Grapevine tennis coach Angel Martinez holds a special place in the hearts of his players, his players’ parents and Mustangs tennis fans for a number of reasons.
His commitment to excellence is top of the line, his passion for the sport is unparalleled, and perhaps most important is his insistence that everyone who wants to play tennis at Grapevine High School be allowed to do so and be made to feel welcome.
Spawned by bitter memories from his early teen years and a genuine affection for the Grapevine tennis community, the Mustangs coach decided from a very young age that he would never, ever cut a player from his team. He’s lived up to that and his track record has not suffered as a result.
On the contrary, he has been one of the most successful tennis coaches in the state of Texas over the last three decades, amassing a record of 622-102, including 17 district championships between Cedar Hill and Grapevine High School, six regional appearances at Grapevine and a trip to the state tournament.
Martinez was recently selected as the USPTA Texas High School Coach of the Year, an award he will receive in February, and he said the whole experience has been quite humbling for him.
“I'm receiving the award from an organization of professional tennis coaches,” Martinez said. “These are people that have a passion for the game and knowledge of the game. To be recognized by them really brings validation to the job I'm doing, and that means a lot to me.”
Few coaches are loved and admired as much as Martinez, and the Grapevine coach said the feeling is definitely mutual when it comes to his program at Grapevine.
“I was a military kid, and I was lucky that we didn't move around a lot, but we did move,” Martinez said. “A couple of times, it was really hard on me to move. On one occasion, we moved from El Paso to Madrid, Spain. I was in middle school, and I'll never forget, I was bullied, I had no friends, and I had no place to go. I was lost, and that is one of the big reasons that I don't cut anybody. I take everybody in, because I believe it is important for everybody to have an identity and have a place to be.”
Martinez, who has also been selected as the TTCA State Coach of the Year and the USPTA High School Coach of the Year, an award he won twice, said.
“It is absolutely massive,” Martinez said. “I think there are people that get the impression that Grapevine is an affluent area and the kids just come out of nowhere and play for me. Nothing could be further from the truth. When we started this thing in 1999, we were not very good. In fact, in my 30 years of coaching tennis that was my only losing season. We were 12-17.
“We started horrible. We couldn't beat anybody. As the year went on, we got better and better. It snowballed from there, so this has been a product of hard work. We've got great middle school coaches and supportive program. We work at this thing every day.”
Martinez has no intention of hanging up his whistle any time soon, and said that as far as the Grapevine tennis program is concerned, he will stay “as long as they'll have me.”