General Ricardo Alonso (Pancho)
Gonzales
Male
United States of America
1928-05-09
Los Angeles, United States of America
1995-07-03
Las Vegas, United States of America


About

Very much his own man, a loner and an acerbic competitor, Richard Alonzo “Pancho” Gonzalez was probably as good as anyone who ever played the game, if not better. Most of his great tennis was played beyond wide public attention, on the nearly secret pro tour amid a small band of gypsies of whom he was the ticket-selling mainstay. His rages against opponents, officials, photographers, newsmen and even spectators were frequently spectacular – but they only served to intensify his own play, and didn’t disturb his concentration, as fits of temper do most others. Pancho got mad and played better. “We hoped he wouldn’t get upset; it just made him tougher,” said Rod Laver. “Later when he got older, he would get into arguments to stall for time and rest, and we had to be careful that it didn’t put us off our games.” Gonzalez, a right-hander, born May 9, 1928, in Los Angeles, was always out of the tennis mainstream, a fact that seemed to goad him to play harder. Because he came from a Chicano family, he was never acceptable in the supposedly proper upper circles of his city’s tennis establishment. And because he was a truant he wasn’t permitted to play in Southern California junior tournaments. Once he got out of the Navy in 1946 there was no preventing him from mixing in the game, and beating everyone. He had a marvellously pure and effortless service action that delivered thunderbolts, and he grew up as an attacker on fast West Coast concrete. Although not regarded as anything more than promising on his second trip East in 1948, he was at age 20 ready to win the big one, the U.S. Championship at Forest Hills. Ranked 17th nationally at the time, and seeded eighth, he served and volleyed his way to the final, where he beat South African Eric Sturgess with ease, 6-2, 6-3, 14-12. The following year Gonzalez met the favourite, a Southern California antagonist, top-seeded Ted Schroeder. It was one of the most gripping finals. Schroeder won the first two sets as expected, but they were demanding and exhausting, 18-16, 6-2, and after that Gonzalez rolled up the next three, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4, for the title. In 1949 Pancho also helped the U.S. hold the Davis Cup against Australia, then went for the money, turning pro to tour against the monarch, Jack Kramer. Gonzalez was too green for Kramer, losing, 96-27, and he faded from view for several agonizing years. When Kramer retired, Gonzalez won a tour over Don Budge, Pancho Segura and Frank Sedgman in 1954 to determine Jack’s successor, and stood himself as Emperor Pancho, proud and imperious, for a long while, through the challenges of Tony Trabert, Ken Rosewall, Lew Hoad, Ashley Cooper, Mal Anderson, Alex Olmedo and Segura. For a decade Gonzalez and pro tennis were synonymous. A promoter couldn’t hope to rally crowds unless Pancho was on the bill. During his reign Pancho won the U.S. Pro singles a record eight times of 11 finals between 1951 and 1964, and Wembley in London, considered the world pro championship, 4 times of 5 finals between 1950 and 1956. By the time Rosewall and Laver were reaching their zeniths during the mid- and late-1960s, the aging Gonzalez hung on as a dangerous foe, still capable of defeating all. In 1964, his last serious bid for his ninth U.S. Pro title, he lost the final to Laver in four hard sets on grass in a rainstorm. Yet there was still much more glory ahead. In 1968, at 40, he beat the defending champion, 31-year-old Roy Emerson, to attain the semis of the first major open, the French, to be beaten by Laver. Three months later, at the initial U.S. Open, he toppled second-seeded Tony Roche (the 23-year-old Wimbledon finalist) to make the quarters, where he defeated Tom Okker. A year later, this grandfather (literally) electrified Wimbledon by overcoming Charlie Pasarell in the tournament’s longest match, 112 games, a first-rounder that consumed five hours, 12 minutes, a major tourney record that stood until 1992, eclipsed by 14 minutes by Stefan Edberg over Michael Chang at the U.S. Open. The marathon with Pasarell began one afternoon and concluded on the next after darkness intervened. In winning, 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9, Gonzalez saved seven match points in the 5th set. Later that year, he beat John Newcombe, Rosewall, Stan Smith and Arthur Ashe in succession to win $12,500, second-highest prize of the year, and the title at a rich tournament at Las Vegas. Early in 1970, in the opener of a series of $10,000 winner-take-all challenge matches leading to a grand final, he toppled Laver. The Aussie, just off his second Grand Slam year (and the eventual winner of this tournament), was clearly No. 1in the world, but Pancho warmed a crowd of 14,761 at New York’s Madison Square Garden with a 7-5, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory. Three months before his 44th birthday, in 1972, he was the oldest to record a tournament title in the opener, winning Des Moines (Iowa) over 24-year-old French Davis Cupper Georges Goven. That year he was No. 9 in the U.S., the oldest to rank so high, and equalled Vic Seixas; Top Ten longevity span of 24 years. As for the World Top Ten, he is alone in that he was a member in 1948-49 and again in 1968-69, ranking No. 1 in 1949, No. 6 in 1969. In 1968, though still active, he was named to the Hall of Fame and he was a consistent winner on the Grand Masters tour for the over-45 champs beginning in 1973. Although his high-speed serve, so effortlessly delivered, was a trademark, Gonzalez, a 6-foot-2, 180-pounder, was a splendid athlete and tactician who excelled at defence, too. “My legs, retrieving, lobs and change-of-pace service returns meant as much or more to me than my power,” he said. “But people overlooked that because of the reputation of my serve.” He won $911,078 between 1950 and 1972, and crossed the million mark as a Grand Master. Altogether as amateur and pro he won 74 singles titles. He was married six times, the last to a good player, Rita Agassi, sister of another all-timer, Andre Agassi, by whom he had a son. Not a bad tennis bloodline for the young man, Skylar Gonzalez. Gonzalez died July 3, 1995, of cancer in Las Vegas, where he had been a teaching pro for some time. Bio Courtesy: Bud Collins Pancho was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1968.



