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Old Sep 14th, 2002, 09:17 AM   #16
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In Asia on her world tour of 1956. My guess is this is in India. Note how BOTH women are near the net, typical for this era.


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Old Oct 13th, 2002, 08:59 AM   #17
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Hart vs. Connolly

Hi Rollo,

I posted a vague reference to the 1951 US Nat Semi Hart vs. Mo in the 40's thread, and remembering your request to try and keep postings in the relevant chronological thread, following is from "Tennis With Hart".

"In the semifinal I came up against a fairly new name in the tennis world. Maureen Connolly, the junior champion from California. I had played Maureen on a few occasions and won these matches without too much difficulty. I knew that Maureen was a player of outstanding ability and thought that one day she would be a great champion. But I honestly felt that she was not ready to win over a seasoned player. Not just yet. But I was wrong.

Due to extra long matches scheduled before our encounter in the stadium court, our match did not get underway until five-thirty, and then the weather was very cloudy and overcast, with rain clouds in the distance. Actually, the match should never have been started, as it was quite obvious that no matter how well either one of us played, it would be impossible to complete the match before the skies opened up. But the committee instructed us to get the match underway. I am not trying to produce an alibi for what followed, but the conditions that prevailed were definitely not in my favour...I ran up a 4-0 lead quickly and felt that I could win this match if I just kep the pressure up on this Junior player. At 4-1 the rain started to drop, not hard, but a soft, drizzly fall which was most annoying. I glanced towards the Umpire, waiting for him to stop play until the rain ceased. But he gave no indication that he was going to halt the match. I should have proceeded to the net and told him that I was not going to proceed under the conditions, but I didn't....It all happened quickly. I lost six games in a row and, of course, the set 6-4. Then the tournament officials came on court and said that the match would have to postponed until tomorrow! Maybe I should have spoken to the umpire at the crucial stage of the match, but I was the Number 1 seeded player of the tournament, playing against a young Junior who was definitely in the public's favour, and you can imagine the result had I made a protest against continuing the match!"

Well, methinks - who cares what the "result" would have been! However, at the end of the day, Miss Hart committed the cardinal matchplay sin of not maintaining focus and to lose a set against a junior (albeit talented) player, a baseliner, on WET GRASS to boot, from 4-1 up!!!!

And following is Mo's account from "Forehand Drive"

"On the courts a drizzle began to fall. I charged wildly for everything, totally oblivous to the footing, consumed with hate and fiery determination. I won six straight games for the set!...The sting went out of Doris's game when the drizzle started. I stood ready to continue the match in a downpour, but the officials postponed it until the next day".

At which time, as we all know, Connolly still had a full head of steam thanks to Teach Tennant and she duly posted the upset.

Your thoughts?

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Old Oct 13th, 2002, 09:50 AM   #18
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Little Mo

Hi All,

Following are a few bits from "Forehand Drive" which give an insight into the insecurity that drove her to be a Champion, an insecurity fueled by the combatative Teach Tennant....

On her first Wimbledon...

"I had managed to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon. I got there on a path paved by my opponents' errors, certainly not by my dazzling tennis. Across the court stood Susan Partridge, a beautiful English girl, a fine player. I hated her. It was a cold, controlled hate, part of my strategy. The fear of losing - always before handmaiden to my hate - was lacking. Eleanor Tennant belived I should beat her love and love....In the second set Susan suddenly switched strategy. She softballed me from the very start and I returned one high lob after another. With this overhead action, the needle pains of fibrositis jabbed my shoulder cruelly. A beautiful retriever, she ran down my best and hardest placements, making a series of impossible returns. My confidence cracked. Hate and rising fear were not enough. I started serving double faults. The crowd cheered each one. This was an even more searing pain than fibrositis. In America the gallery cheered for me, but here there seemed only hostility...I lost the seond set 7-5. The score does not reflect the mastery Susan held. As we changed courts, she was in complete command, walking easily and gracefully to the umpire's chair. With tennis players, there are little things, mannerisms, how one stands, even the way one may towell-off after a set that reflect confidence. I stopped, crouched on my haunches, my head bowed on my racket, trying to capture a moment's rest. The contrast between us was striking. I was spiritually bankrupt, physically exhausted, so weary I wondered how long I could go on.

