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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old Oct 31st, 2004, 09:46 PM Thread Starter
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Wimbledon Doubles trivia

Recently while reading several postings on Helena Sukova's career on this board, I noticed posters neglected to mention her seven Wimbledon doubles titles (four doubles, three mixed), quite an accomplishment Perhaps most interesting of all those titles was her 1996 victory with a fifteen-year-old Martina Hingis. What an interesting combination that I unfortunately never got the chance to watch....

Rewinding the tape about 43 years prior, I noticed another interesting stat in the record book: Maureen Connolly actually lost at Wimbledon 6-0 6-0! Yes, it was in the the ladies doubles final (Hart/Fry def Connolly/Julie Sampson), but still, it occurred during her sterling grand slam year. Further, Connolly defeated Hart in straight sets in the ladies singles final, which just goes to show you how altogether different the game doubles really is. BJK has described Connolly's serve and volley shots as fairly weak, yet in Connolly's defense, Maureen obviously never had the opportunity to fully develop her game...

Any thoughts on either of these?

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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old Nov 1st, 2004, 01:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Santorofan
Recently while reading several postings on Helena Sukova's career on this board, I noticed posters neglected to mention her seven Wimbledon doubles titles (four doubles, three mixed), quite an accomplishment Perhaps most interesting of all those titles was her 1996 victory with a fifteen-year-old Martina Hingis. What an interesting combination that I unfortunately never got the chance to watch....

Rewinding the tape about 43 years prior, I noticed another interesting stat in the record book: Maureen Connolly actually lost a match 6-0 6-0! Yes, it was in the the ladies doubles final (Hart/Fry def Connolly/Julie Sampson), but still, it occurred during her sterling grand slam year. Further, Connolly defeated Hart in straight sets in the ladies singles final, which just goes to show you how altogether different the game doubles really is. BJK has described Connolly's serve and volley shots as fairly weak, yet in Connolly's defense, Maureen obviously never had the opportunity to fully develop her game...

Any thoughts on either of these?

In her biography Forehand Drive Maureen wrote about her problems with the serve and volley. This is what she wrote about the volley, "Psychology, too, was working against me. I had been hit in the chest by a hard smash at the net when I first started playing. That may have been a stumbling-block to my volley game."

Maureen also wrote this, " Another mental hazard to this new serve-and-volley attack was my inner conviction that both Helen Wills and Suzanne Lenglen had been superior to Alice and neither had built an attack on serve and volley alone."

Now clearly Maureen never lived long enough to see one of the greatest players ever, Martina Navratilova, play or she would have seen a player who was greater than both Wills and Lenglen. Maybe that would have changed her opinion, but I doubt it.

Frankly, it seems to me that over all the best doubles players tend to be serve and volleyers as opposed to the baseline players. When I think of the *best* dubs players of all times it's going to be: Martina N, Gigi Fernandez, BJK, Margaret Court, Casals, Brough, du Pont, Marble etc
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old Nov 1st, 2004, 03:44 AM Thread Starter
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Roan: Thanks for the illuminating quote; I've always wanted to read that book but it seems a pretty hard find. I did once, however, come across an old signature blue & white Mo Connolly tennis racket, in a thriftstore in Riverside,CA.... Definitely a relic I should've snagged, as I'm sure at least someone on the Blast board would've appreciated it!

I agree with the players you've listed; but with the new rackets dubs seems to be changing tactically to a significant degree (I'm even noticing the male pros staying back more, which is a bit startling). Did anyone catch the Olympic women's finals this year? That Chinese team seemed as if they were playing a different sport, strategy-wise. Interesting in an odd sort of way, but nothing that Alice Marble could ever've envisioned.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old Nov 1st, 2004, 10:49 AM
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Helena Sukova was an excellent doubles player but I really can't take her mixed doubles titles too seriously. Obviously, there is some merit but I don't believe most of the players took/take this event as anything more than a bit of fun.

It was just a pity that she and Jana Novotna couldn't achieve the final leg of the Grand Slam in 1990.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old Nov 1st, 2004, 12:26 PM
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Was Helena hard to get along with? It seems like her partnerships with Mandlikova, Kohde-Kilsch and Novotna all ended with a lot of bad blood. She seemed like a really nice person.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old Nov 1st, 2004, 01:12 PM
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I saw a couple of Hingis/Sukova's matches that year including the final and even though Hingis was 15 and Sukova was over 30, Hingis was the boss of the team all right! Hingis and Sukova's spilt was quite nasty as well. Something about Hingis saying she didn't want a regular partner as she only planned on playing selected doubles events? Sukova does seem to be quite prickly!
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old Nov 1st, 2004, 01:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by preacherfan
Was Helena hard to get along with? It seems like her partnerships with Mandlikova, Kohde-Kilsch and Novotna all ended with a lot of bad blood. She seemed like a really nice person.

I think a lot of people wonder about that because from most neutral accounts Sukova comes off as a pleasant person. Add to that the fact that she always looked so relaxed on court and it's just hard to imagine that she could be responsible for so much bad blood. But it's important to remember that she was also a competitor and she took doubles very seriously. This sometimes brings out some negativity in a lot of us.

There's always two sides to every story so take this with a grain of salt. In Hana's book she talked about her difficult relationship with the Suk family. She adored Vera Sukova who seemed like a secondary mother figure to her. She detested Cyril Suk the Czech Tennis Federation head. But she says of Helena that she tried to help her early on the tour by asking her to practice with her in Florida before big events.

