During the summer of 1987, Alex Olmedo stood next to Stan Smith when they were both inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame as members of the same induction class. On Friday, December 8, 2017, the duo once again shared the stage at the Los Angeles Tennis Club when Smith presented Olmedo with his official Hall of Fame Ring during a special evening at the historic tennis club. The Hall of Fame rings are one-of-a-kind pieces that are being presented to Hall of Famers at tennis events around the world to commemorate their recognition as being among the sport’s greatest champions.
“For me to receive this wonderful ring is an honor. To be included with all these great players that have played all over the world, who play for schools, who play for great clubs, it’s amazing,” remarked Olmedo. “Tennis is the greatest game in the world. Thank you.“
Originally from Peru, Olmedo came to US and played for University of Southern California, where he won the NCAA Intercollegiate titles in both singles and doubles in 1956 and 1958.
Southern California Tennis “Czar” Perry Jones, a leader in the sport in the 1950s and tournament director at the storied Pacific Southwest Championships (which was played at LATC), tapped Alex as one of the preeminent players of his time. He supported his career immensely, and lobbied hard to make him part of the US Davis Cup team, despite his Peruvian roots.
Jones' insight was spot on. "The Chief" as he was dubbed due to his Incan ancestry, was an incredible Davis Cupper for the US. He was an integral member of the 1958 Championship team that won the title back after a 3-year run by the Australians. In the final that year, Olmedo won 2 singles rubbers and a doubles point to clinch the title for the Americans that year.
Olmedo also captured the US Nationals doubles title that year, with his Davis Cup teammate, Ham Richardson. Olmedo topped off his great 1958 with an incredible 1959. That year, he won both the 1959 Australian Championships and Wimbledon, where he defeated a young Rod Laver in the final.
Olmedo was the No. 1 ranked player in the U.S. in 1959 and No. 2 in the world in 1959. He turned pro in 1960, leaving the amateur circuit behind. He retired from the pro tour in 1965, and became the teaching pro at the Beverly Hills Hotel, working with Hollywood elites such as Katharine Hepburn, Robert Duvall, and Chevy Chase.
Olmedo received his Hall of Fame ring at a special celebration at the Los Angeles Tennis Club, where club members and Alex's family and friends gathered to celebrate him and his place in tennis history, and to pay homage to the club as being one of the nation's most historic tennis clubs. Hall of Famers in attendance for the special celebration included Tracy Austin, Michael Chang, Brad Parks, Charlie Pasarell, and Rod Laver.
Laver commented, "Alex was a great player. He beat me at Wimbledon, and he won the Davis Cup down in Australia, beating the Australian boys. He was a great player."