That's funny, I was just reading this reply of sorts on TR.net
Our all-time Hispanic/Latino Top 10
Plus Russians v. Russians in Moscow
By Matthew Cronin, TennisReporters.net
A long time ago in a country not so far away, I wrote a piece on Antonio Osuna, Mexico's greatest player who died tragically in a plane crash in 1969, just six years after he won the US Open.
All the research I did at the time indicated that Osuna was the god of Mexican tennis and inspired the likes of Raul Ramirez, Jorge Lozano, Leonardo Lavalle, Francisco Maciel, etc.
So how he didn't make it on to the USTA's "Top 5 Most Influential Moments in Hispanic Tennis History" befuddles me. The list, voted on by a panel that include Ricardo Acuna, Kristina Brandi, Gigi Fernandez, Mary Joe Fernandez, Manny Guillen, Sadiel Lebron, Angel Lopez, Francisco Ruiz, Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario and Nube Urgiles, rates these folks and their accomplishments as worthy of higher honor:
1. 1948: Richard "Pancho" Gonzalez of the United States becomes the first Hispanic man to win a major championship, winning the men's singles title at the '48 U.S. Championships. He won a second title in 1949.
2. 1977: Guillermo Vilas of Argentina wins a men's Open-Era record 46-straight matches in 1977, which includes his upset victory over Jimmy Connors in the men's singles final at the '77 US Open.
3. 1990: Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina ends the two-year US Open reign of Steffi Graf at the US Open, beating the seemingly invincible German to win the '90 US Open women's singles title.
4. 1996: Dominican-born Mary Joe Fernandez and Puerto Rican-born Gigi Fernandez win consecutive gold medals in women's doubles for the United States at the '92 and '96 Olympic Games.
5. 2004: Nicolas Massu and Fernando Gonzalez of Chile dominate the men's tennis competition at the Olympic Games in 2004 in Athens, Greece, with Massu winning gold medals in both singles and doubles, while Gonzalez wins the doubles gold with Massu and also wins the bronze medal in men's singles. The gold medals are the first ever Olympic gold medals for Chile.
I'd go with Pancho as the No. 1, too, and can live with Vilas at No. 2 (although I think his '77 win at Roland Garros was bigger), but cannot support the rest of those choices in that order.
Osuna inspired North America's largest Latino nation (and please don't write to tell me that it's is part of Central America) , which also contributes the most migrants to the U.S. Mexican fans follow Mexicans first, which is why most Mexican-American kids are going to know, say, Raul Ramirez over Vilas. When you are naming influential moments, you are supposed to target events that have bigger influence and Osuna certainly had a impact far larger than any of the last three on the list, merely because his nation has a greater population and because he is known by Mexican ex-pats, who far outnumber the amount of Argentine, Dominican, and Chilean ex-pats in the US and Canada combined.
With that said, both Gonzalez and Osuna would be embarrassed by the lack of Latino kids playing tennis right now. Props to USTA president Franklin Johnson (and staffer Gina Torres) for pushing this list and for forming a committee to look into the issue. But, outside of Mary Joe – who, by the way, has said that her extended family rarely discussed tennis when she was growing up – name one other US Latino or Latina impact player over the past three decades? There hasn't been any. Oh sure, there have been pros, but certainly not enough and if you look who's playing tennis in the Southern California these days, it's mostly Asian-American kids. In Northern California, many of them are Filipino-Americans. It's rare to see Latino kids taking to the court in droves.
Why that's not happening is a column for another time, but allow me to mention fill out my Top 10:
Gaby would come in at No. 4, and that's because she's a woman and Latin American girls needed to be inspired to play again.
At No. 5, I'm taking Peru's Alex Olmedo winning Wimbledon in 1959. That moment certainly influenced the Andean kids to play and it's been a rare year since then that we haven't had at least one man from Peru in the Top 100.
At No. 6, I'd take the very existence of Ecuador's Pancho Segura as a huge personality and a super player. We've had a number of very good Ecuadorians' since then, including my choice at No. 7, Andre Gomez, who won Roland Garros in 1990. Then I'd take MJ and Gigi going back to back at the Olympics at No. 8, then I would tab Massu and Gonzalez ( mostly because there was a huge parade held in the honor) at No. 9, and at No. 10, I'd go with Gaston Gaudio winning RG last year.
With all that said, a couple things stick in my craw: even though MJ says that the Olympics were her highlight, I can't help but thinking that for fans, her reaching the Aussie and French Open finals were bigger. In Gigi's case, I'd take her 14 Slam titles with Natasha Zvereva, too, over the gold.
And where are the US Latina players these days? MJ says she doesn't know of any, but there are a few battling on the satellites, including NorCal's Christina Fusano, who played at Cal. Puerto Rico's Kristina Brandi is still hacking it out on the Challenger level, too.
MJ also says that more girls in Spain ask her about what it was like to become a pro than girls in the US do. Of course, the Floridian spends half her year in Cleveland, which isn't exactly a bastion of Latina culture, but she's spent a huge amount of time in Florida and you would think that will all the tennis be played there that someone would ask for a piece of advice.
There's one other issue worth taking on: Why not have called the list a "Latino" one instead of Hispanic, when you could have included Brazil (which was colonized by Portugal). Then you could have included seven-time singles Slammer Maria Bueno, the greatest women's player in Latin American history, as well as Guga Kuerten, a phenomenon all by himself. Those two would have my made my Top 5.
[As an aside, I also do not want to be barraged by e-mails saying that you cannot call folks of Portuguese descent "Latinos." You can if you define the word Latino as someone who hails from an area where the native language has Latin roots and, since Portuguese does, I'm going with that one.]