Bob Luxembourg dies at age of 89

Maybe a midlife crisis precipitated the change. Or it might have possibly been that the man simply grew tired of people misspelling his name.

For whatever reason, the name changed. But by any name, Bob Luxembourg meant much to the game of tennis. Right up to last Friday, the day his body finally gave out at the age of 89.

“I was like 13 years old and my dad decided he liked the spelling of the country Luxembourg,” explained his son, Erik, now 53, about the name game. “It wasn’t that much of a change and he liked it. About the same time he also officially changed his first name from Robert to Bob.”

So, nearly 40 years ago, Robert Luxenberg became Bob Luxembourg. And by the time he changed his name, Bob Luxembourg was well on his way to becoming a titan of tennis.

Though Luxembourg became known around the Suncoast area as much for his passion of the sport as the colorful slacks he wore, his love for the game long preceded that name change those many years ago. It only continued to grow and was in full bloom by the time the Luxembourg family moved from Long Island to Sarasota in 1980.

When Luxembourg landed in Sarasota, he was already a strong national player and his passion for the sport was on full display. He would relentlessly encourage others to take up the sport that he continuously called “The sport for a lifetime” and encourage people of all ages to play the game.

Over the years, Luxembourg was a constant presence around the tennis clubs throughout the area. He helped design the tennis facilities at The Plantation in Venice and The Landings Racquet Club in Sarasota, where he served as tennis director for a time.

Luxembourg later began setting up exhibition matches at various clubs. And, at the age of 80 he started a tennis magazine called Totally Tennis, a publication that quickly grew into a 32-page bi-monthly color production.

“He obviously loved tennis so much and brought so much of it to the people,” Erik Luxembourg said. “He wanted people to enjoy the game. He loved the sport and wanted to see it prosper.

“His legacy is cemented in tennis.”

That legacy got its start when Bob Luxembourg — then a young Robert Luxenberg — would serve as a ball boy for his father.

Born in Brooklyn, he became serious about the sport by the time he entered elementary school. He played in high school, college and in the Air Force.

He never strayed far from the game while working in the printing field and re-immersed himself fully in 1962 by building the Westhampton Racquet Club Resort on Long Island.

“I did it despite a lot of family objections and some people thinking I was crazy,” he said in a 2013 interview.

The club opened with seven members and three courts. Twenty years later, when he sold the place, there were nearly 300 members, 15 courts, 40 marina slips and 16 motel rooms.

“He was one of the first people to have a bubble over courts during the winter,” Erik Luxembourg said. “He was on the cutting edge. He was innovative.”

And he sold the sport to legions of people. The tennis magazine he began as an octogenarian reached a thriving tennis audience around the area.

“Bob was so passionate with his love for tennis,” said Kathy Whyte, who served as art director and editor for the publication. “Besides treating me like a daughter he let me have full reign over design and creative writing.

“I was doubly rewarded from knowing him and working with him by learning and loving the ‘sport of a lifetime’ and sharing in the love he had for his family and friends.”

The tennis fans became more well informed thanks to Luxembourg. And the tennis community is poorer with his passing.

In addition to Erik, Bob Luxembourg leaves behind his wife of 56 years, Nordis, and a daughter, Nicole. His brother, Dan Luxenberg, died April 5th in Sarasota at the age of 92.

Memorial plans are yet to be determined.