Biofile: Hyung Taik Lee

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: Former ATP player won 2003 Sydney ATP title. Highest career ranking was 36 in 2007. Retired in 2009 and now operates Lee Hyung Taik Tennis Academy in Gangwon Province. Has career wins against Ferrero, Ferrer, Canas, Murray, Llodra, Schuettler, Ivanisevic.

DOB: Jan. 1, 1976 In: Seoul, South Korea

Childhood Heroes: “I looked up to Sampras – his game and his demeanor on the court.”

Hobbies/Interests: “Golf. I just start playing.”
Favorite Movies: “Action movies, comedy movies. A Korean movie called – I can’t remember the title – it’s about 1950s, about Korean War, about special forces, how it was formed, how they’re trained, and how they stand up to North Korea to fight against North Koreans.”

Musical Tastes: “Korean dancing music, pop.”

Early Tennis Memory: “When I play very last match in junior event (age 18). It was the biggest tournament for me at the time. And I never lost to my opponent – he was from my same high school. Never lost to him at that point. My mother came, made me nervous and I end up losing the match. Made me very upset. So that’s a most memorable tennis memory I have. It was very first match my mother came to watch (me) play. And I want to win so bad, and want to do so well. And I ended up loss at the end.

Did you ever win in front of mom?: “I still haven’t won a match in front of mother yet [smiles]. And that’s probably why I don’t let my mother come and watch me play.”

Pre-Match Feeling: “Always try and focus on trying my best. Trying to play my best tennis. And staying on my gameplan. And don’t give up until…to always try the hardest.”

Favorite Meal: “Korean food particularly. Korean beef dishes. Also like seafood.”

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Vanilla.”

Childhood Dream: “When I started, I wanted to play Davis Cup tennis as a player.”
What inspired that dream?: “I see all the Korean Davis Cup players wearing nice clothes, the environment…always wanted to be a Davis Cup player.”

Greatest Sports Moment: “When I got to the 4th round of U.S. Open four years ago against Sampras (in 2000). And when I won Sydney in 2003 (d. Ferrero 46 76(6) 76(4)).”
You had a wonderful run in 2000 at the U.S. Open, can you re-tell it?: “I lost in the last round of qualies in Bronx. Got in the (Bronx) main draw as a lucky loser. And I won Bronx (d. Willems). And I play qualifying at U.S. Open, and I qualified. And beat Jeff Tarango, Squillari, Schuettler and lost to Sampras.”

Most Painful Moment: “When I was injured in beginning of ’98. I couldn’t play anything for three months. Trying to rehab shoulder. But now my toughest part is traveling, jet-lag, hotels.”

Closest Tennis Friends: “The guy who beat me last junior match, that’s my best friend. (How about on the ATP Tour?) A lot of Asian players, Paradorn. Andre Sa I like.”

Funniest Players: “Because of lack of English I don’t talk to many of the players. So I don’t know their senses of humor and who’s funny.”

Toughest Competitors: “The guys with big serves usually give me a hard time. Wayne Arthurs – I’m 0-2 against him. It’s not only hard to beat him it’s so difficult to play him.”

Favorite Players To Watch: “Agassi – very flawless, very smooth style on the court.”

Favorite Athletes To Watch: “Ernie Els – I just start to play golf, I like his technique, so smooth. Michael Jordan of course. Alex Rodriguez. Tyson. Michael Schumacher. I like to see a lot of Olympic events, tae kwon do, judo.”

First Job: “Working as a player, Samsung Tennis Team. I get salary since 1995.”

First Car: “Samsung car (white).”

Favorite Holiday Spot: “I don’t know where, somewhere near ocean.”

Funny Tennis Memory: “When I was in 6th grade, I play for my province Gangwon – it’s a province in Korea. I was representing to play for my province in team event. And there are five singles players and I thought I was going to be able to play. But I end up not playing. The coach wouldn’t let me play. And my team ended up losing the finals. Because I feel so bad – after everybody left – I was still on the court, crying, staring on the court [smiles]. Because had I played, I was sure I was going to win and our team was going to win.”

Speaking of funny, you were the opponent in the infamous 2000 Brighton, England match where Goran Ivanisevic had to default for breaking all of his racquets. What happened in that match?: “I won the first set and broke him and was winning the second set. It wasn’t line calls or anything. Just the fact that he was losing to me. He was frustrated how I was playing. I was returning pretty well. I was very, very surprised. I didn’t know he would get defaulted. It was the first time that I play somebody who broke all their racquets [smiles]. But it was a great win for me, the first time that I beat somebody that big. The best win of my career – at that point. It was very funny, but unusual.”

People Qualities Most Admired: “I like people with a sense of humor. I know a lot of comedians in Korea. Because I like people with a sense of humor.”

Translation assistance by: Hee-June Choi

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  • Duke Carnoustie · September 21, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    Juicy stuff in Maria’s book about how she fell in love for Grigor and how he pursued her. Cute story and fascinating to see these crazy kids.



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