SLC's Coach Mike holds serve, thanks to home crowd's support
Salt Lake City tennis icon Mike Martines is still serving up tennis.
Coach Mike, as he is known, was recently awarded tennis concession contracts at Salt Lake City's Dee Glen Smith Tennis Park and Liberty Park.
The contract brings to a close a contentious process that initially had eliminated Martines' affiliation with Dee Glen Smith, where for 17 years he operated Coach Mike's Tennis Academy.
Salt Lake City officials determined in 2013 to issue a request for proposal for Dee Glen Smith and Liberty together, rather than separately, as they have done traditionally.
When Martines was not awarded the bid, 200 people from the tennis community packed a City Council public hearing and demanded that Martines be reinstated.
Although the council does not award contracts, the message got through to the office of Mayor Ralph Becker.
It was, according to Becker spokesman Art Raymond, "a teaching moment" for the administration.
During his years at Dee Glen Smith, located near the mouth of Emigration Canyon, Martines was instrumental in bringing in $500,000 in private-sector funding to improve the city tennis facility.
Susan Daynes, who works at the tennis center, said Martines "built this up with his own two hands."
In an interview Thursday, Martines, 68, said he was "thrilled to death."
"I hope the community is, too," he said. "I feel honored that I was so supported."
Martines said he and his management team will bring to Liberty Park what they created at Coach Mike's Tennis Academy at Dee Smith.
Bruce Wood, a tennis supporter agrees.
"It's a great day for public tennis," he said. "Coach Mike will bring the same magic [from Mike's Academy] down to Liberty Park.