Tennis legend working to boost his sport in regional areas
DOUBLES legend Todd Woodbridge knows how difficult it can be to promote tennis during the winter months.
Woodbridge works with Tennis Australia and hopes the game can maintain its popularity in regional areas during the rugby league and soccer season.
"Getting our sport seen and talked about can be quite a challenge when the footy seasons starts," Woodbridge said.
"I like to visit regional parts of Australia because that's where some of biggest stars come from in all sports.
"We do a lot of work in regional areas to look after the courts and try to get as many tournaments there as possible."
Woodbridge, who is best known from his doubles partnership with Mark Woodforde, has worked in media and Tennis Australia over the years.
He has also mentored some of the top Australian talent.
"It's a thrill to be able to watch some of the players we have coming through," Woodbridge said.
"A lot of what I've been doing (recently) has been mentoring young players.
"I can talk to them about the highs and lows and help them.
"It's really rewarding when you see them go out and get the results."
Woodbridge believes it will be an interesting year for Samantha Stosur.
Stosur turned 30 on Sunday and one time was ranked No 4 in the world.
"She is ranked outside the top 40 at the moment and it's not the start to the year she would have liked," Woodbridge said.
"I think it's just a matter of taking the shackles off and getting rid of the some of the stress.
"Sometimes when you get in the top 10 you spend too much time worrying about holding on to the ranking.
"It would be great to see her get some momentum."
SNAPSHOT OF CAREER
WOODBRIDGE spent 17 years as a tennis professional winning 83 ATP tournament doubles titles.
His early success and primary doubles partner was Mark Woodforde as the pair became known as "The Woodies".
They won 11 grand slam doubles titles and five straight at Wimbledon.
He reached a career high singles ranking of 19 after making the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 1997.
Registered a win against former world no 1 Pete Sampras in the first round of Wimbledon in 1989.
Woodbridge and Woodforde were inducted in the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame in 2010.
They also joined the International Tennis Hall of Fame that same year.
Best memory: "First time playing at Wimbledon for sure."
Best win: "Olympic Games gold medal in the men's double at Atlanta in 1996."
Toughest opponent: "Definitely Andre Agassi. My game seemed to play right into his strengths."
Worst injury: "I had an elbow injury that was pretty constant for about two years."
TOUGH TIMES AHEAD FOR TOMIC
TODD Woodbridge expects a tough couple of months for returning Australian tennis player Bernard Tomic.
Tomic suffered a humiliating defeat in what was the fastest loss in ATP Tour history last week.
He lost 6-0 6-1 in 28 minutes, 20 seconds to Finn Jarkko Nieminen.
The 21-year-old was playing for the first time since an injury retirement against Rafael Nadal in the first round of the Australian Open.
"He should have never played in that tournament," Woodbridge said.
"It was way too early to come back from that hip surgery and it's not good for his confidence.
"We've seen what he is capable of and that result is not a reflection of the work he puts in."
Tomic is one of several Australian players Woodbridge has helped mentor in recent years.
He believes Tomic will benefit from having Pat Rafter and Tony Roche around him.
"Bernie obviously gets a lot of press about his father (John Tomic)," Woodbridge said.
"There is nothing he can really do about that and his dad will always be there.
"I've had a lot to do with his dad and family and everyone has his best interests at heart.
"I wasn't in the team of people that decided he should play (last week) but obviously it was the wrong decision."
Woodbridge is expecting a bumper year for Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.
Djokovic had an impressive 6-3 6-3 win against world number one Rafael Nadal in the Sony Open at Miami on Sunday.
"It will be interesting to see how Novak and (new coach) Boris Becker develop," he said.
"I'm also intrigued to see how Federer goes.
"I wouldn't be surprised to see him win one of the grand slams."