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Martin dies at 94

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Alastair Martin, a longtime amateur tennis champion who helped transform the game by opening major tournaments to professionals, has died. He was 94.

Martin died Tuesday of natural causes, his family said Friday.

He was a longtime champion of court tennis, a predecessor of modern tennis that was usually played indoors or in walled courtyards. The International Tennis Hall of Fame says he won 18 national titles in singles and doubles between 1933 and 1971. Martin also competed in modern tennis championships in the 1930s and 1940s.

He was vice president of the U.S. Tennis Association in 1967-68 and president in 1969-70, as the amateur era gave way and major tournaments opened to professionals.

He and Robert Kelleher, who was USTA president in 1967-68, pushed for including pros, and the rules changed in 1968.

Before then, tennis players who turned professional to make money were not permitted to play in the U.S. Championships, now known as the U.S. Open, or the other Grand Slam tournaments.

"There were a lot of people who felt amateurs were getting paid under the table, but mostly people wanted to know who's better, the amateurs or the pros," said tennis great Tony Trabert, who won Wimbledon, the French Open and U.S. championships as an amateur in 1955. "They said, 'Let's put them together and find out.'

"Kelleher and Martin engineered that in this country, and that allowed players like Ken Rosewall, Pancho Gonzalez, Lew Hoad and Rod Laver to play," said Trabert, president of the Hall of Fame. "It's what sports fans wanted."

Laver, for example, won the Grand Slam as an amateur in 1962 but then turned pro and could not play in the majors again until 1968. He won the Grand Slam again, as a pro, in 1969.

"Tennis just took off from there," Trabert said Friday. "It really blossomed. I won Wimbledon in 1955 as an amateur and got a 10-pound gift certificate to a sporting goods store. I think it was worth $27. Now you're a millionaire."

Martin was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973.

Martin is survived by a son, a daughter, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. His wife, Edith, died in 1989.

Arrangements were private.