By: Michele DiPasquale
The U.S. Open may be over, but tennis lives on. And with a local cable channel devoted to tennis 24/7, the sport continues for tennis fans at any time.
In Livingston, a recent statewide ranking of New Jersey’s greatest high school coaches of all time, among all boys’ and girls’ sports, placed boys and girls tennis coach Elliot Lovi in the top 20. At both Livingston and Millburn High Schools, Lovi has coached boys tennis for 47 years, while he is currently in his ninth season as Livingston’s girls tennis coach.
While raised in Brooklyn, NY, until he was five, then growing up in Lakewood, Coach Lovi’s parents arrived in the U.S. from Eastern Europe in 1939, just before the start of World War II and the advent of the Holocaust. Coach Lovi played tennis for many years as a kid and competed in tournaments when he was in the Army Reserves. He started coaching basketball in Verona while attending Montclair State College, then began his long tenure in boys’ tennis at Livingston High School in 1974. Lovi instructed girls’ tennis at Millburn High School for 27 years. Coach Lovi taught business education for 39 years at Livingston High School. He and his wife, Marjorie, have two children and one grandson. Among his many accomplishments, Coach Lovi attained the highest Boy Scouts status of Eagle Scout and played the trumpet in the Lakewood High School Band.
When asked why he chose his calling, Coach Lovi said, “Athletics was always a big part of my life and coaching was a natural part of it. It’s fun, competitive, and challenging.”
Coach Lovi’s students say his low-key, dedicated yet fun persona is part of why they love him.
“It’s the kids’ show,” he says. “I’m there for guidance and direction. It’s not the parents or adults show. And it’s great meeting so many wonderful people,” he says.
The Daily Record ranked Coach Lovi in the top 20 and marks his overall record for coaching both boys and girls to include 20 state championships, 56 conference crowns, and six Tournament of Champions titles. During the 1970s the popularity of tennis began to soar, which coincided with the beginning of Lovi’s career as a coach. Lovi has remarked that the sport is very different now than it was in the 1970s and 80s.
“It used to be more of a finesse game, and now it’s more of a power game. I miss the finesse of serving and volleying. Technology and power have changed the sport. People are more athletic. Kids are training so much more, and they are intensely focused on that. They didn’t have that years ago.”
Lovi has his own philosophy toward coaching.
“‘Play hard, play fair, and treat your opponents with dignity and respect. I think if that would be carried over in every person’s life the world would be a much better place,” he said.