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Remembering My Friend, Jim

Remembering My Friend, Jim

I’ll never forget the day that I became part of the Florida Tennis family. I was an intern in the credentials office during the 2018 Delray Beach Open. Adam Ross, a contributing writer and long-time friend of Florida Tennis, walked into the office to pickup his credential. We struck up a conversation. Adam told me a bit about the magazine, and I told him a bit about my background and internship at the tournament. In the first few minutes of our conversation, it was clear to the both of us that we had a shared love of tennis, and could potentially work together in some way. Adam explained to me that Florida Tennis was looking for a tech-savvy intern to bring the magazine into the 21st century. He asked me to meet a man by the name of Jim Martz.

I remember the first time I met Jim. Adam introduced us by the USTA booth next to the courts at the tournament. Jim, as he often was throughout the years that I knew him, was holding some copies of Florida Tennis in his hands. He looked at me in the eyes and gave me a nice firm handshake, which was something I wasn’t used to as a then 17 year old. Our first encounter was brief, but we arranged another meeting to talk more in depth about the magazine and how I could help.

During our second meeting, Jim told me that he wanted to start an Instagram for the magazine. My response was that he’d need a new phone, given that he was one of the few people I’d met in that decade that still used a flip phone. To this day, I have no idea how he ran such a successful operation with that damn flip phone and the landline at his home. Jim promised he’d get an iPhone, and I told him that when my internship was over in Delray Beach, I’d develop a website for the magazine and start writing some articles as well.

After returning to Naples, where I was a senior at the Academia Sánchez-Casal, I spent weeks running the newly-formed Instagram, writing some fun articles, and revitalizing a website that looked like it was from pre-historic times. Often, my school tasks were put aside, not because I didn’t want to do them, but because I was so enthralled with my work at Florida Tennis. Jim and I would spend hours on the phone with each other. Quickly, we formed a friendship that grew beyond our fanatical love of tennis. I never once considered him my boss. He was my mentor and one of my best friends.

By the time I started my internship in the media office at the Miami Open, Jim had his brand new iPhone, and it was there that I showed him how to start posting on Instagram, along with some other important knowledge that came with having a smart phone. We had some great talks while I was on break during my internship, and Jim made every effort he could to introduce me to as many writers as possible. Jim was loved by everyone in that media office. He had this naive, midwestern charm to him that made it virtually impossible not to like him. In the six years that I knew him, I can’t recall anyone saying anything negative about him, or Jim saying a single negative word about anyone else. That’s just the type of person he was. In a world that’s grown increasingly devoid of empathy and kindness, I now recognize how rare that was.

After the Miami Open, Jim arranged a writing opportunity for me at some of the spring ATP tournaments in Europe. He and Adam also helped me promote Legends United, a platform that I founded to raise money for a variety of charities through tennis memorabilia. We had made great progress with Florida Tennis. The Instagram was steadily growing its following, and the website and blog were functioning well.

While I was achieving, and even surpassing many of my professional goals, my personal life was a mess. I moved from San Diego to Naples in part because of tennis, but primarily because of my deteriorating mental health. I struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which causes an individual’s unwanted thoughts, or obsessions, to lead to repetitive behaviors, or compulsions, to a degree where the individual is significantly impaired. As my OCD spun out of control, my mother agreed that sending me to a tennis academy across the country would potentially help improve my mental state. While my mental health did eventually improve, my OCD drove me to break all contact with my friends and family in California after I arrived in Florida. Jim and Adam didn’t know this at the time, but they were the closest thing I had to family.

Above: Jim Martz, Cameron Mofid, and Adam Ross

A few months before I was to start my freshman year at the University of Miami, I decided to take a gap year to pursue my nonprofit, which would soon become a partner of the Nick Kyrgios Foundation, and to continue interning for Florida Tennis. I remember how scared I was in the days and weeks after making my decision to put college on hold. In early June 2018, I moved out of the dorms from my tennis academy in Naples. I found a cheap room on Airbnb in Broward County. For a month, I lived in the in the back room of a man’s house in a not-so-nice neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale. One day, after playing some tennis together, Adam dropped me off at my Airbnb. He wasn’t very comfortable with me staying there, and offered for me to stay with him and his wife before I left on my next trip. He also generously allowed me to use his storage facility for my personal items and for the memorabilia that my nonprofit collected. I left to the the Hall of Fame Open in Newport in mid July.

