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July 08, 1988 - Image 41

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-07-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

851.3590

"Where You Come First"

HAIR

Kosins

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COSMETICS

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has joined

Big & Tall

taken in England when the
first Jewish player won
Wimbledon. "I never had any
problems being Jewish when
I was playing. Certainly not
there. There was no big deal."
Savitt attended some early-
round matches at Wimbledon
this year. Although he has
difficulty picturing himself as
having played — and won —
on the famed grass courts, he
says Wimbledon "still has all
the atmosphere. It's always
been and always will be a
great tournament."
While he won two of tennis'
top four tournaments —
Wimbledon and Australia —
on grass surfaces, Savitt was
not a grass court specialist,
unlike most of the top players
of his era.
"The major circuits in the
world were on grass," he says.
"If you couldn't play on grass,
that was it. So most of the
(U.S. and Australian) players
then served and volleyed .. .
They all served and came to
the net every ball. I didn't
play that way. I guess so-
meone who plays like me .. .
is (Ivan) Lendl. I didn't come
in a lot, but I tried to serve
hard and get a short ball and
come to the net."
Because there was little
money in tennis during its
amateur days, Savitt's full-
time tennis career was brief,
only two and-a-half years.
That makes his ac-
complishments even more im-
pressive. Aside from winning
the Wimbledon singles crown

After returning
from Israel as the
Maccabiah
champion, Savitt
began raising
money for a tennis
center for Israel.

at age 24, Savitt won the
Australian Open and played
on the U.S. Davis Cup team
that same year. Savitt won
the U.S. Indoor championship
three times in the '50's and
was the International Mac-
cabiah champion in 1961.
Savitt joined the tour in
June, 1950 and left in October
of 1952. "In those days there
wasn't that much money in
tennis," he explains. "If you
kept playing, it'd be hard to
stop and go into something
else. Otherwise you would've
ended up probably teaching
(tennis) somewhere. I didn't
particularly want to teach at
that time."
Savitt gave up the tennis
tour for the Texas oil industry.
In 1961 he moved into the
securities business. He cur-
rently works as a stockbroker
for the New York firm of Wer-

theim, Schroder.
After returning from Israel
as the Maccabiah champion,
Savitt began raising money
for a tennis center for Israel.
While his fund-raising was
successful, Savitt could not
find a suitable contact person
in Israel to carry out his plan.
"I didn't have the time to go
over there and supervise the
building of it. We weren't sure
who could build it. So we end-
ed up giving all the money
back."
Savitt was ahead of his
time. The tennis center idea
was picked up by Ian
Frohman, the former South
African player then living in
Israel, and American Bill
Lippe. They put the project in
motion, then approached
Savitt. Savitt joined the team.
Among his contributions is
training Israeli tennis
coaches. "I taught the coaches
how to teach," he explains.
"They teach the system
which I inaugurated 10, 11
years ago. We have about 90
coaches. Everybody teaches
exactly the same way, the
same techniques, in the
beginning. Then players add
or subtract a little bit."

Savitt visits the eight
centers on his twice-annual,
two-week trips to Israel. He
works with coaches and the
best players at each center.
While in the U.S., he works on
other projects for the centers,
such as fund-raising. "I spend
a good portion of each day" on
tennis center business, he
says.
Of the tennis center pro-
gram, Savitt says, "It's
worked beyond anybody's
wildest belief. I'd say it's pro-
bably the most successful pro-
gram, or operation, ever tried
there. It's gone way beyond
anybody's wildest dreams,
whatever area one's in-
terested in, whether it's the
social program part or the
world-class tennis players'
part, which is my area of in-
terest."
Savitt says that young
Israelis Amos Mansdorf, the
world's 22nd ranked player,
and Gilad Bloom, number
110, have "done very well .. .
I hope they both get better."
Savitt identifies five junior
Israeli players as the best
hope for the future, including
three boys: Raviv Weidenfeld,
Boaz Marenstein and Ohad
Weinberg, plus two girls, Yael
Sagel, who won her first-
round match in this year's
Wimbledon junior singles
play (she lost to the top seed
in the second round), and
Olympic qualifier Elena
Berger.
"It's coming slowly. We
have a lot of players, but

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

41

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