The Australian Open, held annually at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, has witnessed the triumphs of many ITA Hall of Famers including Alex Olmedo and Dorothy Cheney.
Born in Peru in 1936, Alex Olmedo came to the United States in 1954 and two years later, began his great Southern Cal career under coach George Toley. While at USC, Olmedo won the singles and doubles NCAA titles in 1956 and ‘58. Playing for the US Davis Cup team in 1958, Olmedo led the Americans to the title, winning both of his singles matches and teaming with Ham Richardson in doubles to beat Australia in the final. The duo teamed up again later that same year to win the US Championships, now the US Open, at Forest Hills.
The following year in 1959, Olmedo rose to No. 2 in the world, winning both the Australian and Wimbledon singles titles. At the Australian, Olmedo defeated Australia’s Neale Fraser 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to claim the title. By the end of his professional career, Olmedo won 21 titles and had a career singles record of 401-358.
After retiring from tennis in 1965, Olmedo became the teaching pro at the Beverly Hills Hotel where he worked with stars like Katharine Hepburn, Robert Duvall and Chevy Chase. Olmedo was inducted into the ITA Men’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame in 1983 and to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.
Much like Olmedo, Dorothy Cheney found success down under at the Australian Open. The daughter of tennis pioneer May Sutton, Cheney learned the game of tennis from her Aunt Florence, adopting her mother’s famous Western forehand. In 1936, Cheney broke into the USLTA, now the USTA, Top 10 and two years later became the first American woman to win the Australian singles title. In the 1938 Australian Championship final, now known as the Australian Open, Cheney defeated Australia’s Dorothy Stevensen in a straight set 6-3, 6-2 victory.
Cheney entered Rollins College while continuing to compete and find success nationally, taking the US Clay Court singles title in 1944. Rejoining the international circuit following World War II, Cheney reached the mixed doubles finals at Wimbledon and the French Open in 1946. In 1957, Cheney began competing at the senior level, launching a record-setting winning streak.
Cheney was inducted into the ITA Women’s Hall of Fame in 1998 and to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2004.
About the ITA Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame – The Intercollegiate Tennis Association Men’s and Women’s Halls of Fame aspire to preserve and celebrate the history and further the development of intercollegiate tennis through the collection of historic memorabilia and with inductions of notable players, coaches, and contributors.
About the ITA – The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) is the governing body and coaches association of college tennis, both an advocate and an authority for the sport and its members. Comprised of 1,260 colleges and universities, 20,000 student-athletes, 1,700 varsity programs, 3,000 coaches, and 1,350 college tennis officials, the ITA empowers college tennis coaches at all levels to deliver vibrant tennis programs that are vital to their college communities and transformational to their student-athletes. Follow the 2023-24 college tennis season on the ITA website and ITA social channels on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube.