Alastair Martin, a top player during tennis' all-amateur era and later the sport's progressive leader who agitated for the inclusion of professionals and for the revolutionary tiebreaker system, died Wednesday at his home in the Westchester community of Katonah. He was 94.
Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1973, Martin had been an eight-time national champion in "court tennis," a form of the sport played in a facility resembling a handball court, as well as a highly ranked player in what was known as "lawn tennis."
He served as U.S. Tennis Association vice president and president during the sport's difficult transition period in the mid- and late 1960s, supporting a British revolt that led the international federation to sanction open play in 1968. He gave official approval to implement Jimmy Van Alen's radical sudden-death tiebreaker system at the 1970 U.S. Open.
"I'm not known to be foolhardy," Martin later was quoted. "My heart was in my throat waiting for one of the star players to criticize it in the heat of battle."
A Long Island native, raised at a Westbury estate and for years a resident of Glen Head as well as Manhattan, Martin also served as president of the Eastern Tennis Association and later was president and chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.
His parents helped finance the construction of the Forest Hills horseshoe stadium that hosted the U.S. championships from 1923 to 1977. Martin attended prep school in California and graduated from Princeton University. But, as a tennis official, he worked to spread the sport beyond the elite. While head of the Eastern Tennis Patrons in the 1960s, he arranged sponsorship of annual clinics in public parks in New York City, Long Island and New Jersey.
Alastair Bradley Martin was born March 11, 1915, and grew up watching most of the noted matches and great players at Forest Hills. Among those he watched practice at his parents' private courts in Westbury was Frank Shields, the 1930 U.S. championship finalist and grandfather to actress Brooke Shields.
Martin later practiced with such tennis luminaries as Bobby Riggs, Pancho Segura and Pancho Gonzales.