There was a surgery that I had planned to get upon my return from the Northeast. I wanted to fix a breathing problem in my nose, which would require me being cared for during the weeks after the procedure. As I said, Jim and Adam were two of the closest people in my life, and so naturally, they were the ones that I first thought of reaching out to. Given that Adam is a full-time mediator, it made sense for me to stay with Jim. Our friendship spanned far beyond our roles at Florida Tennis.

On the day of my surgery, Jim and I woke up early in the morning and drove from Pembroke Pines to South Miami, as I was the first operation on the surgeon’s schedule. When we arrived, the staff was thrilled to meet the great Jim Martz. It turns out that they had been reading his articles for decades, back when he was writing at the Miami Herald. This wasn’t a surprise to me, as Jim’s articles were read for decades by people all over South Florida, and often all over the world.

For the weeks after my surgery, Jim drove me back and fourth for my follow up appointments, helped me ice my wounds, and even changed my bandages. We’d sit in his living room and watch hours of Tennis Channel. I watched as he assembled an edition of Florida Tennis, which was an extremely complicated multi-step process that could be compared to that of a difficult puzzle. Every morning, I’d watch Jim, who was then in his mid-70s, workout on his patio with a series of dynamic exercises. We shared stories. We’d go for lunch together. On one particularly memorable afternoon, we took the late Bobby Curtis out for ice cream on his birthday. Lots of laughs were shared that day. The following month, Jim helped me find and move into an apartment in Boca Raton.

In early February, I had never heard of the name Jim Martz. Just a few months later, I was living with him. I learned a lot from Jim, and I’d like to think that he learned a lot from me too. Looking back, Jim, Adam, and I shared a unique friendship, and it’s something that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. A student in his adolescence, a mediator in his 50s, and a publisher in his 70s. We were generations apart. It turns out that age really is often just a number. Our bond is proof of that.

I started at the University of Miami a year later. I stayed active with Florida Tennis, continuing to update the website and publishing the magazine online. Mental health awareness became a passion of mine, and Jim gave me the opportunity to launch a series in the magazine. We called it “Love All: Inspiring Mental Health Through Tennis,” where we published memoirs from the tennis community about their experience with mental health. Shortly after World Mental Health Day in 2021, I published my mental health memoir in the magazine. It meant the world to me to share something so personal in a magazine that had been such a major part of my life.

Earlier this year, at the Miami Open, I was lucky to run into Matt Pressman, the now publisher and executive editor of Florida Tennis. Jim called me a few months ago to talk about the details of the sale of the magazine, and what he had planned for the next chapter of his life. He was thrilled that the magazine was in good hands and for the book projects he had on the horizon. That man never wanted to stop writing. Writing lit his soul on fire, and he wanted to keep the flame alive until the very end. I didn’t know that call would be the last time I spoke to him.

A few hours after Jim’s passing, Adam called me. I didn’t immediately process the news. It wasn’t until I woke up in the middle of the night, that it hit me. My long time friend and mentor Jim Martz was no longer with us. I started crying. Reflecting on our many memories, I sent Jim’s phone a text, thanking him for all that he did for me and those around him. I wish that I could look him in the eyes and give him the same firm handshake that he gave me the day we first met. It’s only now that I realize the scope of how much Jim did for me, and how lucky I was to have such a loving friend and mentor. He treated me like family in every sense of the word.

When I met Jim, I was a depressed 17-year-old. Now, I’m 23. I graduated as valedictorian from my MBA class from the University of Miami. I’ve given a TEDx Talk and been featured on The Today Show. I’ve been to over 150 countries on my mission to visit every country in the world. All of those accomplishments are in part a result of the love and kindness that Jim showed me at a time when I needed it the most.

Jim, thanks for all the kindness, stories, and memories. Thanks for looking out for me when it felt like no one else was. I’ll miss you so much. In fact, I already do. Rest in peace my dear friend.

Love, Cameron


Cameron Mofid is a Florida Tennis contributor and former tennis player. He competed on the ITF Junior Tour, where he held a world ranking. He founded the charitable platform Legends United at 17 years old, and he was later recruited to develop Nick Kyrgios’ NK Foundation at professional tennis tournaments across the world. 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 event tomorrow — click here for more.

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