The Illinois High School Association is proud to celebrate 100 years of the IHSA Boys Tennis State Final Tournament in 2015 with a series of stories chronicling the history, memorable players, and storied programs that have made the last 100 years so special:
by Scott Johnson, IHSA Staff
The IHSA boys tennis tournament has seen its share of great champions, many winning multiple
titles, but none has infused the tournament with more star power than Marty Riessen.
Riessen was a phenom from an early age, winning several junior titles. His father, Clare Riessen, was the head tennis coach at Hinsdale Township High School, and in 1956, when Marty was still an eighth grader, Hinsdale won its first state championship – a sign of things to come.
By the time Marty reached Hinsdale as a ninth grader, he was considered a serious threat to win the state singles title. In fact, entering the 1957 tournament Riessen had not lost a set all season, and he plowed through the field on the University of Illinois courts. Charles Lockhart of Decatur gave him a good run in the championship match before falling, 6-4, 6-4. Riessen was the first freshman to win the title and after such a dominating performance, speculation immediately turned to the possibility that he could become the first three or even four-time winner.
Riessen continued his run the next two years, dropping Doug Walter of Glenbard in the championship match both times to become the first three-timer, and incredibly, still had not lost a set in high school competition. Hinsdale won the team championship both years to bring its streak to four in a row.
In addition to his success on the court, Riessen professed a love for basketball. He was a star on the Hinsdale team that lost to eventual state runner-up West Aurora in the 1959 sectionals.
The scenery changed somewhat during Riessen's senior year as his father took the head coaching position at Northwestern University. But by now Riessen was such an overwhelming high school player that he easily cleared the field, completing his never-to-be-broken record of not losing a set by topping Dave Moss of Granite City in the final match.
Riessen followed his father to Northwestern, where he finished second in the NCAA finals all three years (freshmen could not compete in those days). He subsequently turned pro and is best known for his doubles play. He paired with Arthur Ashe to win the French Open in 1971 and with Tom Okker to win the U.S. Open in 1976. In mixed doubles he won seven major championships, six with Margaret Court, including Wimbledon in 1975, and the final one, the U.S. Open with Wendy Turnbull, in 1980.
Riessen's historic run gave future Illinois tennis players a very lofty goal, indeed.