Reader Comments & Stories
I had the good fortune of crossing paths with Marty while attending Rider on a Baseball scholarship in the early 1970s. As part of my deal I was assigned to work in Marty’s intramural program. Now I considered myself a jock having played numerous sports well at the high school and college levels. Working for Marty, that notion was called into suspect after listening to his stories. I still can recall two stories that defined his superior athletic conditioning and multisport abilities. The first was telling me that to tax his cardio system he would swim the circumference of the Rider Olympic-sized pool on a single breath, not once but throughout his swim, one breath per lap! The other, of his ski patrol rescues above altitudes most humans would pass out from oxygen deprivation.
A decade later our paths crossed again as I joined the Parkview Tennis club. During the winter I recall helping Marty clear the Rider tennis courts of snow, and warming the tennis balls with a hibachi so they would bounce. We played alongside each other in those days, he and Kenny Wilson or Scott Stoner they stood atop the Parkview ladder. Myself and Lenny Katz and others shared the courts but not their abilities. It was always a fun time until it was not, you see I drew Marty in a tennis tourney, of course I know I had no shot. So leading up to the match I’d bust his tennis balls telling him he was old, over rated and washed up, and I was going to clean his clock. Lenny and others in good fun chimed in supporting my notion. Marty with that smile just said Oh boy Scott you are in trouble. Well my day of reckoning came 0 and 1 but that did not tell his true dominance. My Achilles heel was my backhand so Marty hit EVERY shot to it, lol.
I was in awe of Marty and still am. He was and still is the greatest athlete I’ve ever encountered.
December 23, 2022
We go back to the early 60’s when I started taking your group diving lessons on Saturday mornings at Trenton State College. When I started to dive competitively in AAU meets, my group lessons with you turned to private lessons during the summer months at Greenacres Country Club. I have fond memories of those days. I arrived early in the morning before the pool opened to the country club membership. We always started each lesson with drills to fine tune my diving fundamentals. The first part of every practice consisted of hurdle jumps to make sure I achieved the proper height and distance from the board. After I was solid on the fundamentals, I gained the confidence to execute all the difficult dives that propelled me to a successful diving career in high school and led to a scholarship to Dartmouth College.
Although my college diving career was cut short after I punctured my eardrum, I learned a valuable life lesson from Marty’s coaching. Take the time to build a solid foundation. The effort will pay off when you are expected to take on the difficult “dives” in life.
Marty, you have had a significant impact on my life and many others. Thanks so much You are the best!
March 11, 2022
I first met Marty on the front courts of Rider playing tennis around 1974. I’m sure he would not remember me but you could never forget him. Loved to watch him play with those 2 forehands and always a smile on his face.
I have 2 brief great memories of Marty as follows,
1. We were playing on front courts one spring afternoon after class and Marty pulls up in his van (that he lived in for a summer behind the Rider gym) and comes out with a bunch of Prince rackets; we had never seen that size before.
He called us all over with his usual; “hey you little rascals come over here and try these out” and we did and asked him if they were allowed and he said of course and loved them
2. The other one – I was a commuter and used to walk past the front courts after classes to get to my car and every day, even in the winter with the snow shoveled off the one court, there was Marty and Ken playing sets with hoodies and sweats on – every day in February in the freezing cold
Great Guy, saw him in many tournaments beating guys have his age as the human backboard, no matter how hard the young guys hit, he returned them with that wristy forehand and put the shot in perfect spots and deep.
Marc Costantino 76 grad Rider
My name is Susan Hart. I am fortunate enough to play on Marty’s Monday tennis drill. In All the years I’ve been playing, the drill on Monday is my favorite. Marty includes Great tennis, life lessons (with His own personal touch) a great workout, and by the time I leave, I not only feel better physically, but most definitely mentally. He has a way of making each person feel special. I’ve never met anyone like Marty. My only complaint is I didn’t start with Marty sooner (needed that invite into the group, which I finally received:) I must say, Marty has brought Me not only a better sense of the game of tennis, but a better sense of the game of Life. Marty is My Hero. Thank You.
Not much can be added to Marty’s life of accomplishments that hasn’t been said before.
I met Marty some 40 years ago, when he was dragged along by the late Stanley Dlugosz into the Mount Snow Ski Patrol locker room. Marty instantly fit in, and he and Stan were quickly given the moniker, the “Tag Team.” Saw one you saw them both. Between them they left a legacy of lasting stories and tales about them.
One thing I shall always remember is the lasting bond between them, along with care and compassion Marty showed to Stan and his family during the last difficult years of Stan’s life.
Whoever coined the phrase “Do the right thing even if no one is looking” surely met Marty Devlin at least once.
Mount Snow Ski Patrol
Marty Marty Marty…. my Old Buddy. I just have to say that I knew Marty when he was a perfect size 34 waist fit model for me. In our time together at Prince I had him portraying himself as a variety of characters ( remembering Popeye in particular) and wearing coconut bras and hula skirts. I could go on and on with Marti stories. He is one of my favorite and most admired friends. He is always up for anything. He never said no. My life is fuller knowing him. I pray you live forever my friend.
