Let’s assume for a moment you want to become a professional tennis player. Or maybe your kid wants to. Or maybe you want him/her to. What’s the first barrier to this? Well, obviously the player. Working your way up to performance is just as grueling as it sounds. You have to put in tens of hours of training a week. You have to be willing to give up parts of yourself, your free time and your energy to do it, if performance is your goal. But today, I wanted to talk to you about something which is even more of a barrier than the physical and mental effort required to get you through practice: money.
That’s right. The sheer amount of cash required to play tennis professionally is astounding. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of brilliant, talented young players who quit so early in the game because:
A. They can’t afford the classes;
B. They can’t afford the equipment;
C. They can’t afford to travel.
These talented kids never get to play tennis professionally, simply because it is too large an amount for their parents to pony up during their junior years, and so they never get to move on to the big league. It took me, Marius Copil, five years to make enough money as a professional player (not counting my junior years) to cover all my expenses. Indeed, APT will cover the expenses for your accommodation near the tournament grounds, but you have to put in the money for your coach and trainers, as well as their accommodation. And that can be anywhere between 10 000 to 15 000 EURO a month, and that can grow even higher, depending on your destinations or the number of consecutive tennis tournaments you are playing.
What does this amount to? First of all, one must understand that you need to find sponsors from your junior years. You will find that the well will run dry much sooner than you think if your only plan is to rely on mom and pop for coin. You will definitely need sponsors later on, too, and it is all the more a good idea to start working with some of them from your junior years. That way you build confidence and even trust between you and the people or companies that support you, which, like anywhere else in life, it will get you a very long way.
Now, you might be able to pull through a few years without actually attracting a big investment, but as soon as international tournaments start happening (and they will start happening fast, if you put your back into it) it will become an entirely different matter. If you have to travel with your coach or physical trainer, you will see how costs keep racking up.
Does this mean that you shouldn’t get into tennis in the first place, or quit while you’re ahead? Hell no. It means you need to grind your teeth and be strong, work harder and be an all the more social person. Who knows? Perhaps there’ll come a day when the state will start investing in sports again, start helping young people divvy up the costs of their favourite practice. That would be awesome. Until then: keep working!