An Insider's Look at Life on the Tennis Tour

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by Rae Dover
| 21/01/2021
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life on the tennis tour

Is That a Tennis Racket in Your Hand Luggage? 

Although the life of a professional athlete may sound glamorous, it’s far from a walk in the park. In fact, it’s anything but. Sure, you get to travel the world and compete in the sport which you love, which certainly beats being stuck in an office or working the night shift on an assembly line. But there’s a lot of things that go on away from the court that the general public just never see. In this post, we will run through some of the pros and cons of being a professional tennis player, and it will provide you with a clearer picture and a ‘behind the scenes’ look at what this life entails.

The Good Bits

Those lucky few that reach the top of the game certainly have a good life - an amazing life in fact. And of course, there’s a lot of fun to be had along the way. Here are the pretty awesome parts of playing on the top tennis ATP and WTA tours.

Global Travel

Since the ATP and WTA Tours are played all around the world, you get to travel to some rather nice parts of teh globe. You could say that the tours ‘follow the sun’, so if you are competing all year long, you are essentially traveling to awesome places in permanent summertime. Even the ITF Tour, the entry-level to professional tennis, has tournaments in places like Australia, Greece, Jamaica, and many others.

Friendships That You Make

It comes with the territory that when you travel around and play events all over the world, you’re going to meet people from many different walks of life. When traveling and playing on multiple continents, you’ll build life-long friendships with people from the likes of Brazil, the USA, Spain, Italy, and many others. Those that don’t have this opportunity simply wouldn’t create such a global friendship base.

Healthy Lifestyle

Since you are practicing and competing week in and week out, all of the habits that lead to bad health pretty much go out of the window. Of course, you will generally be in great shape if you are competing in professional tennis, but if you want to reach the top, habits like drinking, smoking, or bad diets are just a no-no. While this is true for most professional players, the emphasis on good health has really been raised with the COVID pandemic that has been causing havoc on the tour for almost a year now.

Constant Competition

It is in the blood of all of the top tennis players to crave competition, and this thirst to compete is quenched every week. We’ve all got those friends that just seem to want to win at everything, and to be fair, there is nothing sweeter than the taste of victory. With constant competition, you have the chance to get this feeling all the time - if you are successful!

The Not So Good Bits

The road to becoming a tennis professional can be rather bumpy, and once you are there, it can get even tougher. Here are some of the not-so-great elements of being a professional player.

The Pressure

Although many people work off the mind-set that pressure is a privilege, it can get pretty tiring after a while. If you work at a regular job, it’s perfectly natural that you are going to have your good and bad days in the office. But, unlike a regular job, in tennis, everybody wants to take their shot at glory, and naturally, this will come at the expense of others (maybe even you) - that’s pressure!

Your Income

Many people don’t know this, but unless you are within the top 200 in the world, you’re not making much money. In fact, you are probably breaking even if not losing money should you be outside of this range. And this brings another problem that we see in the sport of tennis today - corruption involving tennis betting. This is prominent among lower-ranked players, and there can even be organized crime groups that will approach players to throw matches with the promise of a percentage of the winnings.

This happens all the time with online sports betting through exchanges and other platforms, and it can ruin the purity of competition. One of the few examples of match-fixing involving top players would be the now infamous game of Davydenko vs Vassallo Arguello in 2007. Even though Davydenko was ranked 4th in the world, huge sums of money were staked against him through a new Russian account on Betfair. While no action was ultimately taken against him, Betfair voided all bets due to the suspicious betting patterns.

The Cost

In addition to the point above, if you’re not making much money with your tournament winnings, it can get pretty rough with the cost too. Just imagine, every week you need to book a flight, book a hotel, pay for food, travel, and more. This can amount to enormous expenditures over time, which is why many people simply drop-out if they can’t get sponsorship.

Playing in Empty Stadiums (Life in Corona times)

While fans have returned to stadiums for other sports, tennis is definitely not one of them. This means that when you are playing, there is no atmosphere, no cheering, and even larger matches don't quite have the same vibe. Of course, this is only true due to the current pandemic, but it certainly strips away one of the best elements of playing the game of tennis - the involvement of the fans.

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