The first blow up between them that I ever heard of was in 1984 when they were competing together in Boston. Apparently Hana didn't think Helena tried too hard during a semifinal match and chastised her in front of everyone. Because of Fed Cup and the Olympics, they continued to play a couple of times a year through 1987 before Hana's Aussie citizenship came though. But at the US Indoors in 1986 Hana didn't practice with Helena before a match they lost and Helena made an issue of that in a Czech newspaper. Hana said that she practiced with her coach instead and Helena knew that and had started the story because she was a jealous person.

Next, in 1986 the Czechs came up with some sort of bizarre ranking system that not only took a player's singles results and tour ranking into account but also the doubles to compile one ranking for singles and doubles results. This system named Helena the Czech #1 despite the fact that Hana had always been ranked higher than Helena in the tour rankings and at that time Hana had something like a 9-1 series edge between them. This upset Hana and she accused Cyril Suk of trying to embarrass her.

In her book, Hana says that before she made her comeback to the tour in 1989 that she and Helena had a talk that must have cleared the air. I'm not sure how long that lasted. But the highly successful Helena/Jana partnership came to an abrupt end at the Virginia Slims Champ. in 1990. And Helena's coach blames Hana for the break up. However, the only thing that we actually know about this is that it was Helena who called Jana up late one night and told her that she didn't want to be her partner anymore. Helena calls a press conference in Prague to announce the breakup and Hana flies to Prague to defend Jana.

After this, its hard to tell what happened between them. Hana become the Czech Fed Cup coach but I do believe that Helena did play on some of those teams in which she was coach. So maybe there was some sort of makeup between the three.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old Nov 1st, 2004, 08:46 PM
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Two baseliners will be beaten every time by a quality doubles team. Julia Sampson was never a factor before or after 1953. Combine a baseliner with a serve and volleyer and it can make for a good partnership IMO-because the return of serve combined with someone at net who can put away balls works.

Thus Bueno-Richey, Brough-Connolly, Betz-Hart, and Evert-Navratilova made solid teams.

I'd like to get Nancy's view on that. Her game was similar to Mo's, but I've read that Nancy had a better volley.

BTW-when Alfa and I interviewed Pauline Betz (another baseliner) she mentioned playing with Connolly once-joking about how hoorible they both were in doubles.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old Nov 2nd, 2004, 05:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rollo
Two baseliners will be beaten every time by a quality doubles team. Julia Sampson was never a factor before or after 1953. Combine a baseliner with a serve and volleyer and it can make for a good partnership IMO-because the return of serve combined with someone at net who can put away balls works.

Thus Bueno-Richey, Brough-Connolly, Betz-Hart, and Evert-Navratilova made solid teams.

Durr-Jones might be the exception. They were one of the world's top teams for the 18 months or so they were together and competed on a pretty level field with Casals/King especially. The 68 Wimbledon final was was only a matter of a couple of points.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old Nov 2nd, 2004, 08:00 AM
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Graf-Sabatini were pretty useful, too, and Arantxa is another example of a baseliner who was a fine doubles player. Hingis as well.

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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old Nov 2nd, 2004, 08:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maggie May
I saw a couple of Hingis/Sukova's matches that year including the final and even though Hingis was 15 and Sukova was over 30, Hingis was the boss of the team all right! Hingis and Sukova's spilt was quite nasty as well. Something about Hingis saying she didn't want a regular partner as she only planned on playing selected doubles events? Sukova does seem to be quite prickly!
Exactly Maggie, the Wimbledon final was a bit embarrassing for Helena from my point of view even tho they won. Basically she struggled to get any returns in play, but Hingis was brilliant winning nearlly all her points on her return. Sukova's serve was a factor ofcourse and she did contribute to the win, but it was all Hingis!

Hingis splits with nearlly all her doubles partners weren't great according to rumour. She and Seles didn't part ways too well from what I can remember. Her and Anna and their argument after an exhibition singles match, apparently Novotna was too old....etc....

Did she learn a thing or two off Helena. Rumour had it that Helena was jealous of Jana's success but Helena said that she couldn't stand Jana's behaviour on the court. Helena switched from CKK because she felt CKK just couldn't handle the highest pressure.

Women's doubles splits are often better than a soap!

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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old Nov 2nd, 2004, 10:44 PM Thread Starter
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1974 US Open Mixed finals

Chris Whiteside: Tracy Austin considers her Wimby mixed doubles victory one of her top/favorite career highlights. But for some reason the public in general has been less enthusiastic about that part of professional competition. Speaking for myself however, I appreciate good tennis period, no matter what shape the particular competition comes in...

One intriguing element for me when watching a mixed match is how well a particular female pro can handle the opposing man's firepower. Generally those female players with a strong return of serve do fairly well in mixed - all other things being equal. Clearly another important variable is to what degree the male player is able to force his will upon the female within a match. A good example of this not being done was in the mixed doubles finals of the 1974 US Open (Connors/Evert vs Geoff Masters/Pam Teegauden), on paper the match seemed pretty even, though Evert/Connors lost because Connors evidently refused to hit to Teegaurden with any regularity, while Masters was clubbing shots at Evert left and right. On the changeover, Evert states she demanded to Jimmy "You've got to start hitting to Pam." But the gentleman in Connors simply wouldn't let him do it, and predictably, the pair lost in staight sets (6-1 7-6).
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