Modesto Junior College Athletics Hall of Famer, Alejandro “Alex” Olmedo passed away on Dec. 9, 2020 following a battle with brain cancer.
Olmedo attended MJC in 1954-55 and was a California state tennis championship finalist as a Pirate in 1954. His most notable accomplishment came five years later, winning both the men’s singles Wimbledon Tennis Championship and Australian Open in 1959.
Originally from Arequipa, Peru, Olmedo was first introduced to the sport by his father, who taught tennis at a local club. Olmedo won the club championship at just 14 years of age, and word began to spread of his talent. In 1954, a 17-year-old Olmedo, who spoke no English at the time, used the funds to board a ship from Lima, Peru to Havana, Cuba via the Panama Canal, then onto a plane to Miami, to Modesto, then finally to Los Angeles, eager to immerse himself in the thriving Southern California tennis world.
Olmedo worked at a tennis shop and went to night school to learn English. In 1956, he enrolled at the University of Southern California, where he went on to win the NCAA singles and doubles championships in 1956 and 1958.
Olmedo led the US to the 1958 Davis Cup championship, personally winning all three points needed (two singles and one doubles) to clinch the title and break a three-year run by the Australians. He also captured the US Nationals doubles title that year, partnered with his Davis Cup teammate, Ham Richardson.
Olmedo topped off his great 1958 with an incredible 1959. That year, he won both the Australian Championships and Wimbledon, where he defeated a young Rod Laver in the final. He was a finalist at the US Nationals as well.
Upon retiring from the pro tour in 1965, Olmedo became the Director of Tennis at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where he taught tennis for more than 25 years. He counted Hollywood elites such as Katharine Hepburn, Robert Duvall, Chevy Chase, and business tycoons Sumner Redstone and Kirk Kerkorian among his students. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.
Olmedo is survived by his daughters, Amy and Angela, and his son Alejandro, Jr., as well as four grandchildren: Marissa (25), Peirce (22), Alex III (21), and Nico (14). He was previously married to Ann Peirce Olmedo. Memorial services are to be determined.