Between the prize money and sponsorship deals, Roger Federer, arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, racked up $71.5 million, and that was just in 2013 alone. Hearing about all this fame and fortune leads many aspiring tennis greats to wonder just how they can break into the pro circuit and maybe be that successful, too. Although there's more than one way to become a professional tennis player, the people who reach that level share some methods, which you might want to incorporate if your goal is to become a pro.
Love the Game
To be a world-class tennis player means you need to live, eat and breathe tennis; maybe not literally, but you do need to devote your life to the sport. To do that, you must love tennis and pour your "heart and soul" into the game, according to the United States Tennis Association. Besides having natural talent and ability, you need to devote 10 years or 10,000 hours of intense training and competition to the sport. If you don't love the game, it's unlikely you can sustain the effort required to win matches at the pro level.
Although there are exceptions to the rule, most pro tennis players started when they were too young to remember a life without tennis. It's best to develop athleticism while still in the formative years. A coach guides a young player, helping her develop a foundation of solid tennis strokes that she uses throughout her tennis career. Entering junior tournaments gives future pro players experience with learning how to win points and ultimately matches, how to deal with nervousness and how to develop a strong mental approach to the game.
Tennis is a competitive sport, so to excel, top players typically have a staff of people helping them, such as a physiotherapist, a nutritionist and a racket stringer. If you want to become a pro, you need, at the very least, a coach and a hitting partner. You also need to travel to get to competitions. The Intercollegiate Tennis Association recommends that a junior player have a successful track record behind him before thinking about becoming a pro and that a player should ideally have $250,000 put away in an escrow account to afford the expenses required of pro tennis players. As of 2010, the average annual cost for playing on the pro circuit was $143,000.
Develop a Training Regimen
Tennis has been becoming increasingly popular throughout the world. Because the competition is intensifying, a potential pro player needs to step up her training routine to compete at peak level. Lauren Embree, a professional tennis player from Florida, told Stack magazine that she trains with her coach for an hour or so in the morning, followed by a match in the afternoon. She then works on fitness by doing plyometrics and footwork drills and working with weights for an hour.
- Forbes: How Roger Federer Makes $71 Million A Year
- USTA: Getting to the Pro Level
- Intercollegiate Tennis Association: Going to College or Turning Pro? Making an Informed Decision!
- The Wall Street Journal: Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Tennis Pros
- Stack: Interview -- Lauren Embree on Becoming a Pro Tennis Player
- Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images