Sitting pretty with a Jewish Wimbledon singles champ


This time last year I was rubbing shoulders with Avram Grant at Wimbledon before he moved from Portsmouth to Chelsea. How do you improve on that, you may ask? Well, at SW19 this week, I saw childhood hero Peter Beardsley, the former England and Liverpool striker, but even better than that, a softly-spoken gentleman by the name of Richard “Dick” Savitt. Older  readers will recognise Savitt as the only Jewish winner of the Wimbledon men’s title.

Sitting together on court five, watching Tzipi Obziler, we reminisced about the old times and he mentioned that he used to coach the Israeli. He also confirmed that another former Wimbledon champion, Pete Sampras, has Jewish background as his dad’s mum was of the faith.

In his prime, Savitt was considered the greatest back-court player in the game, and was ranked second in the world in 1951.

He became only the third American to win Wimbledon and the Australian Open in the same year and 10 years later took double gold at the Maccabiah Games.

A week at Wimbledon combined with the closing stages of Euro 2008 is a great way to spend your time, and prior to the semi-finals my pre-tournament tip, Spain, weren’t looking too bad either.

England might not be at the Euro 2008 finals but that did not stop a group of Maccabi League players flying the flag in Switzerland. Chigwell Athletic stars Adam Hakimi, Greg Bookman and Richard Klein, along with Faithfold’s Steve Gevertz, have been having a ball. They have been blending in with Spanish and Swedish fans and even bumped into Fulham manager Roy Hodgson. Sleeping arrangements look to have gone a bit pear-shaped however as I’ve received photographic evidence of Hakimi getting some shut-eye in a cot.

Chigwell A have already started planning for the new JC MSFL season. They have signed Sam McCarthy, Brad Frankel and Bookman, while Andrew Levy and Darren Yarlett have departed.

I’ve heard murmurs this week that Jewish cricket is dying a death. That was the reaction from two well-known players who spoke of their disappointment after the group stages of the Maccabi Twenty20 did not take place despite scorching conditions.

Everything was set for a kosher cricket extravaganza in Bushey last week until Newlands & Northwood spoilt the party. Their late cancellation resulted in the six-team group stage being scrapped with league chairman Richard Mitchell hoping for better luck on finals day a week on Sunday.

The overall standard of Jewish cricket has dropped significantly over the past couple of seasons. The addition of Barnet Synagogue has failed to make the expected impact but credit to MAL who have picked up a group of talented youngsters from Hasmonean School and are leading the way in the Maccabi League.

When Mel and Russell Corin left the club I expected them to fall apart, or at best arrange a merger. But with Tony Wise, along with Gavriel and Yoav Lebens, leading by example, they have fast become the Turkey of Jewish cricket. Spirit together with quality has helped put the club back on the map.

Adam Poole has threatened to do a work-out completely naked if Division Five new boys Woodford Wanderers lose a league match next season. Now that’s what I call sticking your neck, among other things, on the line!

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