The tennis center at Cal State Los Angeles will now be named for International Tennis Hall of Fame members Rosie Casals and Pancho Gonzalez after a vote by the California State University Board of Trustees
The Rosie Casals and Pancho Gonzalez Tennis Center at the Billie Jean King Sports Complex will host numerous collegiate and public activities each year. It will include a new two-story building adjacent to the existing tennis courts.
A ceremony with Casals and tennis great Billie Jean King at the trustees meeting Wednesday marked the milestone immediately after the trustees voted. King made an emotional speech to the trustees recalling the difficulties Casals and Gonzalez faced growing up on their way to tennis stardom, including finding basic equipment and public courts on which to play.
The first floor of the newly named center will include men’s and women’s locker rooms, administrative offices, a concessions kiosk and an athletic training facility. The second floor will include indoor and outdoor viewing areas, the Sally Ride and Tam O’Shaughnessy Learning Center and a full kitchen.
The center will also serve as the Southern California home of the Richard “Pancho” Gonzalez Youth Foundation, which seeks to inspire and enhance the lives of youths through physical fitness, academic pursuit and character building utilizing tennis.
A large part of the foundation’s efforts are made toward non-traditional tennis participants, such as minority, immigrant and economically challenged youth.
More than $2.5 million has been raised for the tennis center with the assistance of King, the tennis legend who is a Cal State Los Angeles alumnus, Casals and the family of Gonzalez, who died in 1995 at the age of 67, according to a university system official.
King thanked the trustees at today’s meeting for approving the naming of the tennis center, calling it a fitting tribute to two of the sport’s pioneers.
“Naming the tennis center after Rosie Casals and Pancho Gonzalez honors and highlights their roles in tennis history,” said King, who was joined by Casals and Cal State Los Angeles President William A. Covino for the vote.
“Their stories will resonate with many and serve to motivate and encourage students to achieve excellence.”
Casals won 11 professional singles titles and 112 doubles championships, second all-time behind Martina Navratilova’s 177, teaming with King for 56, including seven at Grand Slam tournaments.
Casals joined King in fighting for increased prize money for women’s tennis. They were among the original nine players on the circuit sponsored by Virginia Slims cigarettes, with Casals winning the inaugural tournament.
Gonzales was raised in Los Angeles and was a self-taught player known for his powerful serve and being a fierce competitor.
Gonzales won the men’s singles title at what is now the U.S. Open in 1948 and 1949. For much of his career, he was ineligible to play in the Grand Slam tournaments because he was a professional when they were limited to amateur players.
—City News Service
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