Tamarine wants Wimbledon success to lay foundations for Asian tennis

Other News Materials 2 July 2008 06:15 (UTC +04:00)

Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn hopes her historic run to the Wimbledon quarter-finals will help encourage Asian governments to put more money into developing young tennis players.

Tamarine, 31, became the first Thai to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam this week and, although her run ended with a 6-4, 6-3 defeat to Venus Williams on Tuesday, she is determined to use her increased profile to make a difference to the sport in Asia, the AFP reported.

With Zheng Jie through to the Wimbledon semi-finals - the first time a Chinese player has gone that far at a Grand Slam - Asian tennis appears to be on the up.

But Tamarine, who now lives in Los Angeles, believes more investment is needed in the region if Asia is to produce top stars.

"I hope because I'm doing well the regions start to take more interest in tennis," she said.

"Maybe 15 years ago I don't think they really knew about tennis professionals. We're better with kickboxing.

"I hope it's good for Asians to prove we can do well. With Paradorn Schrichapan and me doing well, the regions have started to realise we have this kind of sport.

"I hope the foundations or governments improve and support tennis."

Tamarine gave an intelligent, composed display against four-time champion Williams that would have been good enough to beat many of the world's best players.

But the American seventh seed sent down enough big serves to always stay one step ahead of her opponent.

"Her game and her style are really hard because she has a big serve and big groundstrokes," said Tamarine who converted just one of eight break points.

"I tried to be aggressive and step up. But she served very well. When she was acing me many times, I was like, 'In the next life I want to be as tall as her, please!

"In that kind of tough situation, she made big serves on the 'T'. That's how the great players do it in the very critical times. So what can I do? I tried the best I could."

Losing to Williams, the defending champion, is no disgrace though and Tamarine, whose ranking will soar from 60 into the top 40, was delighted to see her game back on the up after some poor results over the last two years.

"I'm back on track. I was struggling these last two years. Actually at Wimbledon two years ago I was thinking if I didn't play well, I would stop with my career," she said.

"But I'm still here, still enjoying tennis. So I'll keep going forward."

After over 10 years on an increasingly young tour where energy and athleticism are crucial, Tamarine is well aware that she won't be able to sustain this kind of form for ever.

Although she has no intention of retiring, she plans to start a business degree in preparation for life away from the courts.

"At this kind of age you're thinking a lot more about what you're going to do. Probably I'll study for a master's degree in business at Bangkok University," she said.

"If I can try to help and improve tennis in Thailand I will love to do that as well."

First Tamarine just wants to put her feet up back home in California for a few days after her efforts at the All England Club.

"I've been away from home since Strasbourg, before the French Open. It's almost two months," she said. "I didn't have a chance to be home that much and I would love to go home as soon as possible."