The man on the right gripping his belly in obvious distress is Pancho Gonzales, star and main attraction of Jack Kramer's troupe of touring tennis pros and—almost beyond argument—the best tennis player in the world. As a result of the pain pictured here and the pulled stomach muscle that caused it, however, both Kramer and tennis will have to do without Pancho for a while. It happened at Philadelphia last week as Pancho faced his old rival Lew Hoad for the umpty-umpth time. They were tied at three games apiece when the crowd noticed that Pancho was wincing after every serve and was holding his stomach.
As the play continued, Hoad began to take his own serve with more and more ease, and several times it looked as though he would break Gonzales'. But the champion didn't break, and when Hoad made a couple of errors at 6-6, Pancho moved in like a panther. He broke Hoad's serve and then in a magnificent finish served two aces to win the match.
"Pancho seldom lets anything bother him for long," a Kramer press agent had said of the star before the match. "He'll go into the arena before a match and look at the lights—they're bad—and he'll look at the ceiling—there's smoke—and he'll test the court—it's slippery. So he'll shrug his shoulder, figure it's the same for everybody and then go out there and give it a battle. That's what makes him a champion."
Gonzales was a champion when he beat Hoad last week, but in the small, damp locker room of the Arena a few minutes later, he was just a man with a pain in his belly. Lew Hoad, still upset by his defeat, sat staring at the floor. The youngsters Barry MacKay, Earl Buchholz, Alex Olmedo and Andres Gimeno stood by in awed silence. On a chair in a corner, hugging his gut, sat Pancho.
February 6, 1961
After a minute, Myron McNamara, Kramer's lieutenant, told a reporter: "He's going to try the doubles. If it hurts him too much, he'll have to drop out of the tour."
Pancho and his partner, Gimeno, lost the doubles quickly, quietly and decisively to Hoad and Buchholz, and as soon as the match ended, Gonzales hurried off court to the locker, his face drawn. Again he sat down heavily in the chair. McNamara hurried in. After a minute he hurried out again. "Guess we'll have to bring Segura in from the Coast to take his place," he said. Then the best tennis player in the world left the locker room without even saying goodby. At the door he brushed by two girls waiting for autographs.
"He's mean," said one. The other gave an exaggerated shudder. "You said it," she agreed. But Pancho Gonzales, one hand still clutching his stomach, was too preoccupied to notice.