Growing up, Natasha Dabrowski lived and breathed tennis. As soon as she could hold a racquet in her hand, she was playing tennis. Her mother, a player on the professional circuit, helped instill Natasha’s love for the sport at the early age of four. “You could say that tennis was already in my blood,” remarked Natasha. She travelled the country playing in competitive United States Tennis Association tournaments, and was a three-time state champion at Cranbrook Kingswood High School in Bloomfield Township, Michigan. She attended the University of Michigan, where she played four years of club tennis and was President of the Student Government for the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.
When her good friend Adam Reinhart, an Open Tennis player on Team USA at the 2013 Maccabiah Games who Natasha described as a very enthusiastic person, returned from Israel with a previously unseen level of excitement, she knew she needed to get involved with Maccabi USA. “In my mind, the Pan American Maccabi Games would be a unique opportunity to compete against tennis players from around the world, but it morphed into something more than I could have ever imagined,” exclaimed Natasha.
(Pictured L-R: Alex Kotlyar, Natasha Dabrowski, Gary Notkin)
Natasha’s successes in Chile extended beyond the court, where she won a gold medal in Open Women’s Singles and a silver medal in Mixed Doubles with Alex Kotlyar; she was awarded the inaugural Dolph Schayes Memorial Award, given by Maccabi USA to the athletes that best exemplify the Maccabi Spirit through sportsmanship and athletic excellence. Rather than take credit for herself, she was effusive in her praise for her coaches, father-son duo Lonnie and Wayne Mitchel, and her teammates, Gary Notkin and the previously-mentioned Alex. “My receiving the award is very emblematic of the coaching and team support I had at the Games,” she recalled. “Lonnie and Wayne encouraged me to enjoy every moment, and my teammates were always there for me and we became a close knit team.”
(Pictured L-R: Wayne Mitchel, Natasha Dabrowski, Lonnie Mitchel)
Despite winning two medals and being honored with the Dolph Schayes Memorial Award, Natasha looks back on the Opening Ceremony as her fondest memory. “Walking into that stadium representing the USA was truly humbling,” she said. “I had tears in my eyes. I will forever remember it as one of the most honorable experiences I’ve had as an athlete.”
(Dolph Schayes Memorial Award)
The Dolph Schayes Memorial Award comes with a stipend to utilize for future travel to Israel, which Natasha hopes to use for the upcoming 2017 Maccabiah Games. “I know that I will stay involved with the Games and Maccabi USA forever because the connections and friendships I made will last a lifetime,” she said. “Today, I regularly talk with my roommate (Gavriela Colton, Open Women’s Volleyball in Chile), teammates and coaches to stay in touch and plan future reunions!”
Applications for the 2017 Maccabiah Games will be available online on February 15, 2016. Click HERE for more information.