Mike Martines, affectionately known as “Coach Mike” throughout the tennis community, has operated Coach Mike’s Tennis Academy at Oak Hills for nearly 20 years. Coach Mike is a pillar of the local Utah tennis community. His contributions to Utah are not limited to tennis. He also seeks to provide a better environment for at-risk youth, as well as improve the overall social climate of Utah. By taking the run-down city tennis park and turning it into a state of the art tennis facility, as well as raising close to a million dollars to upgrade the facility, Coach Mike did more than just transform the dilapidated courts into a gem of a tennis mecca. He built a community that changes lives through tennis.
Coach Mike Martines believes that sharing his passion for tennis with the community, especially the youth, is his true calling. Time and time again, he has shown his commitment to his students and the game of tennis. “I enjoy watching the improvement of my students. Seeing them excel and enjoy the game always makes my day that much better,” he says. Diversity is key, and also one of Coach Mike’s strengths. He has the ability to teach students from all types of backgrounds, ages, abilities, and nationalities and help bring their skills to fruition.
As a kid, Coach Mike remembers what it was like to play tennis at Liberty Park, one of Utah’s historic landmarks. He started playing tennis at 5 years old, with his older brother as his first teacher. They would walk from their childhood house on Kelsey Ave. everyday to perfect their court skill set. Many tournaments were played at Liberty Park, where young Coach Mike worked as a ball boy and eventually became a professional at the age of 13.
Coach Mike had the honor of playing with the esteemed Arthur Ashe in his heyday, during an era that defined both tennis, as well as Civil Rights. In 1961 and 1963, Coach was the number one singles champ at East High, a feat which has yet to be duplicated. He went on to play doubles with acclaimed star Jim Osbourne on the Utah University team, playing in two NCAA Championships. He was also a nationally ranked player (he was number one in 1997, the same year he won the Utah Player of the Year Award). Furthermore, Coach Mike serves on the board for the USTA Intermountain Tennis Association.
In 2001, he was awarded the prestigious David Freed award, a seldom bestowed upon honor, that celebrates an individual’s commitment to service excellence in the Utah region. In 2014, Martines was honorably inducted into the prestigious Utah Hall of Fame, with his “Facilities of the Year” award.
“The beginning of a journey begins with a single step” is a quote that is applicable to Coach Mike’s experience, as his accomplishments are now coming full circle. He has now turned Liberty Park, the same park where his love of tennis began, into a true institution for the people. Coach has established a community for the youth to grow and develop, not only in their tennis skills, but also the skills they need to become productive members of society, a true testament to his influential character. Liberty Park’s transformation into a zenith standard for the community is the legacy of Coach Mike, a golden standard which will etch its way into the chronicles of time and Utah’s celebrated history of tennis. This is the place where Coach Mike will finish his storied career.