In a career in which he transitioned from being an amateur to playing professionally he achieved many outstanding tournament results.
Mike Belkin was born in Montreal, Quebec, but moved to Miami, Florida in 1958 when he was 13 years old. Belkin was first coached by his father, Ralph Belkin, at the club tennis level. At the age of 15, Belkin having become Florida men?s champion with victories over Frank Froehling and Gardner Mulloy, was given the key to the City of Miami and offered a tennis scholarship from the University of Miami. He had exceptional results as a junior winning back to back Orange Bowl titles - U16 singles in 1960 beating Tomas Koch and the U18 singles in 1961 beating Tony Roche. He was also the U18 US National Junior Champion and, at the time, was only the third non-American to win this event the others being Rod Laver and Raul Ramirez. He was also a top ranked collegiate player while he attended the University of Miami and he reached the finals of the 1965 NCAA individual championships where he lost to Arthur Ashe 4-6, 1-6, 1-6. At 19 Belkin was ranked 3& in the US. He had beaten Arthur Ashe twice and was called up to the US Davis Cup squad. However, he was not included in the team that left for Spain.
Belkin?s best competitive surface was clay and his right-handed game was characterized by outstanding ground strokes notably a double-handed backhand which at the time was still relatively uncommon.
Belkin was No. 1 in Canada five times between 1966 and 1972. He held the singles titles at the Canadian closed championships in 1969, 1970 and 1972 and reached the semi-final of the Canadian Open in 1969. Belkin was a member of the Davis Cup team where he achieved a 17-12 record, including a 14-7 record in singles. He had numerous impressive wins away from home including Britain?s Mike Sangster, Russian Tomas Lejus, Brazil?s Tomas Koch and Mexican Joaquim Loyo-Mayo.
Mike?s career spanned the advent of open tennis. Most of his Grand Slam experience was as an amateur. He played the US Championships from 1961-1964 and in 1964, after defeating Rod Susman, lost to Cliff Richey in 5 sets. However, he did play in the US Open in 1970 at Forest Hills but lost early and in 1972 when he was forced to retire. His first Wimbledon was 1964 when he reached the third round defeating Cliff Drysdale before losing to Bob Hewitt. He returned in 1966 losing in the second round to the #4 seed and eventual winner Manuel Santana. He competed at Roland Garros in 1966 and 1969 but failed to win a match although in 1969 he was forced to retire up two sets against Frenchman Georges Goven. At the 1968 Australian Championships he reached the quarter finals losing 16-14, 6-3, 6-3 to the eventual winner Bill Bowrey.
Mike played numerous tournaments in North America first as an amateur and then as a professional although later in his career he was plagued with injury. Nonetheless he achieved some notable victories including Phil Dent and Stan Smith, Jan Kodes, Roscoe Tanner, Brian Gottfried, Cliff Richey and a rookie Jimmy Connors! The ATP only introduced rankings in 1973 when Belkin was in the twilight of his career. However, he did reach 128 in September of that year.
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