Aug. 15, 2011
LOS ANGELES - UCLA's Billy Martin and Franklin Johnson were recently inducted into the Southern California Tennis Association Hall of Fame, as the section held its annual gala at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills on August 5.
Along with Martin and Johnson, the SCTA also inducted Dorothy Head Knode, Kathy May Fritz, Pat Canning Todd, Dick Leach and Billie Jean King.
Below are two write ups on Martin and Johnson that appeared in the Hall of Fame program. They were written by Mark Winters of the Southern California Tennis Association.
In April 2001, Florida Tennis Magazine carried a story about the All-Time Junior Champions. Phil Secada, the author, analyzed data for over 1,000 players and in the end, named Billy Martin, the best junior boys competitor of the past 50 years. (Peaches Bartkowicz was named the top girl for the same period.)
"Billy the Kid", as Robert R. Bradford called him in a story written about the 12-year-old reaching the semifinals of the National Boys' 16 Championships, was a startlingly impressive junior. As Secada said, "Billy Martin, in the 1970s, was the only boy in history to win two junior Wimbledons and two junior US Open titles. Martin, formerly from River Forest, Illinois before his family relocated to Palos Verdes Estates, California, turned pro after winning the NCAA championships as a UCLA freshman in 1975. (He was undefeated that season.) He reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals two years later and briefly cracked the Top 20, but a chronic hip injury forced him into early retirement."
In addition, Martin was the Orange Bowl winner in back-to-back years, (1973 and '74), and in 1975, he also led UCLA to the NCAA team championship. Following his first season on the tour, he was named Rookie of the Year in 1976.
Before he left the pros, Martin evidenced his game's diversity winning a singles title on carpet, and three doubles championships, one each on hard court, grass and terre battue. In 1980, he teamed with Anne Smith to take the Roland Garros mixed doubles title defeating Renata Tomanova and Stanislav Briner 2-6, 6-4, 8-6 in the final.
Being a ferocious competitor, limping into the sunset wasn't easy. Now, after surgery on both hips, Martin has just completed his 28th year on the UCLA tennis staff. Replacing Glenn Bassett, a 2005 Southern California Tennis Association Hall of Fame inductee, he became only the fourth men's tennis coach (following Bill Ackerman, JD Morgan and Bassett) in school history in 1994.
In his years running the program, Martin's teams are always among the best in the country. In 2005, he led UCLA to its first NCAA title since 1984. The come-from-behind 4-3 victory, over top-seed and undefeated Baylor, was the school's sixteenth Men's NCAA Tennis Team Championship. The decision snapped Baylor's 57-match winning streak, the second longest in NCAA history and avenged the team's 4-0 loss to the Bears in the 2004 NCAA Final.
Martin was inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Tennis Hall of Fame in 1996, the same year he was named ITA Coach of the Year and Pac-10 Coach of the Year). He is the only individual to win an NCAA team championship as both a player and a coach.
Under his guidance, Benjamin Kohlloeffel won the 2006 NCAA singles championship. Justin Gimelstob and Srdjan Muskatirovic took home the NCAA doubles trophy in 1995. Along with Manny Diaz of Georgia, Martin is the only other men's coach to have a "Triple Crown", winning an NCAA team title, and having players earn singles and doubles honors.
One thing that is certain, given his dominance as a player and coach, Billy Martin is no longer a "kid."
Franklin (Frank) Johnson
From an historical standpoint, some very famous people have carried the name Johnson. The group includes former US presidents, authors, a painter as well as, a British government administrator in the Colonial days.
Another collection of Johnsons made an impact on and around the courts. Included in this group is Wallace, a finalist to Bill Tilden at the 1921 US National Championships, and Walter, the patron of future stars such as Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe. There is even a Franklin R. Johnson, who is a member of the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame. But, the real Franklin (Frank) R. Johnson is a Southern California product, and a former President of the Southern California Tennis Association and the United States Tennis Association.
His USTA leadership will be remembered for the naming of the National Tennis Center after Billie Jean King, and the effort to return public park tennis to prominence, as well as his forever smile and his always have time to listen attitude.
Frank (which he prefers) Johnson grew up in San Diego and was an outstanding junior player, having collected two gold balls as the National Boy's 15 Hard Court Championships singles and doubles champion in 1951. Two years later, he doubled again, capturing the National Boy's 18 Hard Court singles and doubles.
"I had just started to play tennis," said Allen Fox, a member of the Southern California Tennis Association Board of Directors and a 2002 Hall of Fame inductee. "He came to Arizona and won the Junior Open. He had an interesting game that was very aggressive. He hit the ball hard and looked so good. He was a Southern California star. At the time, he was the best player I had ever seen. When I moved to Los Angeles and began practicing at UCLA, I would see him. Over the years, when we have been together, I always mention the match he played destroying a guy named Russell at the Junior Open."
At UCLA, where he majored in accounting, Johnson played for the legendary J.D. Morgan, lettering in1956 through '58. The '56 team won the NCAA Championship. "One of the outstanding collegiate doubles players in the nation" according to Morgan, he helped the Bruins win three consecutive Pacific Coast Conference titles.
After earning his MBA at UCLA, Johnson worked at Price Waterhouse LLP, for 36 years. In time, he became Managing Partner of the company's Entertainment Industry division. For 21 years, he was responsible for overseeing the Academy Award balloting.
Though business kept him counting, Johnson found time to play an active role in the game. He has been the chairman of the Farmers Classic Tournament Committee (and is now a member of the Tournament Committee), and served on the USTA Board of Directors. He was able to lend his skills to a variety of national committees before assuming the presidency.
The 2007 Samuel Hardy Award recipient and a member of the 2008 San Diego District Hall of Fame induction class, he is currently, a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum Board of Directors.