Marty Godwin’s passion for tennis
reaches from Hollywood to Cape Region
Teacher to the stars comes home to teach sport he loves
By Ron MacArthur
Cape Gazette staff
Marty Godwin has come home to teach the sport he loves. “To bring people to the game,” he says.
And admittedly, it’s a little step down from his last gig.
Godwin was tennis pro to the families of stars in Los Angeles. His first client was songwriter/singer Randy Newman.
As his reputation as a family tennis teacher grew, he picked up clients such as Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa, Meg Ryan, Rob Reiner, Tom Hanks, Larry David, James Brooks and Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger – just to name a few.
For 14 years, Godwin, who grew up in Bethany Beach, was one of the most sought-after tennis teachers among Hollywood jet-setters.
He taught lessons, put on tournaments and staged benefits at Rob Reiner’s home courts. He posed in photographs with President Ronald Reagan and Nancy during a benefit tournament he directed.
Randy Newman hosted his surprise 40th birthday party. He attended a Super Bowl party at Bruce Springsteen’s house.
His scrapbook overflows with photographs and notes of appreciation from Hollywood’s elite.
And he never advertised. His business was by word-of-mouth once his reputation was established.
Godwin said, at first, working with some of Hollywood’s A-list personalities was a daunting task.
He said there were no second chances.
“I had Maria Shriver sitting right there on the court while I was working with her kids,” he said.
“You have to have confidence in what you are doing. You can’t be average or just so-so,” he said. “My background and passion for teaching got me the jobs.”
Why would Godwin give up the fast-lane life of Hollywood for the slow-paced life of Sussex County?
“It’s all about the challenge,” he said. “It was a major challenge to get started there, but I accomplished everything I set out to do. Now it’s a challenge here.”
Living in Rehoboth Beach, he also wanted his new family to be a little closer to the area where he grew up. He recently married his wife, Brandy, and the couple has a young son, Miles. His mother and father, Randy and Betty Godwin, live in Lewes.
It seems an improbable life for a lanky athlete who had dreams of playing college basketball – not tennis.
He attended high school in Florida to concentrate on sports and graduated from Ft. Lauderdale High School. He learned the sport at Holiday Park from one of the top teachers in the sport, Jimmy Evert. Jimmy’s famous daughter, Chris, was also a student during Godwin’s time at the school.
In a very short time, he became ranked as one of the top 20 players in the state in his age group.
At Wake Forest University, he was captain of the team and named Most Valuable Player. But it wasn’t always about playing the game.
“I didn’t realize it, but I was being taught how to teach tennis,” he said.
After graduating from Wake Forest in 1981, Godwin’s first job as a tennis professional was at the Rehoboth Bay Sailing Association (RBSA). Although that job was only one summer, it has always stayed in the back of his mind as a special summer.
It took him awhile to reach the West Coast. After the summer at RBSA, he landed a job as tennis pro at the University Club in Houston, Texas.
After stops at clubs in Destin, Fla., and Spring, Texas, from 1987 to 1990, Godwin was approached to head west to the prestigious Riviera Tennis Club in Palisades Park, Calif.
He said although working at the club was great, he wanted to branch out on his own. Marty Godwin Tennis was born in early 1992.
“I’ve been fortunate to have an impact in people’s lives and do a lot of charity work,” he said.
He said many children he has worked with have blossomed because of tennis - they have been able to find an activity they can excel in.
A letter from Maria Shriver is a testament to that impact on young people’s lives: “At age 8, my son once rallied with Marty hitting a ball 2,002 [times] in a row without missing.”
That young boy, Patrick, is the leader of Godwin’s 500 Club – those who can rally with him 500 or more times without stopping.
“I want to bring people to the game. If I can do it in L.A. knowing just one person, I can do it here,” Godwin said.
Godwin said he focuses on young people, but works to get the entire family involved – and that’s been the secret to his success.
“I love to teach people who would not normally play tennis. It’s a sport you can play your entire life,” he said.
He is already providing lessons at three private clubs in the Cape Region, including The Glade, where his family now lives.
But lessons are just part of the mission of Marty Godwin Tennis. He wants to establish summer camps and after-school programs, stage charity tournaments and initiate adult and youth tennis teams. He plans to energize the sport of tennis in the Cape Region.
As he reflects back, Godwin said he realizes there is more to what he is doing than teaching people how to serve and hit a strong backhand.
He approaches the sport more like an education where his students not only learn the sport, but also learn life skills such as self-confidence and discipline.
“It goes a little deeper than tennis,” he said.
Original Article: http://capegazette.com/saltwater/godwinmarty022608.html