Celebrating 50 years as a volunteer-run club!
Celebrating 50 years as a volunteer-run club!
Many of you know Lambert Jakober, a member of LMTC continuously since 1978. But do you really know him? Let us share his story with you. Lambert was born in the alpine mountain village of Bad Gastein in Austria in 1941 and grew up in war-torn Austria where he met American soldiers who were the occupying armed forces there. They treated hungry children with such generosity that it inspired him to come to America, but he didn’t know how that would become a reality.
Bad Gastein was a popular Spa town with Hot Water springs and many first-class hotels which hosted well-to-do guests (even royalty and movie stars) from all over Europe and America for a century or more. There was a nice red clay tennis court but it was not open to blue collar workers or their kids. Being a man who never lets a challenge keep him from a goal, Lambert asked his mother (a housekeeper at a local doctor’s house) to ask the doctor if he could be the ball boy. He got the job and this opened the door for Lambert to meet the tennis instructor who came from Vienna for the summer. After Lambert’s many requests to teach him tennis, the instructor finally felt sorry for the kid and taught him after hours at the club.
In Austria, Lambert became a car mechanic and collision repair craftsman after finishing his four-year apprenticeship but was still not accepted into the local tennis club. It was reserved for the local elite and hotel guests.
Skiing was high on the agenda as Bad Gastein had snow from the end of October until mid-April. Lambert spent his weekends “skinning” (seal skins put on the bottoms of the skis) so they could hike the mountains (no lifts) and ski or attend race practice or out of town races with the ski club (blue collar only).
After serving in the military, Lambert studied at the Sports and Ski Academy of Innsbruck and graduated as a professional skier/instructor/race coach and ski guide. Since this was very prestigious, it opened the door to his playing tennis at the local club.
In 1965 Lambert came to New Jersey from Austria to help open and instruct at Great Gorge Ski Area (now Mountain Creek) and decided he wanted to live in America. In the summer he returned to Austria to his full-time job. In 1972 he married an American girl, worked in Summit, NJ, in 1974 started his business in Dover, NJ and finally moved to Sparta with his wife in 1975. At the time the LMTC membership was full (120 members and exclusively Lake Mohawk residents.) So he was put on a waiting list.
Finally in 1978 Lambert became a member where he played (and won) tournaments, coached his daughters - who became state ranked tennis players and played in college - and enjoyed sailing his Hobie Cat on Lake Mohawk, hiking, biking, skiing, and yearly visits to Austria, showing off his girls, visiting family and enjoying the beauty of the Alps and Europe. He also helped with many projects at the tennis club.
By the early 1990s, membership was dwindling and no one wanted to take the head position. Roger Cowie and Lambert's wife Gwynneth took over until Roger moved. She became President of the LMTC and Lambert became the unofficial maintenance guru. These handy skills were gained by his training in Austria (and from his father) as well as building a house on Lake Mohawk. If you know Lambert, you know he can do/fix just about anything, except as he says, “play the piano.” During his wife's term, Lambert helped create the addition of the member room/kitchen at the courts and helped with updates to the courts and building. Today of course he is still involved in LMTC improvements, painting the decks and fixing the front door prior to our latest awesome renovations when he repaired the shed.
When asked what was his greatest recent tennis insight, Lambert replied, “If it works for you, don’t change it.”
And when asked what famous person he most admires, Lambert told us Thomas Muster, a former number 1 tennis player from Austria, known as the “King of Clay.” In his prime, Muster was hit by a drunk driver and confined to a wheelchair where he still practiced tennis. He was named ATP Comeback Player in 1990 and had an illustrious career.
If you ask him what one thing that you might not know about him, Lambert told us that he is an artist using sheets of metal as the canvas and car paint finish to create colorful abstract art. He sold paintings in New York in the past and created several unusual modern art pieces including a picture of the Twin Towers where the buildings disappear depending on where you stand.
He is hoping to continue his tennis “career” at LMTC through his 90s like some of our other illustrious members! And perhaps you might like to check out SkiGastein.com…