Charlie Pasarell

Charlie Pasarell

Class of 2013

Contributor

Career Achievements

Contributions to Tennis

  • Launched the National Junior Tennis League with Arthur Ashe, 1969
  • Along with Donald Dell, Jack Kramer, and Cliff Drysdale formed the Association of Tennis Professionals, 1972
  • ATP board throughout the 1970s
  • Board Member, ATP World Tour, 1990-2010
  • Revived Indian Wells Tournament, 1981
  • Indian Wells (now BNP Paribas Open) Tournament Director,1981-2009

Top Ranking
World No. 11 (1966)

Grand Slam Results
Four-time finalist

Career Titles
Singles: 23
Doubles: 30

Open Era Record
Overall Record: 465-442
Singles: 229-241
Doubles: 236-201

Davis Cup
United States Team Member 1966-1968, 1974
Overall Record: 6-1
Singles Record: 3-0
Doubles Record: 3-1 

Citizenship: USA Born: February 12, 1944 in San Juan, Puerto Rico Played: Right-handed

Amongst the players who launched their career prior to the Open Era, Charlie Pasarell was a big-serving, stylish player with textbook motion and delivery. He slugged it out against the game’s finest, including Dennis Ralston, Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, Roy Emerson, Tony Roche, and Pancho Gonzales. While perhaps not the most well-known in that group of luminaries, Pasarell was a sensational junior player, the champion of his native Puerto Rico six times in the 1950s and a star on the U.S. junior circuit who racked up numerous titles at such premier events as the Orange Bowl and U.S. Junior Championships.

As a professional, Pasarell won 23 singles championships on grass, clay, and hard court – defeating all of the aforementioned players – and 30 doubles titles. While major trophies eluded him, he was a quarterfinalist at both Wimbledon (1976) and the U.S. National Championships (1965) and made concerted, third-round runs at the Australian Open (1976, 1977) and French Open (1973).  In doubles play, he advanced to four major finals.  

Every tennis player has at least one career-defining match, and Pasarell’s came in 1969 when he and Gonzales slugged it out in the former-longest match in Wimbledon history relative to games played and time – 5 hours, 12 minutes. That mark lasted 41 years until John Isner and Nicolas Mahut eclipsed it in 2010, slogging through 183 games over three days (official match time was listed as 8 hours, 11 minutes). It was match of age (Gonzales was 41) against youth (Pasarell was 25) and the veritable Gonzales came back from being two sets down to seize victory, 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9.

A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Pasarell honed his talents at UCLA, playing on a team with Ashe. Pasarell won both the 1966 NCAA singles and doubles titles and was the No. 1 ranked American player. That stature was solidified when in 1967 he became the first man in more than 30 years to win the U.S. National Indoors in back-to-back years.

Insiders know exactly how fluent and skilled Pasarell was between the lines. He represented the United States in Davis Cup competition five times.  In 1972, Pasarell, along with Donald Dell, Jack Kramer, and Cliff Drysdale formed the Association of Tennis Professionals, an organization serving the interests of tour players in the Open Era.  He worked ably on the ATP board throughout the 1970s, serving as a tournament representative on the board of the Men’s International Professional Tennis Council, and in 1990 became a board member on the ATP World Tour until 2010.

Pasarell became a top-flight tournament director in 1981, managing the Indian Wells Masters, now known as the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California until 2009.  Prior to Pasarell’s arrival, the event was struggling and in danger of being removed from the region. Under Pasarell's leadership, the event has grown to be the largest two-week combined ATP and WTA tennis tournament in the world and the most well-attended tennis event after the four majors. The tournament has grown from 30,000 attendees to more than 370,000, and the television broadcast has grown from reaching 25 million homes to more than one billion homes worldwide. The growth has necessitated new, state-of-the-art tennis facilities, taking the venue from a 7,500-seat stadium court to a 24-court, 54-acre complex including a 16,100-seat main stadium, seven smaller stadiums, and 44 luxury suites.

Long before Pasarell retired from the tour, he worked toward advancing the game. In 1969, he and Ashe, along with Sheridan Snyder, launched the National Junior Tennis League, an organization whose mission was to impact at-risk children by introducing them to tennis. The program is the largest grassroots tennis program in the United Sates, with more than 650 chapters.

Pasarell has worked with the Tennis Channel as an analyst, and in addition to his place in Newport, he’s been inducted into the Intercollegiate Men’s Tennis Hall of Fame, the Southern California Tennis Association Hall of Fame, and was elected to the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.

FUN FACTS

He was honored with a Palm Springs Walk of Stars in March 2001, joining such entertainment legends as Bob Hope, Marilyn Monroe, Phyllis Diller, Rock Hudson, and President Ronald Reagan.

Grand Slam

Grand Slam Best Results

Singles
Wimbledon: QF 1976
U.S. Nationals: QF 1965

Doubles
Australian Open: F 1977
French Open: 1970
U.S. Nationals/US Open: F 1965, 1969