Maureen Connolly was the great woman that the “Little Mo” Intermountain Sectionals tournament is named after. When Connolly was sixteen, she began lessons and was coached by Eleanor Tennant. (Tennant was the first United States female tennis player to become professional). She received the name “Little Mo” from a San Diego sports journalist, when she was eleven years old. Connolly was an amazing tennis star in San Diego during the 1950’s. She started out her tennis career when she was very young. When she was sixteen, she won the 1951 U.S. Championship game. During this time, she became the youngest woman ever to win the championship. The associated press even named her female athlete of the year for the next three following years. Connelly was an amazing singles player. She never lost a singles championship game and had a perfect nine for nine score.
Sadly, Connolly’s professional tennis career didn’t last long at all. Her career only persisted from 1951 when she won the United States Women’s National Singles Championship, all the way to 1954 when Connolly won her two doubles championships. She won one mixed doubles championship and one women’s doubles championship. Both championships were held in France. Shortly after winning these championships, Connelly was involved in a car accident while outside riding her horse. She was hurt very badly, breaking her leg and injuring her muscles and tendons. After the incident Connolly knew her tennis career was over. After her career had ended, Connelly wrote her autobiography “ForeHand Drive”. It was then published in 1957. Connolly passed away in 1969 at the age of 34 from cancer. Shortly after her death, Connolly’s life was turned into a movie called “Little Mo”. It first showed on NBC in 1978. Now Connolly’s name is instated in Chicago within the Irish American Hall of Fame.