Diversity & Inclusion in Sports: “Pancho” the Pioneer for Mexican-American tennis

A year ago yesterday — as the 2016 edition of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships were coming to a close, preeminent historian, journalist and tennis enthusiast, Steve Flink, penned a piece on tennis pioneer and hall of famer, Richard Ricardo Alonzo Gonzalez.

Nicknamed “Pancho,” the native of south central Los Angeles and the eldest of seven children born to Mexican immigrants (Manuel and Carmen) was introduced to tennis at age 12. Like many first generation, youth tennis players living in urban centers without formal training, Gonzalez’s athletic talent and burgeoning love of the sport quickly led to achievement. At 14 years old, Gonzalez became Southern California’s #1 ranked player in the 15 & Under’ Boys Division, winning 4 of 5 major boys titles.

Despite purposely being barred from tennis by the Southern California Tennis Association, while being labeled and chastised as a “zoot-suiter” and a “pachuco,” at 20 years old Gonzalez went on to win the 1948 and 1949 U.S. National Championships (U.S. Open) at Forest Hills after enlisting in the U.S. Navy at 17.

Read the entire article here.

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