Just as we started the third set, Susan looked across the court, her eyes meeting mine, locking for a moment, and I can remember even now that flash of confidence. She served. The rout began. After she won her service, I felt as if I were on the way out, defeat certain, discredited, unpopular, measured and found wanting."

Well, we all know that didn't come to pass...

And (for Rollo, just because), here Mo describes meeting her idol, Helen Wills....

"I was twelve years old and playing in the 15-and-under age division in the Pacific Southweat Championships when my coach, Teach Tennant, told me she had asked Helen to watch me play and get her opinion of my game. I was mid-way through the first set when I glanced towards the sidelines and saw Helen and Teach standing together by a tall pillar watching me.

Instead of becoming nervous, my game caught fire. I played with flaming resolve, anxious to show Helen the best I had, eager to win her approval. I raced to victory in straight sets, could hardly wait to shake hands with my opponent before dashing over the Helen and Teach.

I had heard of course, that Helen was reserved, a cool person. I found her warm, gracious and charming without trace of aloofness. 'What do you think of Maureen's game?' Teach, as always direct, shot the question almost before the introductions were over.

'Maureen will become national champion in four years, and possibly the world's champion', Helen answered. I was overwhelmed. Helen's predicition [spot on!] was calm, casual, almost as if she had looked into the future in some mysterious fashion and knew, with quiet certainty, exactly what lay ahead".

It seems Helen had a soft spot for Mo, and I can just imagine Ms Wills, who always enjoyed using her racquet as a knife, casting a discrete but approving eye over proceedings during her visits to the Beverley Hill Tennis Club in the late 40s as Mo continued to rip into the other little girls with "flaming resolve"...

Your thoughts?
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Old Oct 15th, 2002, 01:39 AM   #19
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My thoughts? I just want to gobble up everything you post Rboi. Words cannot express my curiosity to get ahold of Mo's book now! She either was a darn good writer or (more likely) had a great ghost writer. "Flaming resolve"-LOL.

What's your take on Helen's-how shall we call it, generosity towards Mo? I've a few theories, but none I can prove. After Helen most of the women stars were serve and volleyers(Marble, Brough, duPont) or at least somewhat comfortable at net like Betz. Perhaps Helen saw Mo and thought-"aha, this girl will be compared to me and prove that my baseline style could still win." Connolly naturally got a lot of comparisons to Wills, just as Evert would later be compared to Mo. Surely Wills must have loved the comparisons if they kept her name in the spotlight.

Of course Wills may also have just seen the hunger all over Connolly's face and admired a kindred spirit. That burning will to win can't be taught IMO, even if Teach did sharpen it by lying about Doris. What exactly did Teach say about Hart? Surely Maureen was told that Doris was making fun of her behind her back (a total lie on Teach's part), but did she go further?

I wish I also knew if Mo knew or cared that Teach was a lesbian. Was this common knowledge on the circuit? One suspects in the Hollywood circle where Teach was a party favorite it wasn't a secret at all and added to her allure, but was the tennis world of the 1930s to 50s so broad minded?

Teach was a hell of a coach. To guide BOTH Marble and Connolly to fame(not to mention Bobby Riggs), and have both turn their backs on her must have been a bitter pill to swallow. If I could go back in time I'd rather meet her than most stars. Imagine all the stories she could tell about Hollywood stars from Chaplin to Clarke Gable. She had a wonderfully bitchy tongue by all accounts which found many a target.

Have you read the bio about Teach Rboi? I didn't know there was one until your post got me curious about her.

