Thursday, August 12, 1999

Woodruff making comeback


American puts injuries in past

BY NEIL SCHMIDT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

woodruff
Chris Woodruff
| ZOOM |
        MASON — It's doubtful anyone is happier to inhabit the Great American Insurance ATP round of 16 than Chris Woodruff. Not that anyone has been happier this year just holding a racket.

        The 26-year-old from Knoxville, Tenn., beat 13th seed Thomas Enqvist 6-1, 7-5 Wednesday, furthering his candidacy for Comeback Player of the Year honors. He has jumped his world ranking 1,513 spots in six months, resurrecting a career that nearly ceased after a knee injury in late 1997.

        “I feel like I've been given a second chance,” Woodruff said. “I appreciated how special it is to play pro tennis before, so that hasn't changed, but it's really nice to be back.”

        Woodruff's injury happened when he and fellow pro Richey Reneberg were goofing around kicking field goals. Woodruff's shoe caught the ground, and he tore cartilage in his left knee.

        He returned last year at Indian Wells, Calif., but played just one match before shutting down the rest of the year. Ranked 30th after 1997, his ranking dipped to 1,599th this February.

        “I came back a little too early,” he said. “Then a 3- or 4-month process became an 11- or 12-month process.”

        Woodruff reached the semis this year at Indian Wells, a Mercedes Super 9 event, and won his second career title last month on grass in Newport, R.I. He is ranked 86th now.

        “I don't think I've lost anything since '97,” he said. “I'm not really focused on my ranking anymore, just on doing the best I can.”

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