Glenn Bassett passed away last week at the age of 93 at his home in Laguna Hills. A former standout junior in the 1940s, Fox became a Bruin legend, becoming the only player to win a national championship as a player, assistant coach and head coach. After more than eight decades on tennis courts across the nation, Bassett leaves behind a legacy cherished not only by UCLA Bruins fans everywhere, but also the entire Southern California tennis community.
UCLA Men's Tennis head coach Billy Martin, Bassett's successor, told Bruins Nation, "It’s a sad day for the Bruin family to have lost Glenn Bassett. I was so fortunate to have played for him, worked under him and succeeded him. I feel very fortunate to have had such a great mentor. He was one of the most genuine people I have ever met and the biggest Bruin fan I’ve known."
Beginning in 1967, Bassett coached the UCLA team for 27 seasons, compiling a record of 592-92-2. The team won 13 conference championships and seven NCAA team championships, producing three NCAA singles champions, four NCAA doubles team champions and 49 All-Americans. Bassett later spent two seasons as volunteer assistant coach at Pepperdine before taking the reins as head coach one final time for the Waves in 1996.
Jeff Austin, now the head of Octagon’s basketball division and agent to NBA star Steph Curry, was a four-time All-American and played on UCLA national championship teams in 1970 and 1971 under Coach Bassett.
“I was a senior in high school, and he invited me up to hit with some of his guys, so I always just felt really comfortable," Austin recalls. “I had exposure to Coach and how he ran his practices and his running of the team. It was between UCLA and Stanford for me, and it was really no contest, because of what I saw from Coach at such an early age.”
Allen Fox was named an All-American at UCLA in 1959, 1960 and 1961. He finished among the top 10 players in the U.S. five times between 1961 and 1968. In 1979, Fox took over as head coach at Pepperdine University where he remained until 1995. Bassett replaced Fox at Pepperdine in 1996 for one year before retiring.
“I started coaching the team at Pepperdine and we were not a big-name school at the time,” says Fox. “I remember my first year in 1979 Glenn agreed to play us. I think they were ranked No. 2 in the country. To bring his team over to Pepperdine my first year – and then we went there – well, the only reason he did that was to help me. Which I never forgot. It was so kind of him. He didn’t have to do it, but he did it.”
The current head women’s coach at Cal-State Los Angeles, Richard Gallien spent 11 years at Pepperdine as a player, assistant coach and co-head coach competing against and later coaching alongside Bassett. Gallien also coached the USC women’s team for 22 successful seasons.
“For the last 22 years I would call him after every match we played,” Gallien says. “That’s why I always wanted to win because I didn’t want to call him after we lost. But he was always the first person I called because I said that I would. He would always make me feel better and say, ‘Get the girls going at practice’ and just say something I needed to hear. I was clearly the lucky one in that relationship.”
Fox, on practicing and playing against Bassett while being coached by him at UCLA:
“When I went to UCLA, he was assisting coach J.D. Morgan and I would practice with Glenn when I was 19 and 20 years old. And we were quite close, but I could usually beat him in practice. We ended up playing in the first round at Ojai in the Open Men’s division because I was playing on the freshman team. And he beat the hell out of me. Before I knew what happened, it was over. Practice was one thing, but Ojai was a different story.”
Austin, on managing the 1971 Bruins team, who many call one of the greatest college teams of all-time:
“Jeff Borowiak was the defending NCAA champion, you had Jimmy Connors who won the NCAAs that year, and you had Haroon Rahim who for most of the year played No. 1. You pretty much had three No. 1's and you would think that that would be an issue. I wasn’t one of those guys. I played No. 4 that year. Maybe there was tension amongst those guys, but I don’t recall it. To win the NCAAs and not be No. 1 on your own team, that’s really hard; that’s a hard dynamic.
“We were so deep it was ridiculous. We had guys who didn’t play who were really good. But it was all harmonious and there weren’t any egos. It was quite a remarkable thing and a real tribute to how he managed us.”
Gallien, on his close friendship with Bassett:
“I’ve been lucky enough to be his friend a long time. I spoke to him a couple of months ago and knew he was struggling. But he was always cheery, and he would never complain. My goodness, he would never complain. He would always put everyone first. When I would call him, he would ask about my children and was reluctant to speak about his own failing health. Just a lovely guy and one of the most decent people, if not THE most decent person, I’ve ever met.”
Memorial service details for Glenn Bassett have not yet been announced.