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Former Notre Dame Men' Tennis Captain Wins 1999 Rolex Achievement Award

Sept. 9, 1999

PRINCETON, N.J. — Governor Pedro Rossell?, captain of the Notre Dame 1966 men?s tennis team and current governor of Puerto Rico, has been named one of two winners of the 1999 Rolex Achievement Awards and will be honored at a special ceremony held during the Rolex Reception for the U.S. Open Friday evening at the ’21’ Club in New York City. Rossell? graduated from Notre Dame in 1966 and captained the ?66 squad that remains the last Irish men?s tennis team to complete an undefeated season at 15-0. Former Swathmore tennis player Christine Grant, who currently serves as Commissioner of Health and Senior Services for the State of New Jersey, is the other recipient of the award.

Rossell? and Grant will be presented their awards by Stan Smith, a former NCAA singles and doubles champion at the University of Southern California who went on to win 39 professional singles titles including Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Both winners will receive a distinctive Rolex timepiece, a framed, calligraphic certificate and reserved seats at Saturday?s U.S. Open women’s final and men’s semifinals. In addition, the Rolex Achievement Award winners’ alma maters’ collegiate tennis programs each receive a $2,500 donation from Rolex Watch, U.S.A. The Rolex Achievement Awards were created in 1994 by Rolex Watch, U.S.A., and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) to pay tribute to past participants in the world of collegiate tennis who have achieved excellence in their chosen careers. The man and woman honored annually by Rolex and the ITA as the Rolex Achievement Award winners are honored for both their professional successes and their contributions to society.

Rossell? has been governor of Puerto Rico since 1993 and was reelected in ’96. Since taking office he has initiated health-care reform to make private health insurance accessible to the entire population of Puerto Rico, cut income taxes by 20 percent and has seen both unemployment and the crime rate plummet to their lowest level in decades. Rossell? played No. 1 singles for legendary Irish coach Tom Fallon and received the 1966 Byron V. Kanaley Award, the most prestigious honor awarded to a Notre Dame senior monogram winner who has been exemplary both as students and leaders.

?When Pedro came to Notre Dame he was not only an excellent player but a brilliant student,? said Fallon, who won over 500 matches while coaching the Irish for 31 years from 1957-87. ?He is one of the great players we had at Notre Dame and someone we think very highly of. This is a very fitting and deserving award.?

“The lessons learned on the court over a period of four years are a vital companion to the academic lessons of higher education,” said David A Benjamin, ITA Executive Director. “The winners of the Rolex Achievement Awards are individuals who benefited from the experience of intercollegiate competition, went on to greater accomplishments, and generously shared their good fortune with others around them.”

?Governor Rossell? was incredibly kind to us when our team made a trip to Puerto Rico in 1996,? said current Irish head coach Bob Bayliss. ?He went out of his way to arrange for us a tour of the Governor?s Mansion, La Fortaleza, which was not at all expected considering his busy schedule.?

The Rolex Achievement Award winners are nominated by their past tennis coaches – or by the current coaches of their alma maters’ tennis program. From the hundreds of nominees, 12 finalists are selected by the ITA. The men’s and women’s winners are then determined by the Rolex Achievement Awards Selection Panel. The members of the selection panel are: David A Benjamin, ITA Executive Director, Dr. Henry Bienen, President of Northwestern University, Chris Evert, former tennis champion and President of Chris Evert Enterprises, Walter Fischer, President and CEO of Rolex Watch, U.S.A., Gene Scott, Publisher and Editor-In-Chief of Tennis Week, Stan Smith, former tennis champion and Special Advisor/Coach of the USTA Player Development Program, Lester Snyder, past president of the USTA, William Sullivan, Senior Vice President and Director of Advertising for Rolex Watch, U.S.A., and Mark Woodruff, Editor of TENNIS magazine.