Sep 04, 2008|
Growing up, I always wanted to become an airplane pilot. When I was five or six, my dad took me to Hong Kong and it was my first time on a plane. When you’re flying you get that feeling of unbounded freedom. The world suddenly becomes so big when you’re looking down from high above the ground.
Asthma led me to tennis. After I was diagnosed, the doctor recommended taking up a sport to strengthen my health. I started swimming, but I found it difficult to keep myself afloat! My grandmother suggested that I gave tennis a try and it clicked right away.
I try to find my strengths as a player, and work on perfecting those skills. For example, one of my strong points is my speed. So while I work a considerable amount hitting the ball, I spend more time on sprinting and direction-changing drills. I train on court in the morning and then spend my afternoons in the weight room.
Tennis is a lot about serving. A good serve gives you a head start in a game. The taller you are, the better off you will be at serving. As an average Thai male (174cm), I am at a height disadvantage compared to most European or American players.
I think every opponent is scary. Occasionally, I study my previous competitors’ strategies. If I lose to them, I try and find out how I can fix those mistakes before I play them again.
All my life, I dreamed of being among the world’s top 100 players. There was a period when I was so focused on the rankings that I wasn’t playing my own game. I put myself under so much pressure, I lost to people I could have beaten. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t beat players who were ranked 200 or 300 places below me.
At that point, I wanted to quit tennis altogether. A friend of mine who was ranked below me asked me why I would ever quit. There were tons of people who would do anything to be where I was, why would I throw away this opportunity? Listening to him helped me change my perspective. I started doing better and managed to rise as high as 77th.
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” is now a motto I use to keep myself going. If you don’t even try, how are you supposed to get what you want?
My biggest achievements are the ones I never thought I could reach. I am most proud of the gold medal I won in the 2006 Asian Games as part of Thailand’s national team. I also did not expect to get into the third round of the 2007 Australian Open.
My ultimate dream is to be back in the world’s top 100 again.
The best age for a tennis player is between 20 and 25 years old. That’s when your body is at its peak. I remember when I could do whatever, play however hard, and I would never get tired. Now I’m starting to feel a little fatigue. But I will keep playing tennis for a while, depending on what my body and my health will allow.
I think I’ve attained a Ph.D. in tennis. Having been one of the world’s top 100 players, I believe I’ve acquired enough experience to pass that knowledge on to young players. For this reason, I want to become a coach or run a tennis-related business after my playing career is over. I also have plans to get into real estate.
Tennis is my career; my family is my life support. My parents don’t play tennis, so we never discuss the technical aspects. Rather, they support me emotionally during the hard times.
They encourage me to keep playing; they remind me that playing tennis is my job. And right now, being a tennis player is a pretty well-paid job.
If I didn’t play tennis, I would be studying. I was a good student when I was younger, but after turning pro, I didn’t have the time.
If I could invite anyone to dinner, I would choose P’Bird (Thongchai McIntyre). I went to his concert when I was about 10 and I’ve been a fan ever since. I would also love to dine with Ana Ivanovic. She’s very pretty. I’ve seen her many times, but I’ve never talked to her.