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USC Trojan, 2-time Slam winner Olmedo dies after battle with cancer

Two-time major champion and former USC Trojan Alex Olmedo has died following a lengthy battle with brain cancer.

Mr. Olmedo, originally from Peru, won the NCAA singles and doubles titles at USC in both 1956 and 1958. From 1958-59, Mr. Olmedo repeated the same feat as a member of the Davis Cup team despite being of Peruvian citizenship. The roster spot was considered controversial at the time, but did little to diminish Mr. Olmedo’s superior tennis abilities. He would go on to capture the Australian and Wimbledon titles, the latter a straight set thrashing of Rod Laver at the All-England Club.

Mr. Olmedo’s first American coach was Perry T. Jones, who was at the time the president of the SCTA, and later, Olmedo’s David Cup captain. Mr. Olmedo was inducted into the SCTA Hall of Fame in 2000, thirteen years after he was enshrined at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport.

“I have a philosophy,” he told Sports Illustrated as part of a cover feature in 1959 that dubbed him ‘the enigma of tennis.’ “I have heard so much from so many. I never listen exactly. I mean, I listen. But I don’t. I learn most from players I play against. That’s the big way you learn tennis.”

Mr. Olmedo won 21 career titles and peaked at #2. Along with his two Slam singles titles, Mr. Olmedo won his only men’s doubles major with Ham Richardson and reached the mixed doubles final with Maria Bueno at the 1958 US Open.

“Alex Olmedo came from humble beginnings and he made sacrifices and worked hard to chase his dreams of a tennis career, ultimately becoming a major champion and Hall of Famer. He was a terrific player and a Davis Cup hero,” said International Tennis Hall of Fame President Stan Smith. “Personally, we shared a love for the USC Trojans, Davis Cup competition, and tennis overall. He was a great champion, a great friend, and he will be missed.”