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Pancho Segura becomes a U.S. citizen at 70
A trip that began 51 years ago ended last month when tennis great Pancho Segura stood in a San Diego courtroom and made the United States his home. In a ceremony presided over by Judge Edward J. Schwartz, the 70-year-old Segura took the oath of citizenship.
Segura left his native Ecuador in 1940 when his biggest fan, the country's president, Galo Plaza, rewarded him with a summer trip to the States. On that trip, Gardner Mulloy, then tennis coach at Miami, offered Segura a scholarship. "We were a poor family," says Segura. "That was the biggest break in my life."
After an illustrious amateur career, Segura turned pro in 1947, barnstorming the world with Jack Kramer, Bobby Riggs and the other Pancho, Gonzales. Though he made nowhere near the money that today's pros do, Segura was able to put his son through law school and his daughter through college. After his playing days, Segura became a renowned instructor, thanks largely to the success of his prize pupil, Jimmy Connors.
Segura says he would have liked to have become a U.S. citizen sooner. "I always wanted to become an American, but I was never here long enough. I was always following the tennis ball around the globe." His wife, Beverly, has a different theory: "Pancho's a legend in Ecuador. I think he waited out of respect for his family and country."
Now that he is a citizen, Segura says, "I'm proud to be an American. Now I can vote. Now I can eat cornflakes and bananas and be a gringo. From now on, I am a U.S. citizen first and a tennis player second." To show his gratitude, Segura has promised Judge Schwartz free lessons on his serve.
Swing and a Miss
A batting champ strikes out against the deputy commish
In a letter to the baseball owners last week, commissioner Fay Vincent wrote that he was "pleased to inform" them that the lawsuit that four-time National League batting champ Bill Madlock had brought against his agent of 14 years, deputy baseball commissioner Steve Greenberg, had been concluded and that "Steve has prevailed on all counts."
On reading Vincent's letter, one would conclude that Greenberg had been unjustly accused by Madlock and totally exonerated. In fact, the independent arbitrator in Los Angeles assigned to settle the suit, retired Superior Court Judge Lester E. Olson, found that Greenberg had given Madlock bad investment advice and that the only reason Greenberg is not liable is that Madlock filed his suit a few days after the legal deadline.