In 2006, I was trying to make a splash in my first year in the USTA 45 and over division. I believe I lost in 4 finals that year. One particular devastating loss was a 3rd set tiebreaker loss in the first round of the South Jersey Open at Millcreek in Willingboro. It was played on Omni-turf and I had never played on it. I fell five times in the first game. It was embarrassing. I had no idea what I was doing. In 2007, Marty had converted his har tru court to Omni . I told him what had happened the previous year and how that loss still bothered me. He started to teach me how to play on the Turf. He used words like scoot and scat while describing ball spins. He made me understand how the court would play depending on the amount of sand that was mixed into the court. I practiced religiously at “ The Swamp” before the 2007 SJ Open. I won the event fairly easily defeating my nemesis from the year before in the semis and the defending champ in the finals, all in straight sets. Marty’s prep work with me was flawless. I was so prepared to play on that surface. They had another 45 event there later in the summer, and again I won the tournament without dropping a set. I owe Marty big time for taking the time to work with me. The picture attached is Marty receiving USTA service award and me with the # 1 ranking at The NJ District Award ceremony in 2007. Thank you Marty for being a great friend.
Marty and Mike Ehrenberg at The NJ District Award ceremony in 2007
Chuck and Marty at the Devlin family home in Trenton, NJ
A WANNABE AND THE REAL THING
Many of us love participating in sports – the competition and camaraderie, but few few of us attain our dreams of excellence. We are the wannabes, those who can only dream of greatness. And then there are those, who at any sport they attempt, are naturally and superbly gifted; they are the real thing.
I was twenty-one years old and had had little contact with Marty, who was away pursuing a baseball career. So, on a cold February day I accepted an invitation to go skiing with Marty and Trish. Marty would eventually spend many years on the ski patrol in Vermont. I had never been on skis in my life. But I knew one thing: Trish’s renowned athletic brother wasn’t going to show me up. My competition boiler was maxed out, but my brain was completely turned off. Arriving at the mountain, I promptly boarded the lift which took us to the top of the slope. Never mind that I had no idea what I was doing. After all, as long as I was there, Marty wasn’t the only great athlete on the hill. Marty said he’d wait for me part way down the mountain. He then pushed off and began a graceful dissent on the hard packed, ice-encrusted snow. A few minutes later I began mine. Suddenly, I realized that I didn’t know how to stop or even control my speed. I was falling faster than a hungry falcon, but a falcon knows how to stop. I didn’t. With each granular of snow that slipped under them my skis accelerated exponentially. The skis were rocketing down the mountain fast enough for an olympic qualifier. My problem? I was strapped to them. My skis were on methamphetamine, and I was out of control. Marty came into view, waiting for me on the first plateau. I rewarded his patience by running over the back of his skis before continuing my insane roar down the mountain. Approaching a mogul, I attempted to jump it, landed on my chest, slid a hundred yards, and brought myself to a smooth stop by crashing into the snow fence in front of the lodge. And that is the difference between a wannabe and the real thing.
In his mid-thirties Marty took up tennis. He asked me to play. I won the first set. After that, I never won another set. In fact, I’m not sure I ever won another game or even a point. A few years later he was a nationally ranked player. We hold that all men are created equal, but it just isn’t so.
Marty had just ended his professional baseball career as a player and manager. One day, he invited me to play golf at a local club where he was teaching swimming while completing college. He hadn’t touched a golf club in five years. I flirted with a 100 while Marty shot a 77. Afterwords, with total sincerity, he explained that golf was really a simple game. All that is necessary is to place the club face squarely on the ball and push it forward. If only it were that simple! And that, too, is the difference between a wannabe and the real thing.
Chuck Delehey (Marty’s Brother-in-law)
I moved East and joined Prince in 1987 to head up the R&D team. I was a tennis playing engineer, and Prince was the #1 brand. With trepidation and a good dose of anxiety, I looked forward to the new adventure. Little did I know what kind of dynamic culture existed at Prince. As I became engulfed by that passion, I soon learned Marty was the nucleus of that energy.
We met on the court behind the Lawrenceville office. Mary was mighty glad to meet another “‘ol buddy” and we were soon in battle. Being much younger, I figured this was a polite hit. Except the ball kept coming back. And wait, where’s the backhand? I was caught several times admiring how he did it, and sweating it out how to beat him. Marty was laughing all the time. I think at one point it started raining. Marty laughed harder and it inspired me.
Marty was a mentor to me for interpersonal skills and public speaking. I was a bit shy, and Marty educated me about how to connect to people. I remember we were about to go into an event, and Marty said our job was to meet everyone there in the first 30 minutes. It was character building. It took me out of my comfort zone. We did it at every event. I became more extroverted and more complete.
