Thailand’s most famous tennis player Paradorn Srichapan (centre), his agent Geoff Heydt (left) and TFC Secretary General Tep Rithivt pose for a photgraph after their meeting in Bangkok on Wednesday. Photo Supplied
Within days of competing the Kingdom’s first back-to-back ITF Men’s Futures events, the Tennis Federation of Cambodia was well poised to rope in legendary Thai player Paradorn Srichapan to help boost their grassroots programme.
A meeting between the tennis ace, who was the first Asian to crack the ATP’s top 10 list in his playing career, and TFC Secretary General Tep Rithivit concluded in Bangkok on Wednesday leading to a broad understanding over his future involvement with Cambodian junior projects.
“We had a very fruitful meeting,” said Tep Rithivit. “He is very keen to help us with our programmes and we feel extremely privileged to use his vast experience and expertise. He is planning a visit to Cambodia in mid-March so that we can work out the extent of his involvement.”
Arguably the best Asian player of his generation on the ATP tour, Paradorn’s dazzling career was cut short in 2007 by a recurring wrist problem. He had climbed to a career high world ranking of ninth in late 2002 and was regarded by many frontliners at the time as the most feared rival on court.
The multi-faceted Paradorn also made an impact on the silver screen when he starred in Thai blockbuster Bang Raja II. He switched his sights to adventures in motorcycle racing for a while before unveiling his hugely popular Srichapan Tennis Academy last year in Thailand’s Khon Kaen province.
“He is a household name in Thailand and the most recognisable tennis face there is in this part of the world. His involvement will be invaluable for us as we embark on our drive to take junior tennis to the provinces,” added Tep Rithivit.
The man who elevated Asia’s tennis profile may also play a lead role in the proposed Grassroots Opportunity Tennis Foundation – a joint venture involving TFC President and Senior Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh, TFC Goodwill Ambassador Leander Paes of India, Secretary General Tep Rithivit and Treasurer Chris Forsinetti.