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Pancho Segura
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Tennis Player
    (June 21, 1921-November 19, 2017)
    Born in Guayaquil, Ecuador
    Birth name was Francisco Olegario Segura
    Won the US Pro Championship three times (1950-52)
    Ranked #1 by the Professional Lawn Tennis Association (1952)
    Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame (1984)
    He took up tennis because he was considered too sickly for soccer.
    He was often referred to as ‘little Pancho’ to distinguish him from his contemporary, Pancho Gonzales.
    Jack Kramer wrote that no one took him seriously as an amateur player, adding ‘on the grass while scooting around in his long white pants with his bowlegs, he looked like a little butterball.’
    After Bobby Riggs lost the ‘Battle of the Sexes,’ Segura challenged Billie Jean King to a rematch; she declined.
    He almost died when he was born prematurely on a river barge trying to reach a hospital.
    In his childhood, he suffered from malaria, rickets and hernias.
    To compensate for his small size (5’6, 150 pounds), he developed a two-handed forehand that Jack Kramer called one of the two greatest strokes in tennis history (the other being Don Budge’s backhand).
    He played his last Grand Slam doubles match at age 54 at the 1975 US Open.
    As a coach, he served as a mentor to Jimmy Connors.
    Noting his own rise from poverty, he dismissed the notion of tennis as a sport for the wealthy, saying ‘[It] doesn’t take more than a racket and a heart to play this game. It’s a great test of democracy in action.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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