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A few words about my mentor, Jim Martz

A few words about my mentor, Jim Martz

Jim and I went to so many tennis events together. Everyone, and I mean everyone, in the tennis world knew Jim. He was held in the highest regard by everyone we met. When I introduced myself, I would tell people “I’m Jim’s intern.” It was true! He was my mentor.

Let's rewind for a moment. Everywhere I went to play tennis in Florida: public parks, country clubs, tournaments, academies, and pro shops — I saw Florida Tennis magazine. So, a few years ago, I became a loyal subscriber. I was a huge fan of Jim’s work.

The first time we talked on the phone, I immediately felt a real kinship with Jim. After subscribing for a few years, I approached Jim about the prospect of allowing me to take the reins of the publication. He told me he was ready.

After passing the torch to me, I asked Jim to remain the magazine's editor. Jim was the heart and soul of Florida Tennis and that’s why I fell in love with it.

In addition to Jim's award-winning work at Florida Tennis, he was an integral part of CaneSporta magazine that covered the Miami Hurricanes, working alongside the talented Gary Ferman. 

Furthermore, Jim was a prolific author. He'd written books about Rick Macci, Safe Tennis, USTA Florida, and a number of others about the Miami Hurricanes. 

Jim continued to write cover stories and edit each issue of Florida Tennis while teaching me the ropes. And he was a great teacher. He taught me so much about the history of pro tournaments in Florida. The legacies of legends like Eddie Herr and Bobby Curtis and their impact on junior tennis in the state. He told me the amazing story of USTA Florida, now celebrating their 75th anniversary, and their impact on tennis in the Sunshine State.

Above: Matt Pressman, Jim Martz, and Adam Ross. Photo: Florida Tennis.

Jim had established deep personal relationships with some of the biggest names in tennis, including those affiliated with Florida's world of junior tennis academies: Rick Macci, Chris Evert, Emilio Sanchez, and the late Nick Bollettieri.

As a junior player, I was fortunate to attend the Harry Hopman Tennis Academy at Saddlebrook Resort in the Tampa area and I became enthralled with the Florida Tennis scene. This was (and is) the state where tennis dreams are built.

In turn, it was like a dream for me to reconnect with the tennis world. And Jim paved the way for me to learn so, so much about it. He was so patient. So kind. So caring. So humble. Such a gentlemen in every way.

Jim taught me all about the magazine. More importantly, he taught me how to live a truly meaningful life. Watching his example, he taught me to trust your dreams, pursue your passion, and do what you love.

At the same time, he demonstrated how to do it with grace, poise, and purpose. I am so grateful that I had such special moments with Jim. More than a mentor, Jim was a friend. I’ll miss him. I wish I could have had more time with him.

Yesterday was an amazing day for all those who knew Jim Martz. The Celebration of Life event at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center was an ideal place for us to remember Jim. Folks from all walks of life had a chance to come together and pay tribute.

To that end, I want to thank Dan DeBruyne and the entire staff of the Veltri Tennis Center and Plantation Parks and Recreation for their help and cooperation.

I also want to acknowledge Jim’s amazing sister, Sue Schmidt, who reminds me so much of Jim. It’s been wonderful to get to know her better. The words of Katy, Jim’s great niece along with the thoughtful remembrances by great nephews, AJ, Mateo and Antonio, will not be forgotten too.

Many who were mentored through Jim's tireless work with the Big Brother program were at the Celebration of Life. Greg Cote and Gary Ferman gave moving speeches about Jim's earlier days at the Miami Herald and CaneSport too. And I also want to thank the USTA Florida, Love Serving Autism, and the Orange Bowl Committee for their support as well. 

It was wonderful to hear Dave "Koz" Kozlowski, an absolute legend in the Florida Tennis world, provide his memories, stories, and lessons learned working with Jim Martz over so many years together. And... a big thank you to the Koz for filming the entire event — you can view the video at bottom of this article.

In addition, I wanted to extend a heartfelt thank you to Florida Tennis contributor Todd Pechter for flying in all the way from New York to attend the event. We had a wonderful dinner together post-event and Todd's presence (and our conversation) provided plenty of good vibes and memories.

I also wanted to give a shout-out to Rick Macci for closing the Celebration of Life event as the last speaker. His uplifting words, motivational spirit, and champion mindset comes through in everything he does — Jim's eyes would always light up whenever we talked about Macci. Rick... you rock!

Photo courtesy of Todd Pechter

Last, I want to say an enormous thank you to Adam Ross who really pulled everything together at the Celebration of Life and served as a spectacular host and emcee for the entire event. Adam talked to Jim every day on the phone and the two were very, very close. Adam has been so supportive — he’s really an amazing individual and a dear friend. Thank you.

One of my favorite memories was celebrating Jim’s 80th birthday lunch along with Adam where we all shared a lot of laughs together. Some photos from that special day are included as part of this article.

In closing, I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who attended the Celebration of Life event. Let’s continue to always remember Jim Martz and the way he made us feel in his presence.

His memory will live on. 

In Florida Tennis magazine.

And in my heart.


Celebration of Life Video

Opening remarks and emcee throughout event...

Adam Ross - Contributing Writer, Florida Tennis and USTA Florida Board of Directors. 

Speakers include (in this order):

1. Katy Garduno - Jim's great niece.
2. AJ Garduno - Jim's great nephew
3. Mateo Garduno - Jim's great nephew
4. Antonio Garduno - Jim's great nephew
5. Mateo returned to say a few more words
6. Lisa Pugliese LaCroix - USPTA and PTR Tennis Professional, Love Serving Autism CEO and Founder 
7. Joe Kiertekles - Mentored through Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. 
8. Gary Ferman - Publisher of CaneSport
9. Harvey Fialkov - Sportswriter
9. Greg Cote - Award Winning Miami Herald Sports Columnist
10. Laura Bowen - Executive Director of the USTA Florida
11. Doug Wiley - Chair of the Orange Bowl Tennis Committee
12. Eric Poms - Chief Executive Officer of the Orange Bowl Tennis Committee
13. Dave "Koz" Kozlowski - Florida Tennis contributor (special thanks for producing the video for this special event)
14. Matt Pressman - Editor and Publisher of Florida Tennis
15. Rick Macci - Legendary USPTA Hall of Fame Professional and coach of five players ranked #1 in the world.


Written by Florida Tennis Editor and Publisher Matt Pressman

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