The Australian tennis community pays tribute to former Australian Open Tournament Director Colin Stubs who steered the event through critical changes.
Melbourne, Australia, July 15, 2022 | Kim Trengove
The tennis community mourns the death of Colin Stubs, a former longtime Australian Open tournament director who was instrumental in steering the event from the grass courts at Kooyong to the new hard courts. padded Melbourne Park in 1988.
“Stubsy,” as he was affectionately known in the tennis family, was a class act on and off the court. Born on February 27, 1941, he competed against the greats of Australian tennis and ventured onto the international circuit throughout the 1960s when there was virtually no financial reward for aspiring players.
Stubs’ tennis career began at age 16 with a win in the Victoria Schoolboys Under-19 Championship. While completing a four-year degree in pharmacy, Stubs reached the second round of the 1961 Australian Championships.
He first traveled overseas by boat to compete on the international circuit and won a tournament in Cannes, which helped Colin and a companion buy an old VW to get around Europe.
Stubs appeared at Roland Garros in 1967 and 1968 (2R), the US Championships in 1968 (2R) and the Australian Championships again in 1967 and 1968 (2R) but his best results were a third round appearance at Wimbledon in 1967 and heartbreaking Hall of Famer Dennis Ralston in Los Angeles in 1968.
From player to promoter
He retired from touring soon after to become a pharmacist and in 1975 was asked to work as a consultant for Tennis Australia by new chairman and good friend, Wayne Reid.
For many years, Stubs served as both Australian Open tournament director and pharmacist, “talking on the phone to international tennis players and handing out headache pills” to the public.
One player of the time recalled, “You would go to the drugstore to find the cut off entrance for the head of tournaments at Stubsy’s Wheeler’s Hill Drugstore.”
Stubs sold his pharmacy in 1978 and expanded his sports marketing and management business, cementing his role with the Australian Open.
With players wondering about the Australian Championship schedule in December and January and increasingly reluctant to make the long journey Down Under, the event was at a crossroads.
Stubs has been a key player in the revival of the Australian Open. He was there during the AO’s toughest times when, in 1982, none of the top 10 male players entered the tournament, but in his final year as tournament director in 1994, the No. 1 Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf won the championships.
Recalls Paul McNamee in his autobiography Game Changer: My Tennis Lifewho took over management of the AO Tournament in 1995, Stubsy’s advice at the time was: “Watch out, there’s always something unexpected happening.”
Stubs has worn many hats, including shaping the early careers of leading young Australian players Todd Woodbridge, Richard Fromberg, Jason Stoltenberg and Johan Anderson.
“Colin was terrific,” Woodbridge said. “I was 16 and Colin took care of me for a few years and got my first sponsorship deals. He knew how everything worked and gave us the opportunity to compete against higher ranked professionals. He really developed that era of Australian tennis.He was versatile and played a major role in the evolution of the AO at a crucial time.
Stubs launched the (formerly named) Kooyong Invitational in 1988 in partnership with Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, the same year the Australian Open moved to its permanent home at the new, state-of-the-art $94 million complex at Flinders Park. , renamed Melbourne Park in 1996.
Priority to players
He continued to lead the eight-man exhibition at Kooyong until 2014 and always attracted a strong group, such was his standing with the players. Stubs prioritized player relations and took pride in entertaining them and showing them around Melbourne.
Close friend and former Australian Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald, the former said Stubsy was an integral part of the players. “What he says he will do, he does. If Colin gave you his word, it was his commitment. He always advised me and he was a great friend. He was much appreciated by the players. »
Stubs led the Dubai Tennis Championships in the mid-1990s and was a former tournament director of the Australian Men’s Hard Court Championships in Adelaide until 2003. He was a promoter, player manager, organizer and tournament director.
More importantly, he was husband to Sue and father to Tom, Georgia, David and Richard, who sadly passed away in 2019. He also remained fit and vibrant throughout his life, working as a gardener in his forest beloved from Sherbrooke to Dandenong to Melbourne. Ranges in his 80s.
“We have lost a great tennis pioneer,” said Tennis Australia CEO and AO Tournament Director Craig Tiley. “He put the players first and gained their trust. He was an astute and well-respected tennis businessman who invested everything in showcasing the sport and organizing top-notch tennis events.
“He was a great player and really his own man.”
Colin Stubs died on July 13 at the age of 81 from pancreatic cancer. Tennis Australia sends its deepest condolences to Colin’s family and friends.