Pancho Segura, Tennis Great of the ’40s and ’50s, Dies at 96

“I played with the speed of a bullet,” Segura told The San Diego Union-Tribune in 1987. “Great eyes, great hands, great under pressure. I was a fighter, a killer. I hated to lose to anyone. My concentration was so intense. I could do anything with the ball.”

Francisco Olegario Segura was born on June 20, 1921, the eldest of 10 children of Domingo Segura and his wife, the former Francisca Cano. She gave birth to him aboard a barge on a river while trying to reach a hospital in Guayaquil, Ecuador, from the family home in Quevedo.

In addition to rickets, he also had malaria as a child, but doctors said that tennis would strengthen him.

He began playing while a ball boy at an exclusive club in Guayaquil, getting the job through a wealthy businessman who employed his father as a caretaker.

As a youngster, Segura was too small (he grew to 5-foot-6 and 150 pounds or so as a pro) and too weak to use the orthodox one-handed forehand so he developed his two-fisted shot.

Segura using his two-handed forehand at a tournament at Madison Square Garden in 1966.

United Press International …

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