I was amazed by the fact that Maureen was naturally right handed and Teach forced her to switch because there had never been a dominant left handed woman. Imagine the possibilities with her lefty serve!
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Old Oct 15th, 2002, 01:53 AM   #20
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As short as she was (and a bit pudgy like Kim Clijsters with her baby fat) comparing Mo to a Williams sister may not be totally apt, but there are points of comparison. She hit every ball as hard as possible and forced her foes to do the running. Outhitting her was almost impossible. The only one to do this was glam girl Beverly Baker, who had two one handed forehands and hit as flat as a pancake. This was on cement early in 1954. Mo's real problem was going up against what Teach called "negative" tennis, softballers like
Sue Partridge(who never beat Mo but came awfully close with this tactic) and Shirley Fry. I believe Fry beat her once.

Now for the Williams comparison. The other two women to beat her( Hart and Brough) after 1951 used the "centering strategy", the same one Carillo said works sometimes vs. the sisters. The theory is it takes away angles from the hard hitter. Did anyone use this vs. Seles? How about in your own matches?
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Old Oct 16th, 2002, 02:50 AM   #21
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Mo Connolly

Hi Rollo,

Questions! Questions! Questions!

Yes, "Forehand Drive" is a great book, written by Mo herself, who reported on tennis for the print media after her on-court career ended. She writes very honestly about herself: her unhappy childhood, her personal insecurity and how, before the Hopmans took her under their wing, she was driven to succeed in tennis thinking that was the only way others would approve of her and she of herself.

"Strangely enough...I had no feeling of supreme confidence, not even when I was at the pinnacle of my game. I thought at times I was good; I had the knowledge my strokes were as perfect as I could make them, that I was in such superb physical condition I could run to the moon. Still, with all this, I could endow an opponent, even a first-round foe, with superhuman ability, building her game sky-high in my mind. This, I would tell myself, would be the moment when her game would blaze and I would be beaten. Undoubtedly, I attacked my weaker opponents on the court more ferociously than any other girl in the history of tennis. I 'carried' no one and this lack of confidence was the reason."

Laura Lou Jahn was mentioned in an earlier post. Mo lost to her in a junior tournament when she was 13 and was crushed by the experience and couldn't wait for their next match, which took place in the final of the US Junior Championship the next year...

"Across the court stood Laura Lou Jahn...picked by many as the most dazzling young star in tennis. A beautiful 16 year old...Laura Lou closely remembled Lana Turner. I hated her. She had beaten me at Coronado and I could still taste the bitterness of that defeat.

Laura Lou served. I broke her service and beat her in straight sets, taking exactly 42 minutes...She never had a chance. I had played this match a hundred times in my mind, and, although Teach Tennant had planned no special strategy, I took the court with total concentration...I defended my title against Laura Lou the next year and again I beat her. In all modesty, I do not believe Laura Lou could ever have beaten me, no after her Coronado triumph. That rankled for years."

Of course, all this negative energy in Mo was used to great effect by the Machiavellian Teach Tennant, who understood the impact of reserve psychology better than most, especially during the lead-up to the 51 US semi with Doris Hart....

"Here I was to meet the real champion, Doris Hart, the Wimbledon winner, the one girl in tennis whom I worshipped, who could do no wrong, and whom I wanted to emulate as person and player more than anyone else in the world. And it was here that Eleanor Tennant, certain I would be beaten, gambled boldly on devious strategy. Eleanor told Sophie Fisher [a mutual friend] that Doris, under the surface of her charm, disliked me intensely and had said: 'Maureen is a spoiled brat....I'm gunning for her...and I'm going to give her a tennis lesson'. This, of course, was a complete fabrication, and Sophie, who knew Doris, did not believe it. But she understood the motivation and knew Eleanor counted on her to tell me. For Sophie it was an extremely difficult position and hers was a hard decision to make. But she felt as Teach did that I could not beat Doris unless my hero-worship was broken. So, she told me.

