hard on every possession and what you put in is what you get out.”
Hod says that the main challenge is for every child to bring their individual talent to the team and collectively they have something special. an ex-player, he says that “basketball was very good to me, it helped pay my college education and it paid my-bills for many years to come via several basketball commercials ... basketball also opened many doors for me and it helped me tremendously in my business career.”
Hod enjoys sharing his basketball journey background with his son and his friends and having them learn lessons too.