Luksika Kumkhum may be Thailand’s top female tennis player but she revealed her frustration at having such a limited budget she is forced to travel to several overseas tournaments without her coach.
On Sunday the world No 101 beat Canadian Bianca Andreescu 6-3 6-3 in the final of the US$25,000 Kofu International Open in Japan, her first title since the SEA Games in Malaysia last August.
Luksika has opted to enter small events in Asia instead in the US hard-court season due a tight budget, which means she often has to play without the benefit of having her coach, Subin Sricha-aen, by her side.
“Several of my friends are surprised too. They thought that as the No 1 player in the country I should be able to afford the expense of my coach,” said Luksika, who re-ignited interest in Thai tennis by reaching the third round of the Australian Open in January, only the second Thai female after Tamarine Tanasugarn to do so.
She said she was often asked about her decision to play at the lower, ITF level while the WTA tour in the US is what every player aspires to reach.
She said many people mistakenly believed tennis players all enjoyed a glamorous life on tour.
“With the budget I have, I can only take my coach to some tournaments,” she said. “That’s why I haven’t gone to the US because I couldn’t compete without a mentor or someone I can consult with in a place far away like that. Even juniors players have to travel with their coaches.”
Luksika won’t reunite with Subin until the French Open and then the grass-court season, which features big events requiring professional help.
In the meantime she will limit herself to competing in four tournaments in Japan and China.
She also revealed she has begun preparing her CV to presented to companies as she seeks more sponsorship. She estimated she may need an extra BT500,000 at least to travel regularly with her coach and compete in WTA events for the rest of the season.
“I got it all wrong all along that if I had good results, the sponsors would come,” she admitted. “At a time like this, I have to approach them on my own if I still want to pursue my dream.”
After Tamarine, a former world No 19, Thailand had failed to even have a top-100 WTA player until Luksika came along.
She served notice of her potential in 2014 when she, as a qualifier, she had an upset win over Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the Australian Open first round – and four years later is still battling to fulfil that early promise.