No idol fell faster or with a more shattering crash than Doris Hart. I was shocked, stunned, then saw a blinding red. I phoned Teach immediately, but one galvanizing gambit wa not enough for Miss Tennant. She jolted me further by saying she was too busy to see me that evening, she couldn't car less about my prospects. She topped that off by telling me she was trying to get a reservation for a plane to Boston in the morning. I spent a storm-tossed night, but I phoned Eleanor the next morning and she agreed to see me. (The Boston trip, of course, had been as fictional as Doris's remarks.)

I hurried to see Teach, asked her if she would go with me to see Doris Hart and straighten things out. She flatly refused.
'Do you want Doris as a friend?' she asked
'Yes, I do'
'Do you want her respect?'
'Yes'
'There is only one way to get it. Go out and beat her this afternoon. If you do that...I will stay here and you can win the title'"

The rest, as they say, is history....

And Rollo, your reasoning behind the Wills-Mo bond was correct...

"When I met her again, I was 18 years old and had twice won the world's championship. We were in Perry Jones's office at the Los Angeles Tennis Club. Helen looked at me, smiled (!) and asked: 'Do you remember?' (How could I possibly forget!)
'But,' I lamented, 'I still have no net game'
'You don't need one', she countered. 'You can beat any net-rusher. You are the first girl, I think, since my day who has decent ground strokes.' (Believe me, I was overawed. My titles meant nothing. For me, THE CHAMPION was speaking).
'I believe,' Helen continued, 'I proved ground strokes could beat the best of the net-rushers, and you have proved it too'.

So Helen Wills probably did see a lot of herself in the young Mo: teen "killers"; doomsday groundstrokers; total competitors

And speaking of that rarest of rare things (Wills smiling), in Bud Collins' Encyclopedia of Tennis, there is a wonderful photo of Mo holding the silverware following the final of the 51 Southwest champs, flanked by May Sutton Bundy (who must have been 70'ish at the time and who still looked like she could have done 15 rounds with Jack Dempsey followed by a few sets as a cool down) and Wills, who is looking at Mo and with a lovely smile on her dial. A very cool photo.

Finally, I think Mo had more problems with slow, high balls (a la Shirley Fry) and only for a little while because from the end of 1952 she just had it all over everyone. Most "power" players prefer pace, so slow, high balls down the middle of the court can disrupt their rythym and maintaining one's patience/focus and footwork is paramount whilst working towards/waiting for a chance to open up the court. One of the best examples of this strategy in recent times was Davenport vs. Serena Williams in the 2000 US QF. Davenport "hit back" continually down the middle, with excellent depth and pace and Williams just imploded with errors trying to open up the court, especially on her backhand. I think the key is maintaining a good length to one's shots: if, during a rally down the centre, you drop your shot even an inch too short, you're finished...

Your thoughts?

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Old Nov 7th, 2002, 09:37 AM   #22
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Rollo, thanks for the all the great reads. I love all the stuff about Althea
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Old Nov 19th, 2002, 05:13 PM   #23
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OMG, what a great thread. Now I have to go back to General Messages and correct the way I misspelled Connolly! No wonder I had a hard time finding info on Google ...
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Old Nov 20th, 2002, 11:47 PM   #24
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Rollo, let me know if you find Mo's book! No one has it on half.com.

Also, I can't get your link to the Mo bio to work. Just an old photo comes up ...

I am enjoying all the posts here very much!
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Old Nov 21st, 2002, 03:21 AM   #25
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Mo Connolly's biog

Hi Janie,

You should have a look at ABEBOOKS.COM which is an online booksellers library (much like Amazon except booksellers around the world list titles). There are literally thousands of tennis books in the catalogue. You could do a general search under "tennis", or a more specific search for Mo's book, which is titled "Forehand Drive"....

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Old Nov 21st, 2002, 11:54 AM   #26
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Try the Mo Connolly foundation for the recent book

http://www.mcbtennis.org/index.htm. Proceeds go to the charity.

