Apr 4, 2013
by Tom Iacuzio, '06
Martin Guntrip, ‘81, has spent his entire life around the world of tennis, and since 2005 he’s literally been at the top of it as club secretary of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, home to Wimbledon.
“I’ve been a member of this club for 30 years and when the opportunity to work here around a sport that I have a passion in arose, I took it and haven’t looked back,” he said.?
Though mostly known for the two-week Wimbledon championships in June, the AELTC is a members club that hosts events throughout the year.
“My job really is to look after the club as a members club 50 weeks out of the year, and then for two weeks make sure we can run the championships in terms of the facilities, the catering, the courts, the buildings and the players,” said Guntrip, who had his own career in professional tennis, earning a No. 9 ranking in Great Britain and winning the Men’s Doubles at the Irish Open in 1984.
“I played Wimbledon from 1981 to 1984, which was nice, but I was what you might call a journeyman,” said Guntrip, a native of Kent, England. “I certainly wasn’t a superstar, but I was very proud of what I achieved.”
Guntrip left the tennis word professionally and put the business degree he got at Flagler to use for two decades.
“Before taking this job, my previous experience was in interesting things like office products and printing,” joked Guntrip. “Now, every time I come into work, I go to my desk, which is literally 20 feet from Centre Court, and I can see the Wimbledon trophies out of my window.”
In addition to helping oversee the largest annual event in Europe outside of the World Cup, Guntrip has also had the opportunity to help facilitate the tennis portion of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
“It was really kind of neat prepping for the Olympics,” said Guntrip. “The players who were members were practicing in the members area, so you’d sit there having tea overlooking the practice courts watching (Novak) Djokovic, the Williams sisters, Andy Murray and Maria Sharipova, and then two courts over it would be two guys in their 80s struggling to pick up the ball.”
And with members who are at the top of their professions both in tennis and industry, Guntrip believes it’s his job to make sure Wimbledon remains among the top of the world’s sporting events.
“I think for us, it’s all about crowd experience,” explained Guntrip. “We’re trying to create something we call ‘Tennis in an English Garden’ which encompasses the greens of the courts, the landscapes, the flora aspect. It’s a completely green concept. But there’s also the tradition element from asking all of our players to dress in white to having very little in terms of branding and sponsors.”
It’s that traditional aspect that can sometimes hinder the sport’s ability to bring in a younger generation, which Guntrip lists as one of his biggest obstacles.
“I think Wimbledon is seen sometimes as a little middle aged, blazer and tie,” he said. “But we’re working more now towards bringing in a younger generation. And if you look around the sport at the likes of players like (Rafael) Nadal and (Andy) Murray, tennis is starting to get a bit edgier.”
But no matter how far Guntrip goes in the tennis world, he credits the time he spent at Flagler with his success both in tennis and in business.
“Being on the tennis team (at Flagler), it taught me how to organize myself and introduced me to players from other schools that I still talk to and work with to this day. And honestly, having an American college degree on your resume when working overseas sometimes can be a big advantage.”Tagged As