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View Full Version : comparing evert, austin and connolly teenage years...


laschutz
Mar 8th, 2012, 11:02 PM
comparing evert, austin and connolly teenage years.. since all 3 were seen as true phenoms with connolly being the first ( okay, maybe lenglen and wills were teenage phenoms too, but i digress)...

is there anyone on this board who actually saw connolly play in person? it seems that all or most of us all just have youtube.com videos to judge connolly's style, tactics, and play...

in a comparison between teenage connolly, teenage evert and teenage austin what is true?

for example: who hit the hardest

who was the fastest on court?

who had the most variety and better tactician?

who had the most endurance?

etcetera... it would seem that from everything i've always read and seen that in regards to hitting the ball the hardest that it would be connnolly at #1, austin #2 and evert #3.. ( now reminder this is only a teenage evert.. we all know of course connolly retired at 20 and basically austin did too around this age)....connolly from what i have read and the few points i have seen of her play seem to always be talked up as "mythic" in how she hammered the ball..don't know sometimes from what i have seen of connolly on videos she does indeed really nail the ball from both sides, sometimes breathtakingly so.. but then i've seen points of her play and she looks like she is just patty caking the ball back? austin really could take the ball on the rise and hammer it too when she was "on" and feeding on pace from her opponent..

fastest on court? hmm, once again it would seem connolly was number #1.. austin was a scrapper and ran like a jackrabbit but her poor and inefficient footwork actually hurt her... evert would never win a footrace especially as a teenager, but her awesome fluent footwork and her sense of anticipation even as a teenager was unmatched... so evert as a teenager wasn't fast, but was quick if that makes sense ( of course the adult full potential evert would be both)...

most endurance? that's a tough one.. never saw evert get tired or lose a match because of it even as a teenager... connolly rarely had to even play long, long matches.. i think in this aspect, austin would come in last?

variety and tactician: gotta go with evert as number #1 in this regard, as a teenager and a woman she had no peers perhaps in the entire history of tennis in regards to being a tactician ( king would be a rival in that department, but they played different styles of course)... connolly didn't have to be a tactician in her day, it seems she just blowed people off the court... austin i don't think ever got the chance to fully reach the mentality and experience to become a great tactician.. of course don't know if she had it in her, one of those great "what ifs" in regard to austin....

variety the other component of this question: well, all 3 didn't use much variety as teenagers, but i guess i would have to pick evert in this regard, she didn't outhit and blow people off the court like a connolly did or a austin when she was "on"...so i guess evert with her use of dropshots and lobs and angles and what not and use of her sidespin forehand and what not would have the edge in variety like she does in tactics...

laschutz
Mar 10th, 2012, 02:32 PM
geez, guys not a single reply and almost 80 views? laugh! c'mon all your great tennis history buff on this site, chime in okay.. from one long time senior member to another/others! have a great weekend everyone!

Rollo
Mar 10th, 2012, 05:35 PM
Don't die of shock but I actually agree with about everything.

One thing that makes it hard to compare are the backhands. Had Mo grown up in a later era she almost certainly would have hit it two-handed. From the vidoe available she could really come over the ball at times.

I guess another variant is how successful they were. Maureen kicked in the door in late 1951 and stormed right through. Was it because she was that much better-or was a combination of an aging set of foes? Timing is critical.

There is no gainsaying Connolly's greatness. She would have won multiple slams no matter what the circumstances. I've always thought she had a bit of good luck in 1953 though-good timing if you will, a lot like Margaret Court did in 1970 and Grad did in 1988 in winning their slams.

The connections between Evert and Austin are almost eerie. Both had to fight their way to the top eras crowded with talent. Chris had Court and King as the vets, with Goolagong as a contemporary foe. For Tracy it was Chris and Martina as the vets (throw Goolagong in too for 1980).

Mandlikova would have been a interesting foe for Austin.

Who knows how a healthy Austin would have done after 1981? Chris and Matina's records speak for themselves. What I do know, following tennis in 1981, was that everyone thought Austin would or could dominate much like Evert had done in the mid 70s. Tracy was feared that much.

Chris never got enough credit IMO for her athleticism and speed. She's never off balance. And while she rarely looked like a speed demon out there; when she HAd to get to a ball she often did.

And as you noted Laschutz-she never seemed to tire. Chrissie was tough as nails when she had to be.

gabybackhand
Mar 10th, 2012, 06:10 PM
Fabulous post from you both! I love to learn about tennis greats, sadly I've nothing to add to this comparison, I'm much too young for that :o

laschutz
Mar 11th, 2012, 04:13 PM
thanks for the comments so far..

mandlikova vs austin.. similar to a evert vs goolagong match-up..

in austin's last full year 1982 mandlikova would beat austin in 3 sets at the french and at the u.s. open... then mandlikova got blown away by evert easily in the same tournaments... right there you know that austin in 1982 was a step below her best form in 1980/81.... however, hana was playing awesome in 1980 to 82 as well.. so i don't think we can FULLY blame it on austin's decline in play.. even at her best austin would have a tough time with mandlikova...

i do think i have to disagree a bit on the idea and thought at the time that the players thought austin would dominate... i think this was true from about 1979 to about 1980 perhaps early 1981...(even evert before winning their dramatic 1980 u.s. open semi showdown thought that tracy would dominate for the next 10 years because "she was that good").... the fact being that she was at the top or near the top and because of her young age...