Media


Archive statistics 1947 - 1974
65
678
496


Tournament wins 1972 - Rothmans Tennis Spectacular (Open)
1972 - Southern California Championship (Open)
1972 - Des Moines International Indoors (Open)
1971 - Pacific Southwest Tournament (Open)
1971 - Rothmans of Jamaica (Open)
1971 - Southern California Championship (Open)
1970 - Howard Hughes Pro Invitation (Professional)
1969 - Pacific Southwest Tournament (Open)
1969 - Howard Hughes Open (Open)
1968 - Los Angeles Professional Championships (Professional)
1968 - Midland Pros (Professional)
1967 - Birmingham Pro Classic (Professional)
1966 - Birmingham Pro Classic (Professional)
1966 - Hollywood Pro Challenge Cup (Professional)
1966 - Hollywood Pro Challenge Cup b (Professional)
1965 - Sydney Pro Championships (Professional)
1965 - Orlando Professional Championships (Professional)
1965 - Seafirst-Greater Seattle Pros (Professional)
1964 - US Pro Indoors (Professional)
1964 - Hollywood Pro Challenge Cup (Professional)
1964 - Wembley Pros - lesser meeting (Professional)
1964 - Knokke Le Zoute Professionals (Professional)
1964 - World Professional Tournament (Professional)
1961 - Austrian Professional Championships (Professional)
1961 - World Professional Tournament (Professional)
1961 - Geneva Professional Gold Trophy (Professional)
1961 - Scandinavian Professional Championships (Professional)
1961 - Italian International Professionals (Professional)
1960 - Tuscaloosa Professionals (Professional)
1959 - San Francisco Pros (Professional)
1959 - Sydney Pro Championships (Professional)
1959 - O'Keefe Professional (Professional)
1959 - New South Wales Pros (Professional)
1959 - World Professional Tournament (Professional)
1958 - World Professional Tournament (Professional)
1957 - Bermuda Pro Championships (Professional)
1957 - World Professional Tournament (Professional)
1957 - San Francisco Pros (Professional)
1956 - London Professional Championships (Professional)
1956 - World Professional Tournament (Professional)
1956 - Trophy of Champions (Professional)
1955 - US Pro Hardcourts (Professional)
1955 - World Professional Tournament (Professional)
1955 - British Professional (Professional)
1954 - US Pro Championships (Professional)
1952 - London Professional Championships (Professional)
1950 - London Indoor Professionals (Professional)
1950 - Philadelphia Pro Championships (Professional)
1949 - US Clay Courts (Open)
1949 - US Open (Grandslam)
1949 - La Jolla Tournament (Amateur)
1949 - Pennsylvania Lawn Tennis Championship (Open)
1949 - US International Indoor Championships (Amateur)
1949 - Newport Casino Tournament (Amateur)
1949 - Pacific Southwest Tournament (Open)
1949 - Ojai Championships (Amateur)
1949 - Los Angeles Metropolitan (Open)
1948 - New Jersey State Championships (Open)
1948 - California State Championship (Open)
1948 - US Clay Courts (Open)
1948 - Southampton Invitation (Long Island) (Amateur)
1948 - US Open (Grandslam)
1948 - Dixie Championships (Amateur)
1948 - Western States Championships (Open)
1948 - Florida State Championship (Open)


