Tennis Birthdays: Jan. 2, 2016

A F.O.R (Friend of Roger) celebrates today.

Stefan Koubek (AUT), 39

A small (5-foot-9, 150 pounds officially), solid lefty who managed to reach the top 20 (at No. 20) in 2000, Koubek had injury issues late in his career but still played a long time.

The Austrian is known for a couple of things. First, he’s a longtime pal of Roger Federer’s – and even was his practice partner of choice when Fed was at home in Switzerland before the Rogers Cup in 2009, awaiting the birth of his twins.

He also did what a lot of tennis players thought about doing, when he had this little encounter with his countryman, Crazy Dani Koellerer of Austria, at a clay-court event in South America.

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Koubek’s last match was a loss in the qualifying in Casablanca in April, 2011. He officially retired in early May of that year.

Chris Woodruff (USA), 43

Woodruff starred in college at Tennessee (He was the NCAA singles champion in 1993) then became one of many college players to come out and have a decent pro career.

Chris WoodruffHe put up a career ATP Tour record of 109-104, and earned almost $2 million. Woodruff broke into the top 30 in 1997 on the strength of his shocking win at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, where he upset then-No. 3 Goran Ivanisevic, No. 14 Mark Philippoussis, No. 7 Yevgeny Kafelnikov and No. 13 Gustavo Kuerten in the final, leaping from No. 57 to No. 30 in the process.

That was pretty much it. But he’ll always have that – and wins over seven former No. 1 players (although they weren’t necessarily No. 1 when he beat them): Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi (1996 French Open), Kafelnikov, Thomas Muster, Kuerten, Marcelo Rios and Carlos Moyà.

Woodruff returned to Tennessee after his career was done, and has been a coach with the men’s tennis team since the spring of 2002. He started as a volunteer coach, became assistant coach and, since 2006, is the “associate head coach”.

He hasn’t changed a bit, except for a slight hairline issue (or maybe a bad bangs issue). The team had a period where it went through three head coaches in four seasons but, for some reason, he hasn’t gotten the big job yet.

He has two kids, daughter Olivia and son Tate. He married Jennifer, an assistant coach for the Lady Vols swimming and diving program, in 2010.

Isabella Holland (AUS), 24

IsabellaHolland_newHolland was of those junior Aussie players who got all the opportunities a Slam country can provide, but was never able to break through.

She has two singles and three career doubles titles on the ITF circuit.

Holland got to No. 23 in the ITF junior rankings, which are combined singles and doubles rankings (she posted great records in both). She got to the final of the Wimbledon junior doubles in 2009, and the semis of the junior doubles in Australia in 2009.

In the pros, she peaked at No. 179 in 2011, and hasn’t played since last March.

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