, born Francisco Olegario
(June 20, 1921, known as "Segoo"
was a leading tennis
player of the 1940s and
1950s, both as an amateur and as a professional. In 1950 and 1952,
as a professional, he was the World
was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, but moved
to the United States in the late 1930s and is a citizen of both
Segura almost died at his premature birth, then suffered from
hernias and malaria. No more than 5'6" (1.68 m) tall, he had badly
bowed legs from the rickets
that he also had
as a child. In spite of this, he had extremely fast footwork and a
devastating two-handed forehand
frequent adversary and tennis promoter Jack Kramer
once called .
time he was 17 Segura had won a number of titles in Latin America
and was offered a tennis scholarship at the University of
He won the NCAA Singles Championships
three straight years: in 1943, 1944, and 1945. He was also the No.
3 ranked American player during those years. He won the U.S.
Indoors in 1946 and U.S. Clay Courts in 1944 but was never able to
win the United States Championships at Forest Hills, NY although he
reached the Semi-finals a number of times.
Kramer writes that he lost
Long before Open Tennis
Segura turned professional in 1947 and was an immediate
crowd-pleaser with his winning smile, infectiously humorous manner,
and unorthodox but deadly game. According to Bobby Riggs
(the promoter of the forthcoming Riggs-Kramer tour for
1948) attempted to sign Ted Schroeder
to play the preliminary matches of the tour. Ultimately he failed
and instead signed Segura to play the latest Australian amateur
champion, Dinny Pails
. Instead of a
percentage of the gross receipts, as Riggs and Kramer were
contracted for, Segura and Pails were each paid $300 a week.
Although he was overshadowed as a player by Kramer and Pancho Gonzales
in his professional career,
Segura won many matches against the greatest players in the world
and was particularly brilliant in the annual United States Pro
. He won the title three years in a row from 1950
through 1952, beating Gonzales twice. He also lost in the finals
four times, losing to Gonzales three times and once to Butch Buchholz
in 1962 when he was 41 years
In the 1950–1951 professional tour in which Segura played the
headline match against Kramer he was beaten 58 matches to 27, a
noticeably better performance, however, than Gonzales's record of
27 victories and 96 defeats against Kramer the year before. In the
following tour, that of 1952-1953, Segura was reduced to playing
the preliminary match, where he beat the Australian Ken McGregor
71 matches to 25.
For the calendar year of 1952, when Kramer, Budge, and Gonzales all
played sporadically, Segura was ranked as the World
player by the Professional Lawn Tennis Association, with Gonzales
at No. 2.
Segura, Kramer writes, "was the one pro who brought people back.
The fans would come out to see the new challenger face the old
champion, but they would leave talking about the bandy-legged
little suonuvabitch who gave them such pleasure playing the first
match and the doubles. The next time the tour came to town the fans
would come back to see Segoo." For this, according to Kramer,
Segura made more than $50,000 in each of six or seven years during
the 1950s, a time in which "there were very few baseball, football
or basketball players making $50,000."
Segura, says Kramer, probably played "more matches against top
players than anyone in history. Besides my couple hundred, he must
have played Gonzales a hundred and fifty, and Budge
all around fifty apiece. I
beat him about 80 percent of the time, and Gonzales also held an
edge over him. He was close with Budge. Pails
beat him 41-31 on the Kramer-Riggs tour,
but that was when Segoo was still learning how to play fast
surfaces. With everybody else, he had the edge: Sedgman, Rosewall,
According to Kramer,
Kramer goes on to say, however, that with Segura:
At a professional event in 1951 the forehand drives of a number of
players were electronically measured. Pancho Gonzales hit the
fastest, 112.88 mph, followed by Jack Kramer at 107.8 and Welby Van Horn
at 104. Since it was generally
assumed at the time that Segura had the hardest forehand among his
contemporaries, it is possible that he was not present at that
After leaving the Professional Tour, Segura became a teaching
professional at the La Costa Resort
in Southern California
, where he
is now retired. He is widely credited with helping coach, mentor,
and structure the playing game of a young Jimmy Connors
Before the famous "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match between
Billie Jean King
and Bobby Riggs
in 1973, he openly supported Riggs.
When King won the match, Segura declared disgustedly that Riggs was
only the third best senior player, behind himself and Gardnar Mulloy
, and challenged King to
another match. King refused.
inducted into the International Tennis Hall of
Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1984.
- The Game, My 40 Years in Tennis (1979), Jack Kramer
with Frank Deford (ISBN 0-399-12336-9)
- The History of Professional Tennis (2003) Joe
- Tennis Is My Racket, (1949), Bobby Riggs