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Drysdale, Pasarell, Tiriac Inducted Into Hall Of Fame

Newport, U.S.A.

Tiriac, Hingis, Pasarell, Drysdale© Kate Whitney LuceyThe International Tennis Hall of Fame welcomes its Class of 2013: Ion Tiriac, Martina Hingis, Charlie Pasarell and Cliff Drysdale.

Former ATP World Tour players Cliff Drysdale, Charlie Pasarell and Ion Tiriac were on Saturday inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame for their exceptional contribution to the sport of tennis.

"Were it not for the vision, dedication, and drive to grow the game that Cliff, Charlie and Ion have all shared, tennis would not be the established, high profile, exciting sport we all know and love today," said Christopher Clouser, chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. 

The 72-year-old Drysdale had a successful singles and doubles career, which included rising to a career-high Emirates ATP Ranking of No. 4 and capturing the 1972 US Open doubles title with partner Roger Taylor. He was also a founder and first President of the ATP World Tour. He served as the ATP's first president between 1972 and 1974, and has been an ESPN commentator since the network’s first tennis telecast - a Davis Cup tie between the United States and Argentina in 1979.

"It is a privilege and honour to be a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame," said Drysdale, who thanked members of his family and ESPN team including Patrick McEnroe. Drysdale joked that he used to think Pasarell's ideas around the formation of the ATP were nuts. "[The] fact is though that those ideas have translated into your great tournament that you created at Indian Wells, what was the Super Nine, and became The Masters 1000 now," he said.

The 69-year-old Pasarell was honoured for his transformation of an ATP World Tour event in the Coachella Valley into what is the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament which spans over a fortnight. Attendees have grown from 30,000 to more than 370,000 and one small stadium has morphed into a 24-court facility. Pasarell was the top U.S. player in 1967, and helped his country to their Davis Cup title a year later. In 1969, he partnered with Arthur Ashe and Sheridan Snyder and launched the National Junior Tennis League, which still encourages kids to stay in school and uses tennis a tool to teach life skills. 

"This induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame is indeed for me the ultimate honour and recognition that I can receive in the sport.  Just imagine to be included in this hall among so many legends and outstanding individuals such as Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King, Jack Kramer, Pancho Gonzales, Tony Trabert, Chris Evert, Stan Smith, Butch Buchholz, all the great Aussies, Rod Laver, Mal Anderson, John Newcombe, Tony Roche, Allan Stone, Ken Rosewall, Owen Davidson, and of course, my Davis Cup captain and great friend, Donald Dell.  It truly is a great honour and humbling experience," said Pasarell. 

The 74-year-old Tiriac, who played Davis Cup for Romania for 15 years and won the Roland Garros doubles crown in 1970 with Ilie Nastase, has managed players including Guillermo Vilas, Goran Ivanisevic and Boris Becker, who won five majors with Tiriac on his team. The Romanian was also tournament director for a handful of events including two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments, now known as the Internazionali BNL d'Italia and the Mutua Madrid Open.

"Once you finish, [there] always is going to be somebody who is jumping higher, and running faster or [can] hit the ball harder," reflected Tiriac. "If I look over my shoulder, I promise I don't regret one thing with my life, being a tennis player, a coach, a manager, a promoter, the way it was," he said.

Also inducted was former women’s World No. 1 and five-time major winner Martina Hingis and Australia’s Thelma Coyne Long. Hall of Famer Rod Laver accepted the 94-year-old Long’s award, on her behalf.  

Since 1955, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has to date honoured 234 people from 11 nations.

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