Ralston Named Tournament Honoree for 2006 Countrywide Classic

July 5, 2006 11:37 AM

Bakersfield native and USC star won Wimbledon doubles at age 17 in 1960

Dennis Ralston© International Tennis Hall of Fame
LOS ANGELES – Dennis Ralston, a Bakersfield native and USC alum whose career included winning the 1965 Los Angeles title over Arthur Ashe and the rare double of winning the Davis Cup as both a player and captain, will be the tournament honoree for the 80th annual Countrywide Classic, July 24-30, at the Los Angeles Tennis Center-UCLA.

“Dennis is one of the finest players ever produced in Southern California,” said Tournament Director Bob Kramer, “and he performed brilliantly on the national and international tennis stage. We are delighted to be able to recognize his achievements as our 2006 Countrywide Classic tournament honoree.”

Previous honorees were: 1985-Ellsworth Vines, Alice Marble; 1986-Don Budge; 1987-Fred Perry; 1988-Bobby Riggs; 1989-Frank Parker; 1990-Jack Kramer; 1991-Ted Schroeder; 1992-Pancho Gonzalez; 1993-Arthur Ashe; 1994-Vic Seixas; 1995-Tony Trabert; 1996-Stefan Edberg; 1997-Pancho Segura, Dodo Cheney; 1998-Boris Becker; 1999-Rod Laver; 2000-Alex Olmedo; 2001-All Champions, 75th anniversary; 2002-Allen Fox, Louise Brough; 2003-Michael Chang; 2004- Frank Sedgman; 2005- Barry MacKay.

Players already committed to the 2006 Countrywide Classic include four-time tournament champion and eight-time Grand Slam winner Andre Agassi, the record-setting Southern California doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan, Taylor Dent, Mardy Fish, Robby Ginepri, Argentina’s David Nalbandian, former World No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, Croatian Davis Cup stars Ivan Ljubicic and Mario Ancic, and Chilean Davis Cupper Fernando Gonzalez.

Ralston, who celebrates his 64th birthday on July 27, was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987. He won five Grand Slam doubles titles, including the U.S. Championships three times. He was 17 when he and USC teammate Rafael Osuna won the Wimbledon doubles title in 1960. He was the first of three men to win U.S. doubles titles on four surfaces (grass, clay, indoor and hardcourt), later joined by Stan Smith and Bob Lutz. Ralston was a Wimbledon singles finalist in 1966. He was the first to be ranked No. 1 in the U.S. for three consecutive years (1963-65) since Don Budge (1936-38). He won the Los Angeles tournament singles title in 1965, defeating Arthur Ashe in the final. He played Davis Cup from 1960-66, helping the U.S. to win the Cup in 1963 against Australia, and served as team captain from 1972-75, guiding the U.S. to victory over Romania in 1972. He and his father, Bob, won the U.S. Father and Son title in 1964. He is the only player ever to win back-to-back NCAA singles and doubles titles for USC in 1963-64 during a stretch when the Trojans won three consecutive titles. After his playing career, Ralston served as coach at Southern Methodist University and tennis director at Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Countrywide Classic will feature a 32-player singles draw and a 16-team doubles competition. The landmark Southern California ATP tournament is the longest running annual professional sporting event in Los Angeles, and offers total player compensation in excess of $1 million.

With 64 tournaments in 31 countries, the ATP showcases the finest athletes competing in the world’s most exciting venues.

For the third consecutive year, the Countrywide Classic will also be a part of the U.S. Open Series, the eight-week summer tennis season linking 10 major ATP and WTA Tour tournaments to the U.S. Open. Television viewership for the 2005 U.S. Open Series generated significant increases, attracting more than 40 million viewers.

Previous winners of the Countrywide Classic, whose history dates to 1927, include Agassi, Michael Chang, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Michael Stich, Boris Becker, Richard Krajicek, Stefan Edberg, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Stan Smith, Arthur Ashe, Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Pancho Gonzalez, Jack Kramer, Bobby Riggs, Don Budge, Ellsworth Vines, Fred Perry and Bill Tilden. Agassi became a four-time winner of the event last year.

Proceeds from the Countrywide Classic, held in conjunction with UCLA, benefit the grassroots programs of the non-profit Southern California Tennis Association (SCTA) and UCLA. The SCTA offers programs, leagues, and tournaments involving 300,000 juniors and 50,000 adults and seniors. Inquiries regarding tickets and information may be directed to the Countrywide Classic tournament office on the UCLA campus. For information, please call 310-824-1010 or visit www.countrywideclassic.com.

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