Tournaments Pacific Coast Indoors - 1974 US Open - 1973 Eastern Grass Court Championships - 1973 Pacific Southwest Tournament - 1973 Lake Worth - 1973 Buckeye - 1973 Des Moines International Indoors - 1973 Royal Crown Classic - 1973 Whitefish Bay Classic - 1973 Wimbledon - 1972 US Open - 1972 Pacific Coast Championship - 1972 Southern California Championship - 1972 Cincinnati - 1972 Queens Club Tournament - 1972 Pacific Southwest Tournament - 1972 Kent Championships - 1972 Rothman International Tournament - 1972 Buckeye - 1972 Rothmans Tennis Spectacular - 1972 Des Moines International Indoors - 1972 Los Angeles Inernational - 1972 Hong Kong Hard Courts - 1972 WCT-Cleveland - 1972 Clean Air Classic - second meeting - 1972 Wimbledon - 1971 US Open - 1971 Canadian International Championships - 1971 Eastern Grass Court Championships - 1971 Southern California Championship - 1971 Queens Club Tournament - 1971 Pacific Southwest Tournament - 1971 Rothmans of Jamaica - 1971 Johannesburg Round Robin - 1971 US Open - 1970 Canadian International Championships - 1970 Pacific Southwest Tournament - 1970 South African Championships - 1970 British Covered Court Championships - 1970 Natal Championships - 1970 Tucson - 1970 WCT - Atlanta - 1970 Paris Indoor - 1970 Dunlop Slazenger International Open - 1970 Dallas Morning News Classic - 1970 Howard Hughes Pro Invitation - 1970 Fort Worth Pros - 1970 WCT - Vancouver - 1970 Tennis Champions Classic - 1970 Los Angeles Tennis Classic - 1970 Australian Open - 1969 Wimbledon - 1969 Monte Carlo - 1969 US Open - 1969 New South Wales Championships - 1969 Pacific Southwest Tournament - 1969 US Pro Championships - 1969 South African Championships - 1969 Pro Masters - 1969 British Covered Court Championships - 1969 Madison Square Garden Fields - 1969 Auckland - 1969 Philadelphia Open - 1969 Burger King Challenge Cup - 1969 Baltimore Pro Championships - 1969 Midland Pros - 1969 Oakland Pros - 1969 Portland Pros - 1969 Los Angeles Professional Championships - 1969 Garden Challenge Trophy Open - 1969 Japan Professional Championships - 1969 Incline Village Pro Invitation - 1969 Howard Hughes Open - 1969 Wimbledon - 1968 Roland Garros - 1968 US Open - 1968 Pacific Southwest Tournament - 1968 British Hard Court Championships - 1968 US Pro Championships - 1968 French Professional Championship - 1968 Madison Square Garden Pro Championships - 1968 Madison Square Garden Fields - 1968 Sao Paulo Pro Championships - 1968 Buenos Aires Pro Championships - 1968 Bogota Pro Championships - 1968 Burger King Challenge Cup - 1968 Paris Pro Championships - 1968 Wembley Invitation - 1968 Wembley - 1968 Midland Pros - 1968 South Texas Pros - 1968 Wembley Professional Championships - 1968 Oakland Pros - 1968 Los Angeles Professional Championships - 1968 Colonial Pro Invitation - 1968 Orlando Professional Championships - 1967 BBC-2 World Invitation - 1967 Paris Pro Championships - 1967 New York Pro Tournament - 1967 Planters Pro Challenge Cup - 1967 Boston Pros - 1967 Birmingham Pro Classic - 1967 Wimbledon Pros - 1967 Colonial Pro Invitation - 1967 Madison Square Garden Pro Championships - 1966 Birmingham Pro Classic - 1966 Hollywood Pro Challenge Cup - 1966 Forest Hills Pros - 1966 Hollywood Pro Challenge Cup b - 1966 Adelaide Professional Championships - 1965 Sydney Pro Championships - 1965 Orlando Professional Championships - 1965 New York Pro Tournament - 1965 US Pro Grasscourt Championships - 1965 WCT - St. Louis - 1965 Melbourne Pros - 1965 Perth Professional Championships - 1965 Brisbane Professional Championships - 1965 South Australia Pros - 1965 Oklahoma Pros - 1965 Masters Round Robin Professionals - 1965 Tasmania Pros - 1965 Peacock Gap Pros - 1965 Seafirst-Greater Seattle Pros - 1965 Tahoe Racquet Club Pros - 1965 Greater