Todd Martin, International Tennis Hall of Fame CEO Interview: "Consistent success is critical"
Graphic: VAVEL USA

Todd Martin, International Tennis Hall of Fame CEO Interview: "Consistent success is critical"

The American who was a two-time former Grand Slam finalists spent time talking to VAVEL USA about Hall of Fame nominees, the criteria to get in, and much more. 

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Noel John Alberto

VAVEL USA sat down with the International Tennis Hall of Fame's CEO Todd Martin. He reached a career-high ranking of world number four and reached two Grand Slam finals (1994 Australian Open and 1999 US Open).

He succeeded Mark L. Stenning, who is stepping down in September after 35 years with the organization and 14 years as CEO. 

On the unwritten Two-Slam Hall Of Fame threshold

He said, "Grand Slam titles is a data point that is considered first and foremost in both the committee that develops the ballot and the voters. As years goes by, ranking in my opinion, are more and more important and indicative and excellence and the sustaining of it. Consistent success is critical."

Michael Chang is one of the players in the Hall of Fame who doesn't have two Grand Slam titles but epitomized excellence consistently throughout his career (Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Michael Chang is one of the players in the Hall of Fame who doesn't have two Grand Slam titles but epitomized excellence consistently throughout his career (Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

The Promotion Of Doubles

Martin noted that it's next to impossible getting the top players to play on the men's side because of what's on the line at the Grand Slams as well as playing best three of five. In most cases, no one would want to put themselves in that position.

He continued by saying, "From a general promotion standpoint, the more we put doubles on TV, more show courts on the tours, the better it will do. Having the doubles players as teams more often, a lot of flux between teams week in, week out. It's hard to tell the story of who is great when players are playing with different partners."

How does balloting and fan voting work?

The reason fan voting was implemented was not only to promote tennis history, but the need to have a formal method for fans to express their opinion which is crucial in the 21st century.

How balloting works is that anybody can nominate anyone. The committee gets them to a point where a panel of historians, Hall of Famers, and media choose the list. The list can include as few as no candidates, but there is no limit on the number of candidates.

The success of the US Open

Todd Martin has enjoyed the success of the Open over the last few years which has included the addition of two roofs as well as overall facility improvements. 

He noted that both Daniil Medvedev and Bianca Andreescu have had breakout years though the Canadian's likely came earlier than expected to most people. The fact that two-generational matches were on display put tennis in a position to be incredibly grateful due to the awe of the longevity of greats as well as being curious to what's around the corner. 

The teen phenom Bianca Andreescu and the living legend Serena Williams. Two generations in one final (Tim Clayton/Corbis/Getty Images)
The teen phenom Bianca Andreescu and the living legend Serena Williams. Two generations in one final (Tim Clayton/Corbis/Getty Images)

He was vastly impressed with the 19-year-old's mental ability to compose herself from going 5-1 up to 5-5. The physical and mental fortitude of Medvedev he added was tremendous having come back from two sets down and almost clawing back the double break in the fifth. 

He compared the Russian's trophy ceremony speech to Ivan Drago saying it was Rocky IV-esque, sharing the notion that they both played the role of a Russian villain before winning over the crowd. 

2019 International Tennis Hall of Fame Nominees

Todd Martin defined the reasons behind the nomination of the following tennis players for the 2019 Hall of Fame.

Jonas Bjorkman: "He was a multiple-time Grand Slam winner in doubles and world number one for quite some time. He was one of the more unique players of the 90s considering his both success in the doubles court and his singles success where he got up to world number four."

Sergi Bruguera: "He started to pave the way for the Spaniards to follow, Ferrero, Moya, Nadal. He spun the ball like nobody ever had before. He was dominant on clay, a two-time champion at the French Open. Olympic silver medalist on hard court."

Goran Ivanisevic: "A former world number two. He was responsible for a couple of generations of tennis players coming out of Croatia. He on Wimbledon as a wild-card entry after making it to three finals previously after enduring disappointment and celebrated like few others ever had."

Conchita Martinez: "She won three Olympic medals, was a member of five Fed Cup-winning teams. A world number two in singles, Grand Slam winner at Wimbledon and a couple of finals showing in doubles at Roland Garros. She never seemed to be overwhelming in her game style but as crafty as they came."

A Dream Realized: Goran Ivanisevic reacts after his Wimbledon victory in 2001 (Tom Hegezi/PA Images/Getty Images)
A Dream Realized: Goran Ivanisevic reacts after his Wimbledon victory in 2001 (Tom Hegezi/PA Images/Getty Images)

Thoughts on Team Events

With the Laver Cup, Davis/Fed Cup, and the ATP Cup all going to take place in the next number of months, Martin believes there is now an oversaturation in team events and is interested to see how it all shakes out.

He is intrigued to see what the WTA is thinking in terms of their own team event and felt that the Davis Cup was right for a change. While there was no comprehensive worldwide team event, he hopes the leadership at ITF and Cosmos are open to making adjustments to the format over time.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Newport, Rhode Island in the United States. To participate in fan voting, click here. Fan voting will end September 29.

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