PETER Doohan was once the ‘‘Becker Wrecker’’, but these days he wants to rebuild Newcastle tennis.
The one-time world No.43 has always cited his formative years at National Park and Adamstown tennis courts as the reason he lived out his dream on the professional circuit, including playing in 39 grand slam tournaments in singles and doubles, and a Davis Cup victory over Sweden in 1986.
Tennis fans most remember Doohan for pulling off one of the greatest upsets in Wimbledon history when he defeated No.1 seed and two-time defending champion Boris Becker 7-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the second round in 1987.
On Wednesday the 53-year-old will begin coaching at Lambton Park Tennis Courts twice a week.
Since returning from the US in 2009 after 20 years of coaching, Doohan has been based at Nelson Bay.
‘‘I’m chomping at the bit to get into Newcastle as I’d like to put something back into the tennis community in Newcastle because that’s where my skills were developed and the foundations for my career were laid,’’ Doohan said.
Since the days when Doohan played on the world circuit and fellow Novocastrian Christine O’Neill won the women’s Australian Open title in 1978, tennis has been in a steep decline locally.
The last Newcastle player to appear in a grand slam event was Eleebana’s Nick Lindahl, who received wildcard entries for the 2008 and 2010 Australian Opens.
Lindahl, 26, retired in 2013 after it was alleged he tanked in a Toowoomba Futures tournament that his friend Matthew Fox placed bets on.
The allegations were heard at Melbourne Magistrates Court last month and the case is continuing.
Doohan admitted it had been a tough period for tennis in Newcastle.
‘‘People are obviously busier these days and tennis is played on synthetic grass, which doesn’t necessarily help juniors for these big hardcourt tournaments in Melbourne,’’ he said.
However, Doohan said Country tennis remained strong and identified Sam Groth’s loss to Brendan Moore in the Newcastle Open final in 2013 as an example.
Groth, the world No.82, made it to the third round of the Australian Open but lost to fellow Australian Bernard Tomic 6-4, 7-6, 6-3 on Friday.
‘‘These guys [like Groth] are out there playing tournaments in Newcastle and country NSW,’’ Doohan said.
‘‘The talent is there. It just needs to be recognised and developed the right way.’’