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Recollections of My Friend and Mentor, Jim Martz

Recollections of My Friend and Mentor, Jim Martz

It is very hard to put into words what Jim Martz meant to me. I met him about 15 years ago but we became closest over the past 4 years. Upon reflection, that coincides with the passing of my father. I had a very close relationship with my father. We spoke every day. As I continue to process Jim’s passing I realize that after my father passed away, I would speak with Jim pretty much every day. Very often I would call him after work, invariably around dinner time, and our conversation would begin in a pretty ordinary way. Hey Jim, what are you having for dinner? The answer was never chicken or turkey or fish. He kept himself on a strict and healthy diet. Very often the answer was a veggie burger. Jim was a leading expert on tennis in Florida and on the Miami Hurricanes. He may also have been the worlds’ foremost authority on veggie burgers. I found myself ordering them when we covered the Miami Open and had lunch together.

Jim was an extraordinarily slow eater. He knew it is was healthier to eat slowly but he also saw meals as a chance to talk and to indulge his curious nature. He was a journalist and possessed what seemed to be a never ending curiosity. Each meal was peppered with questions from Jim. He was just so interested in others. I would try to turn the tables to learn from him as much as possible. I love tennis and I love the Canes. How lucky to be able to ask him questions about these subjects amongst others.

Many Florida Tennis readers are familiar with the late, great Florida legend, Bobby Curtis. Bobby was all about paying it forward, like Jim, and spent his life helping junior tennis players and those in need. Jim was incredibly close with Bobby and I became close to Bobby as well and we enjoyed going out to lunch with Bobby at Jack’s Hollywood Diner which was located very close to where Bobby lived, Buckingham Place, not to be confused with the palace. Bobby was rail thin and could eat a ton and never put on a pound. He was also one of the fastest eaters on the planet. Jim would be starting on his salad while Bobby was finishing his hamburger and ready for dessert. You could actually see Bobby getting concerned as he finished his pie and Jim was just starting on his veggie burger. Dinner was served at Buckingham Place at 5PM and being late for that next meal was simply not an option. Listening to Bobby and Jim talk was a history lesson covering all topics and I learned a lot from those meals and enjoyed them very much.

Above: Jim Martz and Bobby Curtis

One of Jim’s favorite spots was the iconic Jaxson’s Ice Cream, his happy place, and Jim enjoyed a milkshake from Doc’s when he was covering the Delray Beach Open. He loved his popcorn when he watched Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. If you discussed politics with Jim, a subject that he would not discuss at Martz family reunions in Ohio, you would know that he was a liberal. He was a just and decent person and believed in fundamental freedoms for all.

My fondest memories of Jim are my talks with him, whether over the phone or breaking bread with him, or when he was showing me the ropes at the Delray Beach Open or the Miami Open. He talked lovingly of his family, especially his sister, Pastor Sue Schmidt. I have met her and spent time with her since Jim’s passing and she is just exactly what one would expect, a kind and thoughtful person, just like Jim. I hope Sue is prepared for me to call her every day. Jim shared many warm stories with me about his family. He was so very proud of them and they loved him very much. He particularly enjoyed spending Christmas with the family and the reunions.

Jim spent 31 years focusing on his other love, Florida Tennis magazine. We discussed many times what would happen to Jim’s “baby” when he was no longer the publisher of the magazine. One year ago, a wonderful individual, Matt Pressman, approached Jim about purchasing the magazine and the rest was history. Matt bought Florida Tennis and Jim stayed on as the editor and served as Matt’s mentor. More importantly, Matt became a trusted friend and confidante and has helped to navigate Jim’s passing. There are so many more things I would like to share but I will conclude with a few more thoughts. Jim was in great health in the last year of his life. He walked every day, did yoga, and stayed remarkably active. He truly enjoyed the last year of his life. He was writing prolifically for Florida Tennis and CaneSport, working on books, and he enjoyed covering Canes games. He attended the Delray Beach Open, the Miami Open, the Little Mo, the Junior Orange Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Billie Jean King Cup, the ATA Awards and the US Open. He was seemingly everywhere all the time. It was great to see Chrissie Evert give Jim a warm hug and Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova casually chat with Jim at these events. Watching Jim interact with other great tennis journalists was also memorable.

Above: Jim Martz, Adam Ross, and Bobby Curtis

He also spent tremendous quality time with his family. He enjoyed meals and holiday dinners with friends and family and his “little brothers” from the Big Brothers program.

Unfortunately, he was taken from all of us much too soon when he suffered a stroke during a recent hospital stay. Jim did not suffer. He spent his final moments with his sister. I will miss Jim every day as will his family and friends and all those that he mentored throughout his life. Jim will live on in our hearts and through his journalistic contributions, but mostly through the lives he touched and improved. Thank you to all of the Florida Tennis family for the outpouring of love and support and to those of you throughout the tennis world and beyond that continue to celebrate the wonderful life of the legendary Jim Martz. If the measure of a person is how they positively impacted others, Jim was a giant.


 Adam Ross is a contributing writer for Florida Tennis. He is a volunteer for the USTA Florida and the Vice-President of the Tennis Collectors of America/TCA. He welcomes your questions and comments at This article also appears in the January-February issue of Florida Tennis Magazine.

Editor's Note: If you haven't done so yet, please be sure to RSVP for the Jim Martz Celebration of Life this afternoon — click here for more.

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