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Lee Hyung-taik Makes It to Round of 16 at U.S. Open

Posted September. 04, 2007 07:45,   


South Korean tennis star Lee Hyung-taik often talks about his family. For the first time in seven years since he last made it to the round of 16 in a major tennis tourney, he powered into the round of 16 in the 2007 U.S. Open Championship on Sunday.

The modest tennis player attributed his success to his wife and children. When he first made it on the list of the world’s top 50 players at the end of last year, he also said something about his family: “I need to work harder for my children.”

Tears used to well up in the family-oriented tennis star’s eyes whenever he heard the word ‘family.’ Born as the youngest son after his two brothers in Gangwondo (Gangwon Province), he lost his father when he was just ten. He started playing tennis around then and left his hometown. He spent his student years in Yanggu and Wonju and later finished his high school in Chuncheon. He graduated from Konkuk University in Seoul afterwards. Even when he sometimes dropped by his hometown, he could not see his mother since she had to work in Seoul at a diner to make ends meet. He was mostly raised by his grandmother.

He put an end to his lonesome life when he married his wife Lee Soo-ahn in February 2004 after 10 years of dating. He was also blessed with a daughter in April 2006. However, his career as a tennis player was on the brink of collapsing to the point where he even considered retiring; he was out of the world’s top 100 and he was not getting along with his coach. In addition, his frequent trips aboard meant spending less time with his wife.

However, things began to work out for him when he became a father. Yoon Yong-il, a close mentor of his when he himself used to be a tennis player, became his new coach, and Lee’s performance began to improve. At the end of 2006, his ranking jumped to 49th from 107th earlier that year. To add to his joy, his son was born this August. An expert on child naming gave his son the name ‘Chang-hyeon.’ Leaving for the U.S. four days after watching his son’s birth, he is driving on without a stop at the U.S. Open. His two children are his lucky charm.

His wife Lee Soo-ahn smiled and said, “Since he is away most of the time, he wants to have a big family.”

Many say Lee is enjoying his second heyday in his thirties, ripe with more responsibility as a head of a family and more prepared for life.