| By Adam Wolfthal
Photo credit: Adam Wolfthal

Having reached 325th in the world in the WTA Rankings, it’s safe to say that Lena Litvak has seen her share of tennis clubs, but none have her heart quite like Stadium Tennis Center, just a stone’s throw from Yankee Stadium. Lena started playing at Stadium “way back when” in 1997. She has always appreciated the family feel of the club, saying Stadium is a place “You want to hang out at, before and after tennis, the facility and the people both make it home-y.” Lena was the number one ranked junior player in the Eastern Section, a top 10 player in the country and ranked 37th in the world before heading to Harvard University.

Robert Levine, a two-time National Champion, is currently the number one freshman in New York State, with a junior ranking of 650th in the world. Robert loves training at Stadium Tennis Center in the High Performance Elite program under the direction of Gotham Tennis Academy. He likes that Stadium has 12 of the newest indoor courts in New York City with 65 foot high ceilings, excellent lighting, spacious backcourts, both morning and afternoon practice sessions, and top-tier coaches and players through Stadium’s partnership with Gotham Tennis Academy. Training with a peer group of players who are playing in the same level tournaments, and striving for the same goals, has helped prepare Robert for competitive play on both the National and International levels.

Lena has been preparing for competition, taking advantage of focused fitness groups and drilling sessions that Stadium Tennis provides throughout the day. “They have the coaches on hand and a hitting partner out there even if there is only one player on court.”

“You get a lot of attention, which is very rare to find,” said Lena. “The club owners are tennis people with a unique vision of creating a special tennis training atmosphere, especially where the highest level tournament players can train and improve.”

Having been around Stadium Tennis Center for so long, Lena has seen the club’s commitment to constantly improving its facilities and programs, striving to make it a special place for tennis players and their families. Stadium Tennis recently completed a renovation of its clubhouse, which now includes the Grand Slam Café, a pro shop, locker rooms and lounge areas, Wi-Fi computer access, and workspaces for schoolwork.

After Lena's first year playing at Harvard, she went down to Venezuela with her Harvard teammate and entered a Futures Tournament, her first pro event. Lena won the doubles and decided to turn pro and put her college career on a temporary hold. She already had the idea to turn pro, but the win pushed her to take on the pro tennis life slightly earlier than she had planned.

“It's a lot, being pro … everyone thinks it’s all of this luxury stuff and it’s all fantastic, but it's not,” said Lena. “There is something about competing for yourself … that drive and that intensity came out, and I liked it.”

Robert started playing tennis because his older brother exposed him to the game. He began competing at a young age, stating The Little Mo Nationals and Internationals, which he played as a nine year-old, as one of the experiences that got him hooked on competition. Robert is very mature, and has a keen understanding of how important it is to have a good attitude both on and off the court. He was the recipient of the Boys 14s National Sportsmanship award in Mobile, Ala., and also serves as a mentor for several of the younger players at Stadium.
Robert’s recommendation for young tennis players is to “Love sports in general … stay out there on the court, stay active and do what you love.”

For up and coming players, Lena believes that the kids need to have fun with it. Too often young players are overly-strict on themselves and too committed to results.

“Never forget to enjoy it and take a moment to appreciate how lucky you are playing the sport of tennis.”