The California native was a top 10 player for five years, but made his most significant contributions as a coach and mentor. Tennis lost one of its greatest treasures last week. A legend on the court as a player, but perhaps even more notably as a teacher. Dennis Ralston, who was 78, passed away after a battle with cancer.

Ralston was still in his prime when he became a coach for the US Davis Cup team, alongside Donald Dell. He was 25, and a second noteworthy career had begun.

Ralston, who was coached by Pancho Gonzalez as a youth, would go on to reach the Wimbledon final in 1966, and turn pro the following year.

“Dennis Ralston lived his whole life in tennis. He was a terrific champion, but he contributed to every part of the sport really, and with a real passion for it. To me, he was a fellow USC Trojan, my coach, my captain, and a great friend. I, along with so many in the tennis world, will greatly miss his friendship and kindness,” said International Tennis Hall of Fame President Stan Smith of Ralston's passing.

Ralston won five Grand Slam doubles titles (his first at age 17) and played three finals in mixed, and he continued to strengthen his Hall of Fame Résumé as a coach, by leading the US Davis Cup team to the title as the captain in 1972 and also as the coach to Chris Evert, for six years, as well as Yannick Noah and Gabriela Sabatini.

"It's a sad day as my former coach of six years, Dennis Ralston, has passed away,” Evert posted on Twitter. “A deeply religious man, a devoted family man, and a superb player and coach. He will be missed. RIP Dennis.”

Ralston was one of the “Handsome Eight” who signed to be part of the fledgling WCT tour in 1967, along with fellow legends John Newcombe, Tony Roche, Cliff Drysdale, Earl Buchholtz, Niki Pilic, Roger Taylor and Pierre Barthes.”

He continued to coach for the remainder of his days. He coached for two decades at Southern Methodist University and spent the last decade at the Grey Rock Tennis Club in Austin, Texas.

Source: Tennis – Tennis Now