Colin Stubs played a major role in reviving the fortunes of the Australian Open and is being remembered for his immense contributions to the sport.

The tennis community is mourning the death of former Australian Open tournament director Colin Stubs, who was influential in the event’s switch from grass to hard courts.

Stubs, who also competed at all four grand slams as a player, will be remembered as a pivotal figure in reviving the fortunes of the Australian Open, which struggled to attract the best players in the 1980s.

He died at age 81 this week after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Stubs retired from the tour to become a pharmacist and juggled that role with his Australian Open duties for several years before expanding his sports marketing and management enterprise and focusing on tennis.

The event hit arguably its lowest ebb in 1982, when none of the top-10 men’s players made the trip, but world No.1s and all-time greats Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf won the Melbourne title in his last year in charge in 1994.

Stubs developed strong player relationships, which helped bring them to Melbourne and served him well when he ran the Dubai Tennis Championships and Australian Men’s Hardcourt Championships in Adelaide.

The man known as ‘Stubsy’ also founded what was then known as the Kooyong Invitational in 1988, in partnership with the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club.

That was the same year the Australian Open moved to its new state-of-the-art, $94 million home at Flinders Park, which was renamed Melbourne Park eight years later.

The Kooyong exhibition tournament still runs today and will be part of the next tennis summer after a couple of years off because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Australian tennis great Paul McNamee succeeded Stubs as the grand slam’s tournament director and was among those to post a tribute.

“The tennis community lost a very likeable and good man in Colin Stubs,” McNamee wrote on Twitter.

“He was honest as the day is long, and made a great contribution to Australian tennis.”

Tennis Australia chief executive and current Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said Stubs was “a great pioneer of tennis”.

“He put players first and gained their trust,” Tiley said.

“He was an astute and widely respected tennis businessman who invested everything in showcasing the sport and staging tennis events of the highest order.

“He was an excellent player and very much his own man.”

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