Here's a link to Amazon.com-where you can look at the some of the book, including 9 sample pages.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...140018-3011218


You're a wealth of info Rboi. Post more and don't stay a junior for long, it's misleading. While you are here I had another question. What does Doris Hart say about Fry in her book? Fry is truly a forgotten champ IMO considering she won all 4 slams. The only book featuring her was called "Once a Champion", where some man went around 20 years ago interviewing old tennis champs and playing tennis with them! I'd KILL to do that.

Last edited by Rollo : Nov 21st, 2002 at 12:03 PM.
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Old Nov 21st, 2002, 05:03 PM   #27
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Thanks for all the info, guys! I just ordered Mo's book from abebooks! It is coming all the way from the UK.
When I am through with it, I can send it to you, if you like, Rollo. I will go check out the recent book on amazon now ...
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Old Nov 21st, 2002, 07:21 PM   #28
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Now I have ordered her daughter's book from buy.com! All Mo, all the time!
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Old Nov 21st, 2002, 09:19 PM   #29
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Hi Janie,

I thought you would be able to find 'Forehand Drive' at Abebook.com and I'm sure you will enjoy reading it.

Following is an excerpt from "Advantage Receiver" by Jack Pollard, a well-known Australian commentator from the 50's and 60's. AR was published in 1960 and has some rather startling revelations, eg, how the professionals on the Kramer tour were always popping "goof balls" (which I presume were amphetamines) to give them energy on the tour and take away their aches and pains and a hilarious chapter on Mervyn Rose, the grand master of gamesmanship.

Here is what Pollard has to say on Mo:

"I can never think of Maureen Connolly without sorrow. She was the greatest woman tennis player I ever saw, and it is impossible to imagine that anyone of her sex ever hit a tennis ball harder and kept it in play. She spoiled me for every woman player I saw after her. There was something brutally unfair about the way she was forced to retire at twenty when the record book was at her mercy...

How they hated her, some of the aciduous, parchment-faced matrons she converted to withered has-beens. They made barbed comments about her being an unfeeling marchine and said her hours of practice were not worthwhile, and, by implication, unsportsmanlike. For three glorious years she unceremoniously discredited opponents set up to whip her...

An American sportswriter nicknamed her 'Little Mo', a tag which carried the idea that she had the punch of 'Big mo', the battleship Missouri. The girls Maureen walloped called her other names. Deep down, few women accepted without rancour the public humiliations Maureen handed out to them...Fewer still took their lickings with a smile or without planting the knife in Maureen around the cocktail parties and balls where the tennis smart set gathered. They sneered at Maureen as if she were made of teak, or something as unfeeling, and I have seen one of them sitting in the Press room at Wimbledon knitting furiously while she slandered Maureen. Maureen was out practising at the time, working on the weaknesses she recognized but which her spell-binding power prevented from being exploited."

Rollo, have you read "Once A Champion"? If so, what are your thoughts?

As could be expected, Shirley Fry is mentioned a lot in Doris Hart's book and always in glowing terms.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2002, 09:05 AM   #30
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What a delicious quote. "parchment-faced matrons coverted to withered has-beens". Ouch! Some of Hart's bitterness came out with her suggestion that Mo could have REALLY continued to play after her accident had she wanted to. One can sympathize with Fry and Hart though-it was "their turn" after Brough and DuPont were aging and along comes this upstart with a pushy coach who grabs all the attention. I'd have hated her too.

It's been ages since I read "Once a Champion" Rboi. My opinion was that it has value simply by covering those I knew little about (Fry and Hard). Some parts were silly to me-specifically where he badgers these old-timers to hit with him and describes their sets in graphic detail. It did bring a harsh reality to the surface for me.
An athletes career is incredibly short-even ones as long as Navratilova's. What do they do with the rest of it at age 30 something, when most people are moving up in life while their glory days are fading? "Once a Champion" provides a glimpse of what these stars are like when they no longer have the spotlight. For that alone it is unique.
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