Stenning reflects on 35 years at Tennis Hall of Fame

Mark Stenning

The International Tennis Hall of Fame is losing its leader. Executive Director Mark Stenning is stepping down later this summer after 35 years.

"I think the timing is perfect, and I could not be more comfortable with the decision than sitting here today," Stenning told NBC 10 recently.

Stenning has much to be proud of. It's not easy maintaining a jewel to not only Newport, but to an entire sport.

"I think one of the things I am most proud of is that this tournament remains prosperous. It thrives and people still enjoy it," Stenning said.

The last three-plus decades have been marked by continued renovations and improvements to the property that houses the Hall of Fame Museum and hosts the only professional tennis tournament played on grass in the United States.

"As we sit here, we have a really strong draw. We've got the top ranked American. We've got the Wimbledon doubles champion on site. I think it's never been better," Stenning said.

And with the exception of the US Open, none of the tournament venues can claim to have provided more special moments than what has happened on Newport's grass courts over the past 35 years.

"My top three moments would be. Those are easy. It would be Davis Cup. We hosted in 1991. The U.S. played Spain, and we had McEnroe and Brad Gilbert. And it was a glorious mid-June event," Stenning said.

"2004, we hosted the 50th anniversary of the Hall of Fame. Ten years ago we had 50 hall of famers on center court with Prince Albert of Monaco as our emcee," Stenning said. "And then from a personal standpoint, I think one of the better executed enshrinements was Chris Evert in 1995 with George Bush as her presenter."

Stenning is a tough act to follow. He plans to stay on as a consultant and a member of the hall's board.

Former ATP player Todd Martin will take over in Newport.