Tennis Prose




Jul/21

20

Biofile Walter Redondo Interview

Status: Former ATP no. 226. Reached round of 16 in Wimbledon doubles. Now a successful artist and sculptor in San Diego.

DOB: June 14, 1958 In: San Diego, CA

First Tennis Memory: I have so many amazing memories. The time I realized I wanted to be a professional tennis player. When I was watching Rod Laver play Pancho Segura at the San Diego Sports Arena when I was seven. I was in the top row. I noticed how it was dark in the arena, the only lights were on the court. I remember that to be a pro became my purpose.

Tennis Inspirations: Wow. I would probably say it was Rod Laver. I’m sure he inspired so many players. I liked his reserved attitude on the court. It inspired me to keep my composure on the court and to be the best I could be. I had the opportunity to hit with him and Cliff Drysdale. He later came to an art show of mine. That’s one thing I admire about him – how humble he is. How he walks around, not like he’s Rod Laver, but just another human being on Earth.

First Famous Player You Met Or Encountered: It would have been Clark Graebner. I was 12. LA Tennis Club. I don’t know how he saw me or knew about me. He called me out to hit with him. To be recognized by a world ranked player was a big moment for me. Later I saw Clark playing Ilie Nastase and Nastase was doing his antics. And Clark told him if he continued to do his antics, he’s coming over to the other side of the net. That stuck with me. Clark Graebner was a big man.

Last Book Read: I’m spiritually involved. I read the Bible every day. Key book for me.

Greatest Career Moment: Oh boy, probably winning National Under 16s. I had called it before, I said I could win it hitting a backhand down the line and that’s exactly what happened. Sealed no. 1 in the US for me.

Most Painful Moment: Last round of Wimbledon qualies, Erik van Dillen – Charlie Pasarell was coaching him – I had beaten Erik a week or two before. The umpire had called the match I felt badly against me. I felt bamboozled after the match. Erik came to net and said, I’m sorry for how the match went for you. The umpire said to me, Young man, I come across a lot of young men like you. You should be sweeping the street. Charlie Pasarell heard him say that. And got the chair umpire out of the tournament.

Favorite Tournament: Probably playing Wimbledon. I remember the first time walking on grass.

Best You Ever Felt On Court: I would probably have to say 16s Nationals. No, I’m sorry, I was playing US Davis Cup in Florida for Sunshine Cup. If I lost the match we would have lost to Germany. The coach said, Walter we need you to win the match. I got into that place where the ball appears bigger. We ended up beating Germany in the finals of Sunshine Cup.

Funny Tennis Memory: A practice set with my brother Skip and sister Marita. Skip had an amazing serve – he was a baseball player too. Marita was playing doubles with him. Sometimes he could not control his serve very well. And he hit her in the ear. She said she lost hearing for a day. That’s a memory that comes up now.

Embarrassing Tennis Memory: Oh my gosh, that’s a tough one. I don’t think I ever really experienced being embarrassed on court. I look back on those days… I had bad days. Walking off court losing 60 61. Not sure where it was. Or if it was a practice match…I just thought of one… Playing Gene Mayer. He had just beaten Roscoe Tanner in 51 minutes in Denver the week before. I had never been toyed with on the court before in my life. He controlled the ball so well. Like it was on a string. When I walked off the court I felt like a puppet. Gene had such control – Prince had just come out with the large head raquets. It was incredible how he used that racquet the way he did, with such a little backswing, moving the ball to the corners. He had me running side to side. I felt so desperate. Embarrassed. I felt toyed with. I felt like that. We ended up talking years later. I remember he told me it was one thing to get to the top, then it’s another level of work to stay there. I really appreciated him sharing that with me.

Strangest Match: The Wimbledon match was strange. This match was against Tim Wilkison. He beat me in a tournament right after 16s Nationals. I had to play a tournament in North Carolina before a San Diego team event. I was tired and didn’t really want to play. I lost the match. I walked off court not feeling good about myself. It dropped my confidence to another level. I remember after that Tim Wilkison took off. I felt left behind to a degree. He got to top 30 in the world.

Funniest Players Encountered: Oh wow, I think Jimmy Connors was pretty funny. He played a match at Queens Club and he was very, very tight. I would have never noticed it. After the match he came over to Spencer Segura and myself and said, Did you see how tight I was? If I had been any tighter I wouldn’t have been able to fart. After hearing that from Jimmy Connors, who I never thought got tight, it really spoke to me: Every player gets tight. But he knew how to rearrange his thinking to get through a match.

Fiercest Competitor Encountered: Wow. I had to do a small exhibition against Michael Chang. When he was a junior. Four game set in San Diego. I remember walking out on court and noticing his intensity. Every ball came back. He never lost his focus. Probably the four toughest games I came across. He was mentally so there.

Favorite Artists: Willem de Koonig for sure.

Why Do You Love Tennis: What it does for an individual. It has the potential to bring out the best and the worst in a player. I think for me that’s what I really love about it.

Favorite Players To Watch: Roger Federer is the prettiest to watch. Watching Nadal and Djokovic. For me being an artist, his gift to control the ball, Roger is the one I enjoy watching the most.

People Qualities Most Admired: I think the ability to be really honest. Being an artist, being really honest about what we want to be is a key thing for me.

Favorite Movies: The Book Of Eli.

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Coconut Almond Chocolate.

Walder Redondo art interview.

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1 comment

  • Ramon Danganan · July 21, 2021 at 3:48 pm

    Walter, you came a little after me, but I enjoyed watching or hearing about you play…it was rare back then to hear of a Pinoy player….(I think there was a woman player who was good in the late 60’s)…then there was you and then Marita…

    the Ampons were in the midwest…….very nice to see your art work when I am in the San Diego area…
    cheers…and enjoy the summer
    Ray

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