Washington Pros - 1965 Newport Pro Tournament - 1965 US Pro Championships - 1964 US Pro Indoors - 1964 French Professional Championship - 1964 World Professional Tournament - 1964 Cannes Pro Championships - 1964 Baltimore Pro Championships - 1964 Wembley Professional Championships - 1964 Milwaukee Pros - 1964 WCT - St. Louis - 1964 Geneva Professional Gold Trophy - 1964 Masters Round Robin Professionals - 1964 Knokke Le Zoute Professionals - 1964 Montreux Pros - 1964 Aix-Les-Baines Professionals - 1964 Wembley Pros - lesser meeting - 1964 Hollywood Pro Challenge Cup - 1964 US Pro Grasscourt Championships - 1963 World Professional Tournament - 1961 Italian International Professionals - 1961 London Indoor Professionals - 1961 London Indoor Professionals Consolation - 1961 Professional Clay Courts - 1961 Kramer Cup - 1961 Geneva Professional Gold Trophy - 1961 Scandinavian Professional Championships - 1961 Austrian Professional Championships - 1961 Tuscaloosa Professionals - 1960 Pro Masters - 1959 World Professional Tournament - 1959 Sydney Pro Championships - 1959 Perth Professional Championships - 1959 Brisbane Professional Championships - 1959 Victorian Professional Championships - 1959 New South Wales Pros - 1959 South Australia Pros - 1959 O'Keefe Professional - 1959 Kramer Tournament of Champions - 1959 San Francisco Pros - 1959 French Professional Championship - 1958 World Professional Tournament - 1958 Sydney Pro Championships - 1958 Wembley Professional Championships - 1958 Pro Masters - 1957 World Professional Tournament - 1957 Wembley Professional Championships - 1957 Australian Professionals - 1957 London Indoor Professionals - 1957 San Francisco Pros - 1957 Bermuda Pro Championships - 1957 French Professional Championship - 1956 World Professional Tournament - 1956 Trophy of Champions - 1956 London Professional Championships - 1956 Geneva Pro - 1956 World Professional Tournament - 1955 British Professional - 1955 US Pro Hardcourts - 1955 Ostend Professional Round Robin - 1955 US Pro Championships - 1954 Pacific Coast Professionals - 1954 Paris Pro Championships - 1953 Wembley Professional Championships - 1953 International Professional Championships - 1952 London Professional Championships - 1952 German Professional Championships - 1951 Philadelphia Pro Championships - 1950 London Indoor Professionals - 1950 Paris Pro Indoors - 1950 Wimbledon - 1949 Roland Garros - 1949 US Open - 1949 Newport Casino Tournament - 1949 Southern California Championship - 1949 Spring Lake Invitation Tournament - 1949 US Clay Courts - 1949 Netherlands International Championships - 1949 Pacific Southwest Tournament - 1949 US International Indoor Championships - 1949 River Oaks Tournament - 1949 La Jolla Tournament - 1949 Southampton Invitation (Long Island) - 1949 Palm Springs - 1949 Pennsylvania Lawn Tennis Championship - 1949 Los Angeles Metropolitan - 1949 Ojai Championships - 1949 US Open - 1948 California State Championship - 1948 Newport Casino Tournament - 1948 Pacific Coast Championship - 1948 Eastern Grass Court Championships - 1948 Seabright Invitational - 1948 Southern California Championship - 1948 Cincinnati - 1948 US Clay Courts - 1948 Western States Championships - 1948 Pacific Southwest Tournament - 1948 Dixie Championships - 1948 New Jersey State Championships - 1948 Southampton Invitation (Long Island) - 1948 Florida State Championship - 1948 Florida West Coast - 1948 Pan American Championship - 1948 Ojai Championships - 1948 US Open - 1947 California State Championship - 1947 Pacific Coast Championship - 1947 Southern California Championship - 1947 Sugar Bowl - 1947 US Clay Courts - 1947 Pacific Southwest Tournament - 1947 Heart of America - 1947 Pan American Championship - 1947

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.