Thursday, January 12, 2017

Jimmy T2000 Connors

Connors own comments on Style

Jimmy Connors comments on his style from 1995 Charlie Rose interview:
He got on the ball so early, hitting it on the rise so did not have time to put spin on it.
He was taught by two women giving him a woman's game, a tight compact easy game.
Brought up playing on varnished wood not slow courts like most players in his day.
The varnished wood made him have to set up early.
This gave him a compact set up but longer follow through.
This as opposed to big looping strokes for other players that allowed them to put more top spin on balls.

Racquet comments from interview:
Jimmy is not confident that he would have won in an era with oversize and midsize rackets.
With the wooden and steel racquets of his day, you had to be precise and accurate and hit it in the center of the strings.
You could not hit it on the outside of the strings near the frame.
He thinks like baseball keeping wooden racquets and golf not allowing square grooves the newer racquet technology has taken away from the game.
There is only one style today, hit it hard and, if that does not work, hit it harder.

Wiki - Jimmy Connors

Biggest weapons:
Competitive nature who often ground opponents down by outlasting them.
Strong service turn.
Flat two handed back hand.

Jimmy was not a large player.
Hit ball early on the rise which reflect his opponents power and velocity back at them.
Hit from the baseline.
Not a serve and volley style player like most players were at his peak.
Did not hit with a large topspin like most players.
Forehand hit with continental grip with little net clearance.
Forehand was considered his weak stroke as it lacked the safety margin of a topspin forehand and often failed him under pressure.
Serve was adequate, accurate but without the velocity of his opponents.
His weak serve and lack of a net game was atypical for players at that time.
This weak serve, net game and individual style made him ill suited for doubles.

Gloria Conners

New York Times Magazine - Mom vs the World


Tennis Warehouse - how come Connors did so well with T2000 against graphite?

When all is said and done tennis is about DEPTH, and he consistently hit deep as well as anyone in memory. Hitting "flat" is another way of saying his groundies didn't bounce near the service line.

Connors' balls were hard, flat, deep, and low. Chris Evert was the only other pro that I could think of who would hit the ball like that. Everybody else would hit the ball with topspi ]n

Connor's shots were _relatively_ flat. Lots of them had light under-spin, which is unusual with a two-handed backhand -- but he had a remarkably open-faced two-hander. It was like a two-handed continental forehand, whereas most two-handers are like weak-side eastern forehands. He put light topspin on his passing shots, and most of his down-the-line shots rallying shots were hit with side-spin.

Actually, before Connors _most_ players hit their forehands without deliberate topspin -- but without Connor's accuracy and consistency. Also, most players before him tended to slide most of their backhands low with heavy under-spin (though they'd hit flatter or even with a bit of topspin against a net-rusher).

When Connors was a junior, Rod Laver was one of the few people who used lots of topspin. Most of the players of Connor's generation copied Laver, but obeying his mother Connors copied Don Budge.

He could use a T-2000 because of his stroke trajectory. Like people said, he hit flat, so you can imagine his swing path. It really REALLY hit through the ball. Like a baseball swing. Try hitting like Nadal with a racket head like that. 

And it wasn't just his flat, deep balls -- I think he was considered the hardest hitter around when he first came out on the scene -- but his point construction. HOW he used his shots. He really understood the game of tennis, the guy just KNEW when to go for blood, almost better than anybody I could think of. His incredible instincts, along with the fact he hit the ball so early, is why he had such a great run in his late 30's. Like Agassi, hitting the ball early helped prolong his career. Because they hit so early, they were constantly cutting off angles, instead of retreating to buy time and space, therefor over the course of their career, they ran a lot less and put a lot less miles on their legs.

I've actually hit with a T-2000 before. I only hit a few groundstrokes but you'll be amazed by how something so primitive is okay for hitting tennis balls with.

While it has been many years since I hit with one, I recall it having far more power than anything else at the time. I bet these things could rival the power of many modern racquets.

Lead tape

He used lead only on one side of the frame for example at 9 o clock.
By always keeping the weighted side up on both wings s he was able to tame the t2000. The weighted side of the racquet would slightly close at contact helping to keep the hard hit flat ball in the court.

The t2000 was one of the last racquets to fit his style but with lead on one side it fit his game with great success.

Wooden Courts of the St Louis Armory

St Louis National Guard Armory

In addition to its primary military duties, the building was a major gathering place fo rmany years. Stories and legends abound; it hosted a variety of sporting events and facilities. Tennis great Jimmy Connors honed his skills on the wood floors within. The building hosted concerts, including a 1968 Grateful Dead show. It continued in use as a sports facility into the 2000s, slowly declining.

Don Budge

Don Budge by Joel Drucker

 Standing all of five-feet-six-and-a-half inches until the year he turned eighteen, Don felt his slight size aided his growth as a player. As Budge wrote in his 1969 book, A Tennis Memoir, “It forced me to learn an entirely different game from the one I would have played had I been a big kid who could just get out on the court and huff and puff and blow everybody down. Since that possibility was denied me, I had to find another way to win …. The best way to do that was to keep the ball in play.”

If consistency aided young Budge in the short-term, it was his immersion in baseball that would help him greatly in the long-term. As a left-handed batter, Budge struck the baseball with a smooth low-to-high swing; he applied that same technique to his backhand. Budge likely didn’t know that at the time, but he’d created a motion that would revolutionize tennis.

At that point, tennis was barely fifty years old. Technique and instruction was rather rudimentary. The easiest way to get the ball over the net was to chop at it from high to low and impart underspin on the ball so that it would loft over the net. Functional as this was at keeping the ball in play, chopped strokes hardly moved through the court with much speed or force. Even more, the rising qualities of a ball struck with underspin made it ineffective against a player who came forward to net to play a volley. It is much easier to volley a ball that is rising than one dipping with topspin.

Budges first big lesson was getting sugar out of his diet and implementing a strict fitness regimine.

The second lesson from Perry came in January ’37. Asked to umpire a match in Chicago between Perry and Vines, Budge studied the two closely. Vines hit the ball so much harder than Perry that Budge figured he would win handily. But as the match went on, Budge saw how Perry was hitting the ball sooner, in a manner akin to a baseball infielder fielding drives on a short hop. It was Perry, not Vines, who was dictating the tempo. As Vines wrote in his 1980 book, Tennis: Myth and Method“It occurred to Budge: Suppose a man hit as hard as Vines and took it as early as Perry? Who could beat him? 

Over the course of seven years, Budge handcrafted a new, aggressive tennis game of sustained drives from the baseline, struck early and hard. What he created built the template further honed by Connors, Agassi, and Djokovic. Many other champions such as John McEnroe and Monica Seles also put Budge’s ideas into place, most notably when they use the term “taking the ball on the rise.”

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