NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — Former tennis player Todd Martin has taken on a new challenge: Transforming the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum into a global mecca for all things tennis.
With the one-year anniversary of his appointment approaching, the new CEO said he's focused on making sure the facility based in Rhode Island lives up to its international title by building relationships with major tennis organization around the globe.
Martin is hoping to use his tennis background to foster relationships with leaders in the sport's largest organizations and professional tours, such as ATP and WTA.
"My vision is that we play a more and more integral role in the global sport of tennis," Martin said.
Board Chairman Christopher Clouser said the former world No. 4 player was chosen to lead the Hall's international expansion because he's a prominent figure in the tennis world, known not only as an athlete but also as a leader.
Martin was a finalist at the 1999 U.S. Open and the 1994 Australian Open. He played on the U.S. Davis Cup team from 1994 to 2002, and helped the U.S. win the title in 1995. Martin won eight singles titles and four doubles titles. He retired from professional tennis in 2004 but has been on the board of the U.S. Tennis Association for many years, and he is a regular at the Grand Slam tournaments.
After accepting the position with the Hall of Fame in 2014, Martin moved his entire family from Jacksonville, Florida, to Newport, leaving behind his own tennis academy and unfinished business ventures.
"I love to compete. I think competitors love challenges and opportunities," Martin said. "This organization is loaded with opportunities."
Martin began working at the Hall of Fame in April 2014 and took over as CEO in September. Former CEO Mark L. Stenning stepped down after 35 years with the organization, including 14 years as CEO. He continues to work on special projects for the Hall, including its overhaul.
Unlike other sports halls of fame, the Tennis Hall has international inductees, so it's important to Martin and Clouser that it represents tennis globally, not just in the United States.
To achieve this, the Hall is undergoing of a $15 million capital campaign, the largest in its history, to build new facilities and renovate its 60-year-old museum. After a $3 million makeover, the museum reopened in May with new technology, including a hologram of 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer of Switzerland. Martin said the updates are getting rave reviews from visitors.
But museum attendance will not be the main metric for success, Martin said.
"I think the Hall of Fame can really influence the sport," he said.