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Local’s Maccabi experience: tennis and history in Vienna

Tucsonan Bobby Present, right, defeated Barry Danser of London, left. (Courtesy Bobby Present)

Tucsonan Bobby Present competed in the Maccabi Games in Vienna, Austria, this summer, playing in the masters tennis men’s 55+ category — and doing well until an injury forced him to default for the first time in his tennis career. “It was unfortunate timing,” he told the AJP, because he’d won his first two matches.

On his blog, http://tennisinvienna.wordpress.com, Present notes that the games were “the first large-scale Jewish event in Austria in more than 73 years,” with a concert on the first night featuring music composed by Austrians who perished in the Holocaust.

During opening ceremonies, Present says, the Israeli delegation entered first, with the Austrians last and the rest of the countries in alphabetical order. The parade of athletes was followed by emotional remarks from the mayor of Vienna and president of Austria and a multimedia spectacle “with Theodore Herzl brought to life, gymnastic and dance performances, acting out the history of Jews in Vienna — including the deportations, destruction and ultimate re-building. Truly amazing!”