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Black History Month Profile Martin Blackman

Martin Blackman on court
February 29, 2016 04:56 PM
USTA Training Center HQ, Boca Raton, Fla.

Martin Blackman, general manager of USTA Player Development since June 2015, has been playing tennis since he was a child and credits some of his early success to Long Island.  “My dad taught at Hofstra during the summer,” he says. “When I was 10 years old, I tried out for a program at Port Washington Tennis Academy and was accepted,” but, he says, his family couldn’t afford the lessons until PWTA Dick Zausner, offered him a scholarship.

Says Blackman, “…at every step along the way, somebody opened a door to give me an opportunity I really couldn’t afford.  My heritage as an African-American person and player means it’s my responsibility and my privilege to give back.”

As a junior, Blackman trained with legendary coach Nick Bolleteri, alongside future greats Andre Agassi and Jim Courier. He won the USTA Boys’ 16s National Championship in 1986 and reached the Boys’ 18s final two years later. He was a member of two NCAA Championship teams at Stanford University and played at the ATP level, reaching a career-high of #158.

In 1998, Blackman became the head men’s tennis coach at American University, leading the Eagles to three conference titles, two NCAA Tournament appearances and their first-ever national ranking. He joined the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md. As Director in 2004 and helped build it into one of the premier junior training centers in America.

Blackman’s proposal to the USTA — recommending that it partner with the best junior development programs across the nation — led to the creation of the USTA Regional Training Center network.  Blackman joined the USTA in 2009 as Senior Director of Talent Identification and Development, overseeing the implementation of the Regional Training Center program. He also served as a co-leader of the Coaching Education Department and was USTA Player Development’s leader for Diversity and Inclusion. He left the USTA in late 2011 to found the Blackman Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Fla.

Today, Blackman partners with the US tennis community to identify and develop the next generation of world-class American tennis players.  He oversees both the USTA’s Player Development staff and Training Centers, including its Regional Training Center  network, and the Player Development facilities at the soon-to-be-created USTA National Campus in Orlando. 

When asked his thoughts on attracting more African-American players to the sport, Blackman said, “A big step was the African-American Coaches Symposium the USTA held in December. It gave us a connection with pros who weren’t connected to the USTA.

Looking at our up and coming African American players … everything begins with what Serena and Venus have done for the game. There has been no bigger positive impact that … a family could have on American tennis than they have had,” he says.

Please click here to see a video interview with Blackman on his biggest tennis influences. Please click here for a slide presentation of Up-and-Coming African-American tennis players.

Blackman can be reached at blackman@usta.com.