Alex Olmedo

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Alex Olmedo
Full nameAlejandro Olmedo Rodríguez
Country (sports) Peru
 United States
Born(1936-03-24)March 24, 1936
Arequipa, Peru
DiedDecember 9, 2020(2020-12-09) (aged 84)
Los Angeles, California, US
Height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Turned pro1960
Retired1977
PlaysRight-handed (one-handed backhand)
Int. Tennis HoF1987 (member page)
Singles
Career record401–358 (52.8%)[1]
Career titles21[1]
Highest rankingNo. 2 (1959, Lance Tingay)[2]
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian OpenW (1959)
French Open1R (1969, 1972)
WimbledonW (1959)
US OpenF (1959)
Professional majors
US ProW (1960)
Wembley ProSF (1960, 1963)
French ProQF (1962, 1964)
Doubles
Career record26–35
Grand Slam Doubles results
US OpenW (1958)
Mixed doubles
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results
US OpenF (1958)
Team competitions
Davis CupW (1958)

Alejandro "Alex" Olmedo Rodríguez (March 24, 1936 – December 9, 2020) was a tennis player from Peru with American citizenship. He was listed by the USTA as a "foreign" player for 1958, but as a U.S. player for 1959.[3] He helped win the Davis Cup for the United States in 1958 and was the No. 2 ranked amateur in 1959. Olmedo won two Majors in 1959 (Australia and Wimbledon) and the U.S. Pro Championships in 1960, and was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.

Biography[edit]

Although born and raised in Peru, Olmedo moved to Southern California and was mentored by Perry T. Jones, president of the Southern California Tennis Association[4] at the Los Angeles Tennis Club (LATC). George Toley recruited him to play for the University of Southern California (USC). Olmedo graduated with a business degree from USC. While there, he won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Singles and Doubles Championships in 1956 and 1958.[5] (In 1957, USC was excluded from NCAA competition due to a financial contribution violation involving the football program which also suspended the tennis team.)

Olmedo was ranked as the world No. 2 in 1959 by Lance Tingay of The Daily Telegraph.[2]

Perry T. Jones was Davis Cup captain in 1958 and recruited Olmedo from Modesto Junior College to play on the team. He represented the U.S. in Davis Cup competition in 1958 and 1959, winning in both singles and doubles – achieving all three of the three points required to win the Cup in 1958 (two singles and one doubles). His teammates were Ham Richardson and Barry MacKay, when they won the Cup in 1958.[6] Although he was not a U.S. citizen, he was technically eligible to represent the U.S. in Davis Cup because he had lived in the country for at least three years (since February 1954) and because Peru, his country of citizenship, did not have a Davis Cup team in those particular years. However, his participation was very controversial. Sports columnist Arthur Dailey at The New York Times wrote "This would seem to be the saddest day in the history of American tennis. A few more such rousing victories and the prestige of this country in tennis will sink to a new low." At the time, Olmedo, who held a student visa, refused to file for U.S. citizenship, said he was content to remain a Peruvian citizen, and denied he was refusing to apply for U.S. citizenship to avoid being drafted into the military. Still, many Americans "took a dim view of the largest nation in the competition stooping to borrow a little player from Peru to win the Cup".[7] Olmedo eventually became a U.S. citizen many years later.[8]

Olmedo won the Australian Championships and the Wimbledon singles titles in 1959 and was the runner-up at the 1959 U.S. Championships, losing to Neale Fraser, whom he defeated in the Australian Championships earlier that year. At 1959 Wimbledon, he defeated Rod Laver in 71 minutes 6–4, 6–3, 6–4. Olmedo turned professional in 1960, and that year, won the US Pro title by beating Tony Trabert in the final.

Olmedo was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.[9] He spent over 40 years teaching tennis at the Beverly Hills Hotel in California. His clients included Katharine Hepburn and Robert Duvall.[8]

Olmedo's marriage to Ann Olmedo ended in divorce. He had a son Alejandro Jr., two daughters Amy and Angela, and four grand children.[8] Olmedo died on December 9, 2020 at the age of 84 from cancer in Los Angeles.[10][11]

Grand Slam finals[edit]

Singles (2 titles, 1 runner-up)[edit]

Result Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Winner 1959 Australian Championships Grass Australia Neale Fraser 6–1, 6–2, 3–6, 6–3
Winner 1959 Wimbledon Grass Australia Rod Laver 6–4, 6–3, 6–4
Loss 1959 U.S. Championships Grass Australia Neale Fraser 3–6, 7–5, 2–6, 4–6

Doubles (1 title, 1 runner-up)[edit]

Result Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Win 1958 U.S. Championships Grass United States Ham Richardson United States Sam Giammalva
United States Barry MacKay
3–6, 6–3, 6–4, 6–4
Loss 1959 U.S. Championships Grass United States Butch Buchholz Australia Roy Emerson
Australia Neale Fraser
6–3, 3–6, 7–5, 4–6, 5–7

Mixed doubles (1 runner-up)[edit]

Result Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Loss 1958 U.S. Championships Grass Brazil Maria Bueno Australia Neale Fraser
United States Margaret Osborne duPont
3–6, 6–3, 7–9

Grand Slam tournament performance timeline[edit]

Key
W  F  SF QF #R RR Q# A NH
(W) Won; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round; (A) absent; (NH) not held. SR=strike rate (events won/competed)

Singles[edit]

Tournament 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 SR
Australian Open A A A A A A A A W A A A A A A A A A A A A A 1 / 1
French Open A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A 1R A A 1R 0 / 2
Wimbledon A A A A A A 1R A W A A A A A A A A 3R 1R A A 2R 1 / 5
US Open 1R A A A 2R 4R 1R QF F A A A A A A A A 3R A 2R 1R 2R 0 / 10
Strike Rate 0 / 1 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 2 0 / 1 2 / 3 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 2 0 / 2 0 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 3 2 / 18

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Alex Olmedo: Career match record". thetennisbase.com. Tennismem SL.
  2. ^ a b United States Lawn Tennis Association (1972). Official Encyclopedia of Tennis (First Edition), p. 427.
  3. ^ "U.S. Top 10s - Men". usta.com.
  4. ^ "Hall of Famers – Perry Jones". International Tennis Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on July 21, 2012. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  5. ^ "Alex Olmedo, Tennis Champion". Sports illustrated. September 7, 1998. Archived from the original on January 2, 2013. Retrieved July 28, 2009.
  6. ^ "Hail to the Chief". Time. January 12, 1959. Retrieved July 28, 2009.
  7. ^ "While Critics Cry, He Wins", Lakeland Ledger, August 23, 1959, page 19.
  8. ^ a b c Goldstein, Richard. "Alex Olmedo, 84, Dies; Tennis Star Known for a Remarkable Year". The New York Times. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  9. ^ "Alejandro Olmedo". International Tennis Hall of Fame. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  10. ^ Joel Drucker (December 10, 2020). "Remembering Alex Olmedo, 1936–2020: star player, teacher to the stars". Tennis.com.
  11. ^ James Buddell (December 10, 2020). "Alex Olmedo, 1936-2020". Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).

External links[edit]