Archive for Wednesday, September 10, 1997

PERELMAN WORKING AS TUTOR FOR RISING WOODRUFF

September 10, 1997

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The 10-year reunion of Kansas' 1987 Big Eight men's championship tennis team brought several former Jayhawk players to town last weekend.

Also returning was former KU coach Scott Perelman, who engineered a pair of league titles in his decade as Jayhawk coach.

"Yes, I miss it. My wife (Cindy) had never been here. She fell in love with it the first five hours we were here. It's a good Midwestern-people town. I gave a lot of myself to this place. I put in a lot of 16-hour work days here," Perelman said.

Perelman, 42, left KU after the 1992 season, serving one season as an assistant at Tennessee. He resigned his post to work as personal coach for Vols' NCAA champ Chris Woodruff, who turned pro after his soph season.

Perelman is in his fourth year coaching Woodruff, who has climbed to 29th in the world and recently won the Canadian Open.

Woodruff, who has won $583,596 this season, started his pro career ranked 335th in the world. He dropped to 310 his second year, 100 his third year and has emerged as the third-ranked player in the U.S. behind Michael Chang and Pete Sampras his fourth year.

"I think his next step is a top-10 ranking and winning a Grand Slam event," Perelman said of the 24-year-old Woodruff, a native of Knoxville, Tenn.

Perelman, who now lives in Monroe, Mich., with his wife and 15-month old baby boy, Samuel, travels with Woodruff 180 days a year and spends the rest with his family in Michigan, where he was born and raised.

"It's a tough lifestyle. It's lonely, cutthroat. You don't make friends out there," Perelman said of the road. "Nobody will talk to you because my guy might be playing your guy for $100,000 the next day. Fortunately Chris and I have a great relationship and I have a great relationship with his parents."

Perelman said there's a big difference between coaching one player and coaching a college team.

"Every week you are playing for money," Perelman said. "If you don't succeed, it's hard to stay in the business long."

The business side has improved now that Woodruff has emerged.

"The first two years, ranked in the 300s, we stayed at dumpy hotels with zero hospitality," Perelman said. "Now when we get to a town we are picked up in a Mercedes and taken wherever we want to go. We stay at five-star hotels. They give you tickets to other events in town -- sports, theatre or whatever."

Perelman said he'd like to coach Woodruff for years to come. He'd be enticed by perhaps one job offer, the coaching post at University of Michigan.

"I miss being on the college campus, the energy of the other sports," Perelman said. "You do become spoiled working for yourself.

"It's a funny business. You never know what the future holds. I would say of the top 40-50 guys in the world, not a single guy doesn't travel with a full-time coach. Guys are changing coaches like they change underwear. We've been together four years. Longevity-wise, that's the upper 5 percent.

"He has expressed to me and so has his family he'd like one coach his whole career. They felt I showed loyalty sticking with him early and I felt they were loyal to me.

"It is not the lifestyle in all honesty I love -- the constant travel. I do love the challenge of getting to see him get better. I started with him and would like to see it through."

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