Playing tennis eventually brought Pancho Segura from his native Ecuador to the United States, where he found himself confronted with the hypocrisy of a tennis establishment that chose to maintain that playing for money was gauche. That establishment’s champions got silver plates and cash under the table…far enough under the table so that the people providing the cash could pretend it was unrelated to the competition.
Segura turned pro of necessity, toured the country and the world with Jack Kramer’s traveling tennis cavalcade, and never had the opportunity to play in the big “amateur” championships until tennis finally entered the open era in the late sixties, by which time Segura was well past his prime.
But, as Caroline Seebohm demonstrates in her biography, Segura had a fine time anyway. He rode the game and his personality into a certain celebrity, made a second career out of giving lessons to Hollywood types, and eventually got credit for helping Jimmy Connors to become a champion. In Little Pancho, he comes across as a likeable fellow whose achievement on the court has probably been underrated, and who deserves credit for working hard to make a life in the game he enjoyed and helped popularize.
This program aired on May 21, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.