Layo≠ lets ex-reporter give tennis second shot
Like other junior tennis players of her caliber, Prim Siripipat once had dreams of hoisting a Grand Slam trophy in front of thousands of adoring fans. On her college bio at Duke, Siripipat wrote that her ultimate TV highlight would be of her “winning a major tournament like the U.S. Open.”
But injuries and a burgeoning broadcast journalism career altered those ambitions, and her competitive tennis career fizzled after college graduation, and with it came the sudden ending of a chapter that Siripipat started as a 7-year-old in Mexico, Mo.
Or at least that’s what she thought.
An unexpected layoff from ESPN in April has given Siripipat the chance to go all-in on professional tennis 15 years after competing in her last pro tournament.
This time, Siripipat said, she wants to end it the right way.
“I felt I didn’t go down fighting,” Siripipat, 36, said recently in a phone interview. “It was just so anticlimactic . . . . I started my career in broadcasting, and I never really took the time to properly say goodbye to the sport.”
It was around May of last year that a feeling of disappointment about how her tennis career ended began gnawing at Siripipat. When her then-fiance asked her whether she would play again if she had the opportunity to do it all over, Siripipat burst into tears.
So she began to train, fitting in tennis around her hectic TV schedule. She woke up at 4:50 a.m. for one to two hours of practice before heading to the ESPN campus in Bristol, Conn.
An hour of strength and conditioning would follow. Sometimes she would get home at 2 a.m., just hours before waking up and repeating the process.
Ben Aronson, whom Siripipat married in March, suggested that they film the journey for an upcoming documentary titled “Second Life.” Originally slated to finish in June, Siripipat plans to continue competing through the end of the year before reassessing.
“Had I stayed at ESPN, I probably would’ve ended the project in June, just because it was getting so difficult,” Siripipat said. “So I really do think that things happen for a reason. The universe or whoever you want to call it has a larger plan ahead of us, and I think I was definitely meant to do this in this period of my life.”
Siripipat splits her time between Connecticut and Wesley Chapel, Fla., where she trains at her old academy, Saddlebrook Preparatory School.
“I know that’s a very ephemeral goal,” Siripipat said. “It’s a feeling, and I don’t think I’ll know I’m there until I get to that point.”