July 14th, 2014

Broward Tennis Blog: Basketball Pro Wins Tennis Tourneys, Returns to Hoops

Howie Weinstein, with one of many trophies.

Howie Weinstein, with one of many trophies.

At 6’5,” Howie Weinstein of Boca Raton is a force on the courts. In his case, though, that means not just the tennis court, but the basketball court, as well.

The former pro basketball player had already won four Florida tennis tournaments through April of this year, and then laced up his sneakers for a weekend at the Masters Basketball Tournament, held in early May in Coral Springs. His Gold Ward team, organized out of Pennsylvania and composed of former college players age 65 and older, went to the semifinals before being vanquished. John Brown, the 6’7” forward who had a six-year NBA career, also played in the event.

Howie’s no stranger to championship matches. His senior 4.0 USTA League team from Broward County is bound for nationals in Surprise, Ariz., in the fall. In February, the tall net poacher won the open 4.0 doubles with Greg Glover, playing for Royal Palm Country Club, in a local event held at the Delray Tennis Center, the site of the annual ATP tournament.

He also won a doubles tournament at the Boca Hotel with teammate Reid Edelman. And the Swim and Racquet Club team that he captains out of Boca Raton won the Palm Beach County senior men’s division 1 championship, for which yours truly also plays.

Basketball nets before tennis nets
Weinstein was invited to the New York Knicks basketball camp after a storied career at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU), only to be passed over in favor of Henry Bibby, the former UCLA All-American.

The 2010 FDU Hall of Fame inductee would be the No. 1 draft choice in the professional Eastern League, where he played with the Trenton Pat Pavers for half a year before going on to play in Europe with the USA touring squad for three years.

Basketball has been “berry berry” good for tennis
If baseball has been “berry, berry good to” Saturday Night Live character Chico Escuela, played by Garrett Morris, then basketball has been berry, berry good to Howie Weinstein’s tennis game.

“Basketball helped me develop quick hands, eyes, and feet,” Weinstein said. “It’s helped me beat players who are better than me because playing hoops made me an athlete, and it showed me how to win, ever since I was five years old.”

Howie in front of his trophy case.

Howie in front of his trophy case.

The 65-year-old jock hadn’t played basketball in 10 years, when he gave up the game for tennis. So he had to “come out of retirement” to play in the Coral Spring event. The 6’5” center said he averaged in the low teens in points per game while pulling down about eight rebounds.

It was a hard switch from tennis to basketball, he said, though it was facilitated by a week of workouts at the Boca YMCA, alternating sprints with basketball drills and shooting.

“There are different leg muscles needed for basketball than are used for tennis,” he said, so the workouts helped a great deal. He loved the round ball competition because it “brought back old memories.”

Interviewing him for this article brought back old memories for me, as well, as I used to watch Howie Weinstein play schoolyard basketball; we each went to Bayside High School in New York City — though he’s much taller than I am.