Little Pancho


Little Pancho

The Life of Tennis Legend Pancho Segura

Caroline Seebohm

264 pages
57 images


May 2009


$29.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Born into a poor family in Ecuador, Pancho Segura was an undersized and undernourished kid working as a ball boy at an exclusive tennis club when he first picked up a racket. Little Pancho is the story of how this improbable athlete, with his bandy legs, infectious smile, and unorthodox two-handed style of play, became one of the greatest and most beloved tennis players of all time. During his twenty years in pro tennis, general audiences appreciated his spirit as a master entertainer, while tennis fans adored him.
Drawing on interviews with many in the game who knew or admired Pancho, Caroline Seebohm provides a close-up picture of the unlikely pro as his career first emerged in Ecuador and then developed further in the United States during the 1940s, where he broke down social and political prejudices with his charm, naturalness, and brilliance on the court.
Little Pancho follows Segura from the University of Miami, where he won three consecutive NCAA championships (still a record), to his time on the U.S. professional tennis tour. On the pro tour of that time, Segura and his fellow players struggled to earn a living and find acceptance in the traditional, sometimes elitist tennis world, which scorned “professionals” as outcasts. Little Pancho shows us Segura when he quit the professional tour to become a coach at the Beverly Hills Tennis Club, working with movie stars such as Charlton Heston, Barbra Streisand, and Lauren Bacall. And finally, we hear for the first time from some of the later champions Segura coached, including Jimmy Connors. This history of tennis in the midcentury also is the inspiring story of how one poor Latino kid, through sheer grit, grace, and talent, changed the face of the sport forever.

Author Bio

Caroline Seebohm is the author of numerous books, including No Regrets: The Life of Marietta Tree and the novel The Innocents. She is a keen tennis player, but her only title is the singles championship at her boarding school in England. She now lives on the Delaware River in New Jersey.


"Plenty of tennis books have chronicled the triumphs of the modern greats, but few have gone into the depth that Caroline Seebohm does in her excellent biography of the colorful and scrappy Pancho Segura, a major figure during the '40s and '50s."—Inside Tennis

"An entertaining, compelling new biography."Tennis Week

Table of Contents


Prologue: A Match to Remember

1. Miracle in Ecuador  

2. The Education of a Tennis Prodigy     

3. Hasta Luego!  

4. Love On and Off the Court 

5. The Professional Circus Act     

6. A New Contender     

7. Big Pancho and Little Pancho    

8. Playing Hard, Playing Tough     

9. Coach to the Stars  

10. Happy Days in Beverly Hills    

11. Jimbo Rules! 

12. Lows and Highs     

13. Staying Loose at La Costa

14. “Tennis Is My Life”


Appendix: From The Tennis Partner, by Abraham Verghese     





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