GETTING TO KNOW... LUKSIKA KUMKHUM
Luksika Kumkhum announced herself to the tennis world with a first round upset of Petra Kvitova at the Australian Open. Worryingly for the rest of the tour, she wasn't even playing her best.
MELBOURNE, Australia - There have been plenty of upsets at this year's Australian Open and it all began last Monday when Luksika Kumkhum shocked former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the first round.
For Kumkhum it was the highlight of a whirlwind 12 months that have seen her racking up the wins and bounding up the rankings. Now perched at No.88 in the rankings, the 20-year-old has set her sights on emulating friend and Thai tennis legend Tamarine Tanasugarn by breaking into the Top 50 and beyond.
Can you talk about where you grew up?
LK: In Chantaburi, Thailand. It's not really big like Bangkok but not too small either!
When did you start playing tennis?
LK: At four. My dad is a good tennis player and he started me playing when I was very young. He wasn't pro but he was on the Thai national team, and he coached me until I was 15 and then I moved to Bangkok.
Why did you move to Bangkok?
LK: I moved because I got a sponsor and they were based there. I stayed in their house and they organized coaching and practice for me. I was there for two years and mainly working with an American coach there who had done a lot of work with top college and junior players in America.
Are you still based in Bangkok?
LK: Yes, I'm working at the Pyramid Tennis Academy now. A lot of the other Thai players are based there, like Nudnida Luangnam and Varatchaya Wongteanchai.
Did you have a tennis idol when you were growing up?
LK: Tammy Tanasugarn! I know her now and she is very nice and so friendly. The first time I met her we talked like we had known each other for two years. She's also a great player, a fighter on court and has had such a long, successful career.
Has she given any specific advice that has helped your tennis?
LK: She has really helped me learn about being a professional and sharing her experience of handling life on tour. We haven't practiced together but when we meet at tournaments she's always advising me and giving information about my opponents.
What's the best memory of your career?
LK: I think beating Kvitova here! She's a big player - Top 10 in the world - and not easy to play. I didn't think I would do something special before, but I just concentrated on playing each ball and not focusing on her too much. I played well, but not my best - I think it was just my day!
What are your strengths and weaknesses as a player?
LK: My serve could be a bit harder, I think. My strengths are my control and ability to move opponents around the court.
Do you have a favorite surface or tournament?
LK: Hardcourt and the Australian Open. It's warm and relaxed here, just like Thailand!
What are your short and long-term goals?
LK: Short term, I want to get in the Top 50. Long term, I want to get into the Top 10. Maybe even to No.1.
How do you relax away from the court?
LK: With my ukulele! I've been playing for two years. I'm pretty good. And now I bring it everywhere and keep it in my tennis bag. I also like movies and sometimes shopping. I've also started to learn to play golf - but just practicing at the moment!
Do you have a favorite movie?
LK: Thai food! Although there aren't really any good ones here.
Are you studying in school or university at the moment?
LK: I'm studying communications and PR at university. I started that last year and it should take four years, but it may take more because of my tennis. Sometimes it's hard to study because I'm doing everything on the road and I'm tired after practice.