“The great thing about age and tennis is that you always feel young,” said Bob Litwin, well known North Shore senior player, about his latest accomplishment, winning the United States Tennis Association’s National Men’s 65 Grass Court Championships in both singles and doubles earlier this month. “Tennis keeps you young,” added the age and injury-defying Litwin, who grew up in Great Neck, played for many years in Port Washington and now lives in Glenwood Landing.
“When I was playing in my 35’s and 40’s, I never really thought I’d be playing in the 65s and over,” he added, referring to his latest victories, achieved at the Seabright Lawn Tennis & Cricket Club in New Jersey. Despite a 3-year layoff due to 2 hip surgeries, Litwin has compiled a 35-1 record this year and won the Grand Masters gold medal singles title at the World Maccabiah Games in Israel in July.
At Seabright, Litwin followed a particularly rigorous schedule, playing almost every day during the 2-week span leading up to the final day of competition. “When you’re younger you tend to play every day,” he explained. “When you’re older you need to have sort of a balance between getting your game right and making sure that your body is ready to play. If you play too much, you can get very fatigued. You get hurt more easily. It’s always a challenge.”
Litwin, who regularly addresses groups as a motivational speaker and has a book being published next spring (Live The Best Story of Your Life: A World Champion’s Guide to Lasting Change), has a unique philosophy about his game. “Results are part of what I play for, certainly,” he admitted. “But I always think, ‘How can I do better next time? What can I do to be a better person on the court?’ I keep thinking about my mission about things that are not related to winning and losing, but related to the kind of competitor that I hope to be.”
Litwin is a great admirer of U.S. Open champ Rafael Nadal and feels that they have similar outlooks. “I’ve been dominating this year,” he pointed out. “He’s been dominating this year after coming back from knee problems. We do play a different game and we’re in a different world. Of course, you go out there and you always want to win, but he says it’s not always about that. He just wants to keep on getting better. That’s what I’m totally aligned with.”
Ironically, Litwin met Nadal’s finals opponent, Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 ranked player in the world, several weeks ago and played informally with him in a doubles match. Who was Litwin cheering for in that finals match against Nadal? “I was rooting for Djokovic,” he admitted. “When I met him, I found him to be a delightful young man, very bright, very funny. He was a great guy. He was relaxed and comfortable and not blown up with himself at all. But I usually root for Nadal. I’ve never met him, but what I see in him, I really, really like.”
Litwin is a member of the Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame. He 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.
He 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 9 times.