Francisco Segura Caano was born on June 20, 1921 in Guayaquil, Ecuador. He is fondly nicknamed as “Pancho” and became one of the few aliens who made it big in the American professional tennis scene. Nobody would have thought that Segura would make it far in tennis what with flimsy-looking legs, an unorthodox two-fisted forehand and a 5-foot-6 frame. However, it was this combination that placed Segura to the Number 4 ranking in the United States.
Segura was raised with a condition called rickets which caused his legs to become deformed. This did not stop Segura’s will to play tennis, in fact, it made him stronger and drove him to play the game well. He was so weak when he started and had to grip the racket with two hands. He became the first right-hander to use a two-fisted forehand.
Before hitting the American scene, Segura was already well-known in his home country, Ecaudor. He won an Ecaudorian title when he was 17 years old in 1938 as well as other Latin American titles. He came to the United States on a tennis scholarship at the University of Miami. While in Miami, he won three straight US Intercollegiate titles in 1943, 1944, and 1945. He was the first man to do so in that century. In 1944, he won the US Clay Court title and in 1946 he won the US Indoor title. He was included in the US Top Ten six times, his highest on number 3 in 1943, 1944 and 1945.
When Segura became a professional tennis player, he was out of the limelight. Though he was known for being a shrewd strategist, a cunning lobber, and a killer with a forehand, he was overshadowed by Jack Kramer and Pancho Gonzalez. As a professional, Segura played in the US Pro Championships, winning the singles title three times in a row in 150-1952. He also won the doubles title with Gonzalez in 1954 and 1958. One of Seguras’s career highlights was playing the longest doubles match of Wimbledon’s open era. He played together with Alex Olmedo, both of them beating Abe Segal and Gordon Forbes.
When Segura was out of professional tennis, he became a teaching pro and made his mark as one of the sharpest minds in the game. He was instrumental in the development of another tennis start, Jimmy Connors. Segura was a crowd favorite yet never made big money. He was elected into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1984.