however, i think even before her decline and subsequent injuries and eventual retirement that.. a shift had changed in the minds of the players... at her very best austin was indeed a tough customer... hit the ball the hardest from the baseline and extremely competitive (think a pre-seles) and quick around the court and never say die attitude and yes her age and fearless.. but also i think doubts were also creeping it that while all the above was true, equally true and "found out" about austin and her game was that she was very 1-dimensional.. didn't have a plan "b" if she was "off"... and her weakness to "goolagong" like tactics was becoming more and more evident...

in 1982 and midway thru 1983... while she was playing sporadically.. and her results were very mixed.. the losses in quarters in majors to mandlikova, losses to turnbull, tesmevari, etcetera.... all who used variety to deal with austin.. i think the "awe" was starting to erode in the aura of austin and her game... will never know how much of these "bad" losses were due to her not playing that much, how much she was truly 100 % fit, how much due to the other players, and them knowing or at least believing that austin was beatable and believing in themselves, etcetera.. i mean what %percentage was what....

but i digresss, i don't want this topic thread to turn into a 'what if" austin thread again...i wonder if anyone has ever seen connolly play in person and their thoughts...

of course, alot of times when people whether amateur historians or the so called "true tennis historians" reminesce about former greats their judgements and hyperbole and what not cloud their minds and cloud the facts and their judgements....

PamShriver
Mar 11th, 2012, 04:51 PM
thanks for the comments so far..

mandlikova vs austin.. similar to a evert vs goolagong match-up..

in austin's last full year 1982 mandlikova would beat austin in 3 sets at the french and at the u.s. open... then mandlikova got blown away by evert easily in the same tournaments... right there you know that austin in 1982 was a step below her best form in 1980/81.... however, hana was playing awesome in 1980 to 82 as well.. so i don't think we can FULLY blame it on austin's decline in play.. even at her best austin would have a tough time with mandlikova...

i do think i have to disagree a bit on the idea and thought at the time that the players thought austin would dominate... i think this was true from about 1979 to about 1980 perhaps early 1981...(even evert before winning their dramatic 1980 u.s. open semi showdown thought that tracy would dominate for the next 10 years because "she was that good").... the fact being that she was at the top or near the top and because of her young age...

however, i think even before her decline and subsequent injuries and eventual retirement that.. a shift had changed in the minds of the players... at her very best austin was indeed a tough customer... hit the ball the hardest from the baseline and extremely competitive (think a pre-seles) and quick around the court and never say die attitude and yes her age and fearless.. but also i think doubts were also creeping it that while all the above was true, equally true and "found out" about austin and her game was that she was very 1-dimensional.. didn't have a plan "b" if she was "off"... and her weakness to "goolagong" like tactics was becoming more and more evident...

in 1982 and midway thru 1983... while she was playing sporadically.. and her results were very mixed.. the losses in quarters in majors to mandlikova, losses to turnbull, tesmevari, etcetera.... all who used variety to deal with austin.. i think the "awe" was starting to erode in the aura of austin and her game... will never know how much of these "bad" losses were due to her not playing that much, how much she was truly 100 % fit, how much due to the other players, and them knowing or at least believing that austin was beatable and believing in themselves, etcetera.. i mean what %percentage was what.

but i digresss, i don't want this topic thread to turn into a 'what if" austin thread again...i wonder if anyone has ever seen connolly play in person and their thoughts...

of course, alot of times when people whether amateur historians or the so called "true tennis historians" reminesce about former greats their judgements and hyperbole and what not cloud their minds and cloud the facts and their judgements....
I have similar questions about Austin as well. It is curious to me that Austin essentially played a full schedule in '82 and for the first part of '83 and yet managed to take only one title and never got past the quarters of a Grand Slam. Of course part of it was being unable to practice as much, but I think part of it was that Austin's game, because of her lack of variety and flexability was much more reliant on momentum and confidence than Evert. Evert's lack of confidence was usually only in relation to a particular player at a particular time (Austin '79-80, Nav '83-84, Graf '87-89) but she still had no difficulty defeating 99.9% of the tour 99.9% of the time, because she had a lot more artillery at her disposal (and a much better tactical mind). I think the '80 Wimbledon semi against Cawley offered a primer on how to defeat Tracy and many took a page from it.
Certainly Austin is not the only player this has happened with, Sharapova has gone through a similar experience when returning from her shoulder problems on '08 and even now still struggles. Same thing happened to Rinaldi after hurting her hand in '87. For so many players success on the tour is about confidence and momentum and when those things are taken away and they are exposed it can prove to be the death knell to their careers. I've often speculated that Austin's departure from the game in early '84 after losing to Pam Casale had more to do with not wanting to continually damage her reputation with losses to players like Pam Casale than it had to do with actual injury.

gabybackhand
Mar 11th, 2012, 05:35 PM
Could she have had such a big ego? And not the right kind in my book. I ask because I don't know much about those times, especially about Austin as she was a player to (I've mentioned this before) whom I could never warm up, I don't know why, I happened to have never seen her play for instance, and just her name was not appealing to me, quite the opposite. Unfair I know, but still...