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David Ohlmuller Inducted into the Platform Tennis Hall of Fame
March 20, 2013
Franklin Lakes, NJ
On Friday, March 8, 2013, David Ohlmuller (pictured at right) was inducted into the Platform Tennis Hall of Fame. David's achievements and contributions to the sport are well described in the induction speech given by Hall of Fame committee member Tim McAvoy. McAvoy is also a Hall of Fame member and former President of the APTA Board if Directors.
Tonight we honor a man who dominated the sport of platform tennis and then came back from a near death accident to reach the pinnacle of our sport for a second time.
Born in 1969, our inductee was introduced to the game by his mother, Ginna, who in addition to playing platform tennis was the Executive Director for the American Platform Tennis Association. In fact, in his early teenage days our inductee was bribed by his mother to play---hot chocolate in the warming hut after playing usually did the trick.
Ginna also included some more experienced players to help teach her son the basics of the game---and one of the early mentors was none other than Mike Gillespie---who is chairing the APTA Nationals this weekend. Ginna first competed in competitive mixed doubles events with her son in Philadelphia, in the mixed MAPTA, when her son was just 17 years old.
Her son showed early flashes of brilliance---as a finalist in the 18 and under APTA JR. National Championships in 1987 and then in 1988, winning the 18 and under APTA Junior Nationals with Danny Galves.
Ginna remembers 1988 from a slightly different perspective as she and her son won the NJ State Mixed Championships that year---beating Bobo Delaney and Bruce Kelsey in the final, in a 3rd set tiebreaker. In fact, she was quoted as saying, “You can only imagine how well my son had to play to carry that anvil (me!) to victory!”
Our inductee then graduated high school and set his sights on Loyola College in Baltimore. While at Loyola, however, he maintained his interest and aptitude for platform tennis. In 1990, in his sophomore year at age 20, his mother intervened again, to see if Patty Hogan would like to play with her son because he was too shy to ask. So Ginna brokered the partnership and what a team they made---Ginna’s son teamed with Patty Hogan to not only compete in the 1990 APTA National Mixed Championships…but win!
Hall of Fame Members Attending the Induction
(l-r) Bob Brown, Steve Baird, Patty Hogan, Tim McAvoy,
David Ohlmuller, David Kjeldsen
Over the next 5 years, David and Patty won the APTA National Mixed title twice (in 1991 and 1995) and were finalists twice (1992 and 1993). Three Mixed National Championships in six years---twice while in college! And did I mention he also held down the #1 singles and #1 doubles position on Loyola’s varisty tennis team….wow!
And 1995 was an even more special year, as he added to his Mixed National Championship that year by winning the Men’s National Championship with Bruce Kelsey in Montclair, NJ.
As many of you know, Patty Hogan is an APTA Hall of Fame member. As a teammate with our inductee, Patty was not only impressed with his shot making but even more so with his maturity and understanding of the nuances of the game at such a young age. “He understood, at 20 years of age, that the sport was about minimizing your unforced errors and forcing your opponents to play their best in order to win”.
Personally, I competed against our inductee in the early 1990’s and the offense he brought to the court was unparalleled---both from his lethal forehand and his devastating two handed backhand. There literally wasn't a safe shot to hit, especially in mixed. I was also fascinated to hear the top men and women talk about his shot making and when he went on the court to compete, most wanted to watch his next ‘amazing shot’!
He was one of the most dominating players in the men's game over that 5 year period and during that time, he was the most dominating player in mixed doubles.
Everything changed in 1996. The man we honor tonight was struck by a speeding car while crossing a street in Manhattan. The hit and run accident left him in the hospital for special surgery for 28 days. His tibia and fibula were each broken in seven different places and there was discussion of possible amputation in order to save his life.
Thanks to a great medical team, the doctors were able to save his life….and his leg. He then brought tremendous determination and a positive attitude to a grueling rehabilitation process. Within two years, he was back on the platform tennis court, working to see if he could again compete at the highest level.
In 1998, teaming up, again with Patty Hogan, our inductee was a finalist in the National Mixed Doubles Championships and they repeated as finalists in 1999.
On the men's side, he teamed up with Chris Gambino and together, they did indeed reach the top of the mountain---winning the Men's National Championship in 2000 and 2004.
And the icing on the performance cake was his winning two Husband/Wife National Championships, with his bride Marina, in 2003 and 2005.
Add that all up and our inductee has won 8 National Championship gold medals and 6 National Championship silver medals and while doing so, earned the respect of his peers for his on-court competitiveness and sportsmanship.
And now, in recognition of these accomplishments, he is the 79th recipient of the APTA’S highest honor, the Platform Tennis Hall of Fame award, presented to David P. Ohlmuller.