Originally Posted by USS Tang
Connors is a rarity. His father apparently has very little influence in his life. His mother Gloria had been an outstanding tennis player, so she decides to mold him. Off they go, little Jimmy, Gloria, & her mother to all the USTLA (as it was then called) junior tournaments. We're talking the early and mid-1960s. Still, he's not the best. Gottfried, Stockton, Tanner, & Van Dillen routinely beat him in the 14s and 16s. Then, he gets the break of his life. His mother knows Pancho Segura, who is willing to take him under his wing, and in 1968 they're off to L.A. where he learns from the two Panchos (Segura and Gonzalez) and Bobby Riggs all there is to know about the game. Jimmy works hard and becomes a world-beater, but query: would he have achieved his success without those L.A. years?
I doubt he would have been a success without going to California, no, or at least his development would have been different.
I think his mother and grandmother put that fighting spirit in him. They would beat a very young Jimmy at tennis so often and they would never ease off, yet they also made sure that he would never give up trying to win, usually by making him wait a day or two before the next match, rather than beating him on the court so often in such a short period that he lost interest. I believe it wasn't until Jimmy was 15 that he finally beat his mother for the first time, not long before he went off to Pancho Segura's place in California, by which time Jimmy was finally starting to beat his mother regularly.
I also think it is obvious that the influence of his coach, Pancho Segura, was vital in developing Connors as a player, in terms of style and strategy. I think Connors' two-handed backhand had a lot of similarities with Segura's legendary two-handed forehand, in how it was such a powerful weapon. Pancho Gonzales and Bobby Riggs also played an influence, as you say, which taught Connors the subtleties about what life would be like on the tennis tour.
Roscoe Tanner talked in his autobiography about how he and Connors went to Las Vegas around 1969 to practice with Gonzales, and how Gonzales would make them keep a very tough schedule, and kept asking them the time, particularly during the night hours, in order to drive home the importance of making sure you know where you are in terms of schedule at all times, even in a place so scarce of clocks like Las Vegas.