Phuket: The ace tennis coach
PHUKET: Voranuch Intana is a Phuket-born former professional national tennis player turned coach. She built her own tennis court in 2009, which has since become a centre of excellent for many of today’s young stars. Paritta Wangkiat meets former national tennis player Voranuch Intana.
Monday 31 December 2012, 02:27PM
When and why did you start playing tennis?
I began playing tennis in 1976 when I was in high school.
One of my favourite teachers played tennis at the tennis court in front of Phuket Provincial Hall. I often went to see her play until one day she asked me to help collect tennis balls.
My first coach saw me and asked me if I would like to join the training. He didn't charge me any fee. That's how I started.
How did your family react to you playing?
In the past, my family didn't want me to join the training because they thought sport was not as beneficial as doing chores. I used to tell them that I had an extra English class instead of telling them the truth that I actually went to play tennis.
In those days people used to think tennis was an activity for rich people, so they didn't send their kids to play tennis. It's true that this perception still exists today as there is considerable cost needed to cover the cost of equipment and training fee.
However, I think everyone can and should play tennis. It depends on the tennis court operators and if they decide to offer opportunities to young kids to try tennis.
Do you give such opportunities to kids?
Yes. Although I earn my living from teaching tennis, I can be flexible.
For example, some of my tennis trainers are from poor families and I decided to teach them for free to give them opportunities to have jobs on tennis court.
Sometimes I give discounts on the training fees in the case of kids whose parents may find it difficult to pay the fees. Many more Thai children will have the chance to play tennis if the fee was more flexible.
When did you build your own tennis court?
I always wanted to have my own tennis court. So I finally decided to rent land on Soi Ta-iad in Chalong to build my own tennis court, which officially opened in 2009.
I've invested B5 million, part of that money came from a bank loan. I can honestly say that it doesn’t generate much profit, but I do have a place where I can dedicate myself to teaching tennis in freedom.
I think as teaching tennis as my way to give something back to society, at least, it encourages kids to enjoy sport.
Tell us about your tennis career.
I won at least 30 single and double matches in both national and international competitions. I've been in the National Senior Tennis Player Team since 2007. Last month (November) I participated in the Asia Inter City match in Pattaya.
What has been your proudest moment in your career so far?
To see my students achieve playing tennis.
Some of my students have become top youth tennis players. Some have won national youth games.
When I teach, I also teach students social manners, kindness and the spirit of athletes. It makes me feel proud when I see them become good people as well as good tennis players.
What are the secrets of being a good tennis coach?
First of all, it's very important to teach my students with metta (the Buddhist principle of the cultivation of loving-kindness).
Metta is based on conducting oneself to be good to others, and others will behave well with you.
It's very adaptable to teaching kids play tennis because if you want kids to follow the lessons while continuing training, you must be a good model for them as well as be good with them.
In addition, it's very important to teach kids playing tennis according to their ages as different ages need different training styles.
Who tends to attend your tennis classes?
Recently, mixed-race kids have become a major group that has joined my tennis class. About 80 per cent of kids in my tennis classes are mixed-raced.
I think because more expats have come to live in Phuket they sent their kids to play tennis as it is popular worldwide.
Apart from tennis, is there anything else you are interested in?
Recently, I have become interested in meditation.
Though my life has been busy teaching and running my tennis court, I still need peace during any intervals I have.
What is your life goal?
I want to teach tennis to kids until I am not able to teach any more.
At that point, I want to retire and look for someone who can come to replace me, while I can be the back up.
For my tennis playing career, I will enter competitions until I have no more ability to play.
I love tennis. Tennis is my life.