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My Friend Francisco “Pancho” Segura Goes To The Big Tennis Court in Heaven by Sigrid Draper

Photo by Brett Connors



November 19, 2017. Another giant of the tennis era has passed. As we say good bye, the tennis world on the other side says welcome home.


I did not know “Segoo” (also known as Sneaky) during his glory days but I knew him long enough to know of his contribution to tennis and his devotion to other players.


There was a tall one and a short one. One from Mexico and one from Ecuador. Two people who seemingly never should have met except on a tennis court where size does not matter as ONE SIZE fits all. Records showed them to be Richard Gonzalez and Segura but they proudly called themselves “Big Pancho” and “Little Pancho”!


Each had their special talents and neither of them wanted to ever lose. As I got to know and love them, I observed a love, an admiration and total respect that they had for each other.


I was reminded that life is like a train ride. You get on the train and the journey begins. During your ride, there are people who get on, get off, get on again but when you reach your destination, the person who is still there is your true friend!


This was “Little Pancho”. When “Big Pancho” was battling Cancer and the end seemed inevitable, he came to Judge Robert Kelleher’s Beach House to rest. Judge Kelleher wanted to make him comfortable and so we invited Alex Olmedo and “Little Pancho” to see him. From the minute they arrived, the change in Big Pancho was miraculous. They relived their entire careers! The stories they told were amazing. It was as though time had never passed.


This is how I remember “Little Pancho”. So giving, so caring and being there when another great tennis player needed support. He respected and loved his friend and never got off that train until the end. True friendship and camaraderie that seems to have disappeared in recent times as tennis players go their separate ways.


That he lived to be 96 Years old was a gift to all of us. “Big Pancho” and “Little Pancho” together again! That makes me smile!



Editors Note: Sigrid Draper has had an illustrious career as a White House Staffer, an Attorney, a list too long to list, but especially for being the great Love of Judge Robert J. Kelleher’s life. She and the Judge (The Father of OPEN TENNIS, A Winning Davis Cup Captain, USTA President, Hall Of Famer, both International and Southern California.)


Sigrid and the Judge had a great beach house in California. It wasn’t unusual for Gonzales to hop in his van and drive from Nevada for a visit. But this visit was different. They all knew “Big Pancho” was in his 5th set . They all knew this was probably his last Christmas. When Olmedo and “Little Pancho” arrived Gonzales was beyond thrilled.


He actually passed that JUNE / July. We were all together at WIMBLEDON. It was very hard especially being with Segura who now Realised he was the ONLY PANCHO in tennis.


Sigrid we thank you for this contribution. Come on. Will you Share more?

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