Public speaking was another skill Marty taught. It wasn’t about what was said, it was about how it was said. Marty taught the art of delivery, and how to make what was said memorable. That was why he wore the crown and cape! He captivated the crowd at every demo day. He taught Ken Merritt how to become the greatest on court entertainer. I soaked up all I could and became a better presenter thanks to ‘ol buddy.
Marty’s fascination with racquet equipment kept me busy tweaking and adjusting to help him find “a better angle” to play better tennis. The LongBody technology was most interesting to Marty. Marty figured longer was better. It would help him cover more court, and help his serve. Prince had racquets at 29 inches, but Marty wanted more. He was looking for the longest and largest racquet possible. I think the longest we could mold was 30 inches, and we made up some prototypes. Marty devised a way to move his hands up and down the racquet handle as needed, of course keeping the double forehands. He would experiment with string tension, having racquets every 5 lbs, and switching when conditions warranted it. Marty was always learning, always experimenting, always asking questions of how he could improve. This is how Marty inspires. We all should do the same.
That was the most dramatic entrance I’ve ever seen in my life for a guest speaker. It was epic. Just out of nowhere, Marty Devlin walks into the classroom and erupts like a volcano……His story would make an incredible Hollywood film.
DK, Rider University, New Jersey
Hearing about Marty’s life story and his perseverance in sports was remarkable. I hope that one day when I am 83 I am able to live with just as much excitement and happiness that he does.
MC, Rider University, New Jersey
I have enough storied to write another book on Marty. I think the most rewarding times I spent with Marty were the times he came up to the Orange Lawn Tennis Club to play in the 80 and over National Grass Court Championships. He’d stay with me, we’d practice together and then scout his opponent, I’d watch his match and then we’d go to dinner and go back to my place and talk all night. It was amazing to come full circle from the times he coached me at Rider to me coaching him in the 80’s. I couldn’t be more proud.
Steve Diamond, USPTA
When I was a kid growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, I would be the first one to grab the Reader’s Digest when it got delivered to our house. I would immediately turn to “The Most Unforgettable Character I’ve Met” story and excitably read beginning to end. These individuals became my secret heroes. In 1970, as a freshman at Rider College, I met one of these “Most Unforgettable Characters” in person, Marty Devlin. His influence on my life took many twists and turns thru the years as we battled on the tennis court. But it was his attitude about life that never ceased to amaze me. The positivity was overwhelming! Thanks Marty for being a friend and a mentor for the past 51 years. You are my “Most Unforgettable Character I’ve Met”.
Not a day goes by that I don’t hear your voices and words of wisdom as I move through my day. We all will continue to work to attain your level of excellence.
Director of Ambassador Program at Mt. Snow, Vermont
Listening about how he turned nothing into something was amazing and the fact that he did it over and over again was special. Leaving the class that night I had a different perspective on work ethic and attitude.
BR, Rider University, New Jersey
Marty continues to amaze me. He had an audience of 90 to 100 Texas (tennis) teaching professionals on the edge of their seats.
In all my travels, I have yet to encounter or work with a person who can match the raw enthusiasm, the dynamic energy, and the positive impact that Marty Devlin generates during his presentations.
Marty Devlin, Mr. Energy, gave a very inspiring presentation at the 2003 USPTA Eastern Division Convention at the National Tennis Center……I think if we all take a step back and look at our lives and our professions, we will see the importance of Marty’s subject. Tennis: A curriculum for Life hits home on many fronts. If you get another chance to see him speak, I suggest you jump on the opportunity. It can improve your life both on and off the court.
SD, former VP of USPTA Eastern and two-time Eastern President
You were the coach who knew his baseball. One day you spent quite a while teaching me how to throw a curveball. You had me stand over a peach basket and another player handed me the ball and had me properly rotate the ball so it would curve downward when pitched. I don’t think anyone else came close to my curve. I can remember players swinging at it when it hit the dirt. All thanks to you!
BC, Trenton State College, New Jersey
Fantastic! Greater than expected! Twelve hours of supreme enjoyment! Tactful and effective salesmanship! You must be commended for the greatest promotional vehicle since the “Flying Lady” on the Rolls-Royce. I’ve been in the club business over 20 years and I have never had members as excited over a program or a product line.
You are an inspiration to all. You bring talent, humor, kindness, and skill to your coaching. You teach tennis and so much more.
A&RS, Trenton, New Jersey
If ever I had a role model as a kid, it surely was Marty Devlin, I can remember my father taking my brothers and me to watch Marty play. His moves on the field were something to behold. He was the Pete Rose (Charley Hustle) of the Trenton baseball hierarchy. He was always moving and encouraging all of his teammates. I could hear his constant chatter on the field the entire game, whether his team was at bat or on the defense. Never stopped!!! His focus and love for the game was truly an inspiration for me and my brothers. His talent as an athlete went without saying. I could have only hoped that that same intensity and desire to compete would rub off on me as I began to advance as a ballplayer. Quite a unique guy, and one I’m lucky to have known all these years later.
DB, Ewing Township, New Jersey
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