INDIAN WELLS – The Love and Love Tennis Foundation and the Pancho Foundation will host the inaugural Rosie Casals & Pancho Gonzalez Kids Tennis Fiesta on Sept. 29 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for National Hispanic Heritage Month.
The event will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and the 50th Anniversary of the National Junior Tennis League, a grassroots program that introduces kids to tennis. The NJTL was founded by Arthur Ashe, Sheridan Snyder and Charlie Pasarell in 1968. Pasarell will be honored that evening at the Fiesta Cocktail Reception on Sept. 29 at Vicky’s of Santa Fe Restaurant for his numerous accomplishments in promoting tennis in the Coachella Valley.
Pasarell was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2013 for his work in building the BNP Paribas Open into one of the five biggest tennis events in the world. Pasarell is a native of Puerto Rico, according to a news release.
The festivities will include a clinic for kids from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, 78-200 Miles Avenue. About 120 kids will be bussed from the Coachella Valley Unified School District/ ASES Program to participate in the clinics and festivities.
The Fiesta Cocktail Reception at Vicky’s of Santa Fe, 45-100 Club Drive, in Indian Wells is from 6-7:30 p.m. with special presentations by the Love & Love Tennis Foundation, Pancho Foundation and Multicultural Tennis Association/Youth Ambassador Program.
Casals, one of the founders of LLTF with Tour Player Tory Fretz, is a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and one of the Original Nine women who fought for equality in the 1970’s alongside of long-time friend and doubles partner Billie Jean King. She was also responsible in helping start the professional women’s tennis tour (Virginia Slims) in 1971 and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) in 1973. A Palm Desert resident, Casals is of Salvadorian decent. Casals has won 112 doubles titles, second only to Martina Navratilova. Casals’ tennis career spans more than three decades, which started in the early 1960s. Together with King, they captured five Wimbledon doubles titles that helped earn Casals 12 Grand Slam doubles titles and No. 1 ranking in doubles for most of the mid 1960s and 1970s. Casals also called King’s legendary Battle of the Sexes match against Bobby Riggs, working the broadcast booth with Howard Cosell. In the 2017 movie, “Battle of the Sexes,” starring Oscar-winner Emma Stone, Casals was portrayed by actress Natalie Morales.
Pancho Gonzalez, who was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1968, mostly played as a professional during one of the golden ages of tennis, when the sport was still amateur. Gonzalez finally was allowed to play at Wimbledon in 1968 when Wimbledon opened the Championships to both amateurs and professionals known as the beginning of the “Open Era.” Famed tennis writer Bud Collins once wrote, “If I had to choose someone to play for my life, it would be Pancho Gonzalez.” One of Gonzalez’s most memorable matches was beating Pasarell at Wimbledon in a match that went 5 hours, 12 minutes in 1968. It was the longest match in Wimbledon history until 2010 when John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played a match that lasted three days.
The Love & Love Tennis Foundation was established in 2015 by Hall of Fame tennis legend Rosie Casals and WTA Tour Professional Tory Fretz to advance junior tennis participation in the Coachella Valley and to give financial aid to junior grass root programs. LLTF has worked with the National Junior Tennis League (NJTL), Boys & Girls Clubs, Coachella Valley Housing Coalition (CVHC), A.S.E.S. (After School Education and Safety enrichment programs), Andy Scorteanu Tennis Academy (ASTA) and others in expanding youth tennis in the desert. LLTF helps kids get involved in tennis programs, regardless of their ethnic or economic backgrounds.
LLTF has launched the free Kids Love Tennis Clinics with Boys & Girls Clubs in the desert for kids 6-13 years old. The Clinics are sponsored by tennis icon Billie Jean King, Barbara and Gary Tolman, USTA/SCTA, NJTL and LLTF. Casals, Fretz and their partners are passionate about bringing tennis to as many kids as possible. As they say, “Tennis is for everyone!”
- Indian Wells Tennis Garden: Shutterstock