August 11th, 2016
Recently my wife and I experienced a lovely getaway to Newport, Rhode Island. In addition to enjoying the restaurants, shops and boats, we spent much of our time at the International Tennis Hall of Fame Club (ITHF) playing tennis.
While talking to the ITHF Director of Tennis, I began to learn about the mission of the ITHF and its respective museum located right on the grounds of the tennis club. As I learned more, it was clear to me that the ITHF was trying to accomplish very much the same things families are trying to accomplish when it comes to legacy.
Intrigued, I asked the Pro on staff about writing an article about the ITHF and he gladly introduced me to the CEO, Todd Martin (retired from tennis now, but once ranked # 4 in the world representing the US).
Todd Martin was very busy overseeing a tournament of top ranked tennis players from around the world, however, he generously brought me to his office to talk.
He even allowed me to videotape him as well for my blog. Needless to say, it was a very good conversation.
Here is that short video covering the mission of the ITHF. Below it, a couple of important excerpts from my interview with Todd:
Q&A with Todd Martin
Richard Orlando: Why is it important to preserve and promote the history of the sport and celebrate the champions that made that history?
Todd Martin: It’s important on many fronts, but two key ways: 1) the achievements of the greats and the course that our sport has taken tell a story that deserves to live perpetually; 2) history informs and inspires, and therefore will serve as a viable contributor to the growth of the sport of tennis in the future.
Richard Orlando: How has the ITHF captured the stories, traditions, artifacts of tennis and the champions that are now honored and memorialized in the ITHF?
Todd Martin: The museum at the International Tennis Hall of Fame is an extraordinary representation of our sport’s history. More than 2,000 artifacts of tennis history are displayed, and we have many thousands more. The collection features one-of-a-kind artifacts from the game’s greatest moments and our champions, art, literature, photos, videos and much more.
We utilize the collection to share the sport’s inspiring stories in compelling ways – video exhibits, art installations, interactive games that serve to educate, and more.
The collection has been developed through a variety of means. Many tennis champions and members of their inner circles – family members, sponsors, agents, etc. – donate pieces to the collection, individuals who are avid collectors donate or loan to the museum, and as an organization, we are set up to invest strategically in building the collection ourselves.
Richard Orlando: What do you hope this mission accomplishes for the next generation of the sport and the NextGen players?
Todd Martin: History has the ability to bring generations together and inspire the future. Laver was Sampras’ role model, Federer was inspired by Sampras, this chain will continue because we can only guess how many future icons of the game will have been inspired by Federer.
As a result, the “next gen” players will know the generations of players before them better than ever before.
Plus, one of our key strategies is to “serve with a philanthropic focus.” In order to do so, we have partnered with the ITF to assist with their player development program which serves aspiring players from developing nations. Quite likely, players from 3rd world countries who become the next “next gen” will have been touched by this program.
As well, I am motivated for us to serve the local community here in Newport by providing tennis and education programming to the at-risk population in the future.
I learned a lot during my talk with Todd Martin. Mostly, that their approach is also a great model for families when it comes to preserving a legacy for future generations. Here are three best practices to benefit your family:
1. Have a mission for your family.
“…history informs and inspires, and therefore will serve as a viable contributor to the growth…”
2. Capture the family story via video, photos, and other mementos.
“We utilize the collection to share the sport’s inspiring stories in compelling ways…”
3. Inspire your NextGen.
“History has the ability to bring generations together and inspire the future. Laver was Sampras’ role model, Federer was inspired by Sampras, this chain will continue…”
I would encourage anyone who enjoys watching or playing the game of tennis to visit the ITHF and if you are so inclined, make a donation (https://www.tennisfame.com/annualfund) to help support their mission and legacy.
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