LESS THAN a year after becoming a golf professional, former tennis star Paradorn Srichaphan has decided to take an indefinite break from competition golf after playing on the local circuit for five years.
But the former world No 9 tennis player, who teed off his pro golf career last August after making the cut in the All Thailand Premier Championship in his hometown of Khon Kaen, refused to say he had retired from golf, insisting he may return to competition one day.
After turning his back on tennis in 2010 and motorcycling racing later, Paradorn focused exclusively on golf. It took him five years to make his only cut, in the All Thailand Tour event last year. His last tournament was at the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima last December, where he failed to make the cut for the weekend rounds.
The 37-year-old insisted he was not discouraged by his results in the tournaments and instead considered himself a successful player. “I started golf from zero and it took me five years to become a pro. So I think I have been quite successful,” said the five-time ATP Tour winner.
Realising that long-term devotion and commitment is required to reach somewhere near the level of Thailand’s leading golfers, like Prayad Marksaeng, Paradorn admitted he was uncertain about his future in golf. Then along came his part-time job as a commentator for Fox Sports Asia, which helped him realise tennis was what he knew best. His top priority at the moment is to produce a successor who can carry on his legacy on the professional tennis circuit.
“I should have done it long ago but after I retired, I wanted to stay away from tennis and explore new horizons. That’s why I turned to motorcycling and golf. But now I think it’s time I made the best out of my tennis experience,” Paradorn said.
The former ATP star is now coaching a small, select group of young players at his Paradorn International Tennis Academy in Pattaya. Chompoothip Jandakate and teenager Nutthasit Kulsuwan are the two proteges he sees as having potential to pursue a serious tennis career.
“As an ATP player, I can see which youngster is a fighter, who has the hunger to turn professional and succeed.
“There are a few players I can help and make them ready for the pro circuit. But I don’t mind helping those with less potential. I want to give it a try. In the end, it’s their will that makes them a better player. It’s through sheer hard work and determination,” Paradon said.