By Clark Wilson
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Going away to college can be tough for any student, especially for someone who travels halfway across the world, such as Oklahoma tennis freshman Peerakit Siributwong.
Coming to Oklahoma has been a big adjustment for Siributwong, who hails all the way from Bangkok, Thailand. Not only has he had to adjust to becoming a collegiate student-athlete but also an American citizen.
"Here, it is a lot different than Thailand," said Siributwong. "Because back at home all I would play is tennis, but when I came here I have to do both, play tennis and study, and it's hard for me."
Traveling across the world to go to college has been a life-changing experience for Siributwong. There aren't a lot of similarities between Oklahoma and Thailand and it's something that the freshman is still trying to get used to.
"I live in Bangkok and it's a lot different than here. Here it's so quiet and there isn't a lot of people. When I arrived in Oklahoma I didn't know a lot of places to go and hang out but eventually I found places that I enjoyed and now I'm starting to get used to it."
Balancing both athletics and academics is difficult for any student-athlete, especially for those that attend a school as renowned as the University of Oklahoma. But it's something that Siributwong, also known as 'Duece' by teammates and coaches, is getting used to.
"I've had to try and manage my time better than before, and I have a lot of stuff to do. So, it's still hard for me to manage everything perfectly."
The sport of tennis is what brought him to the OU and the United States. Playing tennis is something that he has been doing his whole life with his family and it's what has gotten him to where he is today.
"I started playing tennis at the age of five because of my dad and my two brothers played a lot. It was something that I played everyday and my dad helped me get to the level I'm at."
Growing up playing with his father and brothers helped prepare Siributwong for tournament play against tough competition.
Prior to coming to Oklahoma, Siributwong was ranked as high as 13th in the International Tennis Federation and eventually knocked off the No. 1 player in the world, Yuki Bhambri, in straight-sets.
Playing well in major tournaments helped Siributwong become a hot commodity for all college coaches around the world, but it was Oklahoma head coach John Roddick that was able to get him to come to Norman and become a Sooner.
"Before I came here I played in big tournaments and I thought it was a good opportunity to come here and play for the tennis program. That's why I decided to come here because of John Roddick."
To most tennis players old or young the name Roddick is popular. Although the professional tennis player Andy Roddick gets more recognition than his brother and head coach John Roddick, John is still able to attract some of the best tennis athletes around the world.
Like most recruiting battles do, the final two teams to go after Siributwong were OU and OSU. But in the end it was the athletes and Roddick that made Siributwong want to call Norman his second home.
"My coach and I talked before I came here and he said that at OU they have better athletes and that they were bigger and were more experienced so that's why I decided to come here."
Being able to become a collegiate tennis player you have to set yourself apart from others when playing in tournaments. Growing up Siributwong was obviously able to do that effectively with beating the top-ranked player in the world, as well as playing in all of the major Grand Slam events and advancing to the semifinals of the 2008 US Open Junior Championships.
Even with all of those amazing accomplishments, Siributwong is still hungry to get better and improve. He believes there is a lot of things in his game that he needs to work on.
"I have problems with my serve and my volley. I came here to try and improve both of those things a lot. Since I've been here I've improved with my serve and my game has gotten a lot better," he said. "When I play, I don't go to the net a lot, so the coaches try to push me to get to the net and be aggressive."
Even with what he has accomplished so far in his athletic career, Siributwong still has a high ceiling and looks to capture more accomplishments and awards. Those are just some of the things that he has set his mind on.
"For tennis I want to be an All-American, that's one of my goals. If I can do it before I graduate that would be a big accomplishment for me."
Being an All-American and a professional tennis player are just some of Siributwong's goals. With the experiences of moving across the world and achieving athletic success in the process, there's no doubt that prominent individual hardware will be heading back to Thailand very soon.