Just a couple of days after Dennis Ralston, the tennis world has lost another legendary player. The Davis Cup champion, a Major winner and the 1987 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Alex Olmedo died at his home in Los Angeles due to brain cancer at 84.
Alex was among the world's best players in the late 50s and early 60s, securing his most significant awards in 1958 and 1959 before turning pro. Olmedo was born in Peru in March 1936, embracing tennis at a young age and hoping to get a chance to work on his game and competing internationally.
It came with help from the coach Stanley Singer, who sent him to Los Angeles. Alex found his new home at Los Angeles Tennis Club (LATC), the famous court where the legends like Ellsworth Vines, Jack Kramer, Bobby Riggs and Pancho Gonzales had competed before and alongside him.
Also, the University of Southern California used those courts as their base, embracing Olmedo, who soon became the best college player in the States. In 1958, Olmedo joined the USA Davis Cup squad and scored six victories over Italy and Australia to share the title with his teammates.
In the first tie, Alex toppled Mal Anderson 8-6, 2-6, 9-7, 8-6, stepping on the doubles court with Hamilton Richardson to score a massive 10-12, 3-6, 16-14, 6-3, 7-5 triumph over the Aussie pair and send the USA in front.
Battling against Ashleigh Cooper in the fourth rubber, Alex scored a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 8-6 win to seal the deal for the Americans and deliver the Davis Cup crown. The rain made the court slippery and dangerous but that wasn't an obstacle for Olmedo, who moved on it like it was in perfect shape to outplay his opponents at the net.
Alex Olmedo was one of the finest players in the last 50s and early 60s.
Becoming one of the world's leading players on grass, Olmedo claimed the Australian Open crown in 1959 and cemented his grass-court supremacy at Wimbledon, toppling Roy Emerson and Rod Laver to earn tennis glory.
Alex became a pro in 1960, crossing the globe many times and battling against the world's finest players before the Open era started. Olmedo stayed active until 1978, playing only in California in those last years and becoming a regular guest at Beverly Hills Hotel, giving tennis lessons to many celebrities for four decades!
"Alex Olmedo came from humble beginnings and made sacrifices and worked hard to chase his dreams of a tennis career, ultimately becoming a major champion and Hall of Famer. He was a terrific player and a Davis Cup hero.
He was a great champion, a great friend, and he will be missed," Stan Smith, president of the Rhode Island-based International Tennis Hall of Fame, said.