Becoming a professional tennis player is a dream job for millions of enthusiasts worldwide. However, only a tiny fraction of hopeful players become a professional.
While it’s given that the road to becoming a pro takes blood, sweat, and dedication, it certainly isn’t impossible.
Learn how to become a professional tennis player today!
Table of Contents
6 Key Considerations If You Want to Become a Pro Tennis Player
1. Career Requirements
A professional player has sport-specific skills. The player needs a refined technique, excellent footwork, power, mental fortitude, flexibility, endurance, strength, and strategy, so the player must have started playing tennis young.
Their fitness levels are superior and show incredible feats of athleticism, dedication, and discipline, making sure you hit the tennis ball to a winner.
The player needs to have prior experience in playing tennis at amateur levels. These are competitive, ranked athletes who do not take cash prizes to play. Make sure to learn from a credible tennis instructor.
Professional athletes have a high school diploma. The player needs to know the sport, including rules, as it’s essential for advancement.
You can obtain private coaching from a professional player or enroll in an academy in the tennis world.
These academies provide the education needed for a player with amateur levels key skills to win at a junior tournament and other club tournaments to become a tennis professional.
The player needs to have a dedicated coach to tailor a program suitable for his physical capabilities and playing style.
Self-training won’t be enough to become a professional tennis athlete because of the competition. So it’s inevitable you are going to hit a plateau.
- Salary (2021)
The highest-paid tennis athlete is Roger Federer, who earns 6.3 million U.S. dollars in prize money from championships and 100 million U.S. dollars from endorsements. (1)
However, an average professional tennis athlete earns $113,478 annually. Thus, tennis offers very competitive salaries.
Ultimately, the success of the player determines how much money the athlete makes.
2. Junior Tennis
The journey of all professional tennis athletes begins with being an exceptional junior player by winning junior tournaments.
At this age, beginner players begin to develop at different speeds, meaning it’s not yet viable to determine whether the player becomes a professional tennis athlete or not.
However, there are key signs of a rising star, and those are advanced hand-eye coordination skills, natural footwork, and athleticism. They can easily be spotted by other tennis athletes at the amateur or junior athlete level.
Start playing in junior Zone Advancement Tournaments as you’ll have the opportunity to accumulate poi
- You need to champ up after the ZATs. It happens only after you have successfully accumulated a certain amount of tennis points from winning the matches.
- It’s essential to invest time in playing more tournaments as it increases your chance to advance to more prestigious events.
- Become a super champ so that you can attend national tournaments. You’ll be referred to as one of the best junior players in your country when you do. You’ll be qualified to play worldwide tournaments, such as Junior U.S. Open.
3. College Tennis
College tennis is a path for plenty of pro tennis players to gain high-level, competitive experience at a young age, giving you an advantage over other tennis players.
Players at this stage usually get a full college scholarship, which takes away the financial burden of paying tuition fees or taking student loans.
The players compete in the inter-college tennis matches, ITF, and futures matches before these players can progress to the ATP Tour.
Examples of exceptional college tennis players who became a professional later on are John Isner, Steve Johnson, and Kevin Anderson.
- To gain full college scholarships, you need a winning record on court and have good academic grades, meaning you have to hit the books as much as the courts.
- Win prominent tournaments, like the junior Wimbledon, to increase the chances of getting a full scholarship.
- The top tennis programs for men are the University of Southern California and Baylor University. Meanwhile, it’s Duke University and Vanderbilt University for women.
4. Futures Matches
These Future level tournaments are ITF-run events that aim to bridge the gap between junior games and senior professional games.
The Futures matches are open for tennis players who are above 14 years old, so there are times wherein you can see the mismatches in terms of the matches.
However, the futures matches deliver a good platform for young tennis players who want to become pro tennis athletes by getting plenty of match play experience as they’ll be exposed to different playing styles.
- You need to have an ITF Pin number, which you can through the ITF website. After which, look for several $10,000 tournaments that are close to your city.
- Look for a large qualifying draw, so it’s best to look for a 64 or a 128 qualifying draw. As a general rule, the larger the tournament, the bigger the chance you can get in.
- You need to come in early for the qualifying registration. The entries for the open spots follow a first-come, first-serve basis. Ranked players are more likely to get into the qualifying.
5. Challenger Matches
The challenger tour hosts the ATP and ITF events, and the players are the young professionals and the veterans returning from injury.
If you can succeed on the challenger tour, the chances of becoming a pro tennis athlete are high.
These challenger tournaments are full of promising young athletes looking to gain match experience and garner valuable ranking points. But, of course, the prize money is a bonus as well.
Some tennis athletes drop the regular tour to the Challenge tour to have the competitive match play and hopefully build a winning streak.
By doing so, boosts confidence and helps the player on the ATP tour.
- The challenger tournaments deliver anywhere between 80 and 125 ranking points for the winner. Meanwhile, the prize money is between $40,000 and $250,000.
- Tennis athletes who are hopeful of making significant strides in the ATP rankings need to take advantage of the Challenger tournaments to earn high-level match experience.
- Keep in mind that the Challenger tour is on the same date as the regular ATP Tour, meaning you can combine travel and cost of accommodation when you are competing in a series of events.
6. ATP World Tour
To become a pro tennis athlete, you need to be on the court regularly and compete in the ATP World Tour.
It is where you’ll receive big jumps in prize money and ranking points. ATP World Tour is where notoriety is made.
The competition will be the hardest you’ll ever experience.
Plenty of low-ranked players are matched against high-ranking, professional tennis players in the earlier tournament rounds.
Breaking through the rankings of the ATP tour to secure a regular spot in the rankings is difficult as you are facing hundreds of players who have the same goal in mind.
For a player to make a significant living from the ATP Tour, the tennis player needs to consistently compete at the highest levels for years, which only a few people can do.
- You need to spend millions of hours on the tennis court to break through to the ATP World Tour tournament.
- Take tennis lessons from prominent coaches. You should play national tournaments, professional tournaments, and tennis events sanctioned by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and tennis academies.
- Professionals will play against young players in this tournament, so you need to be confident you are giving your 100% in tennis training with your tennis team.
It takes ten years of hard work to become a professional tennis player. However, for some others, it can only take seven years to become a professional tennis player.
It’s going to take a lot of discipline and athleticism hopeful professional tennis players to reach this point. Still, it’s certainly not impossible, especially if you are working with many professional tennis players to help you.
It costs around $140,000 to become a competitive tennis player annually. The amount already covers the $70,000 for coaching and the cost of travels at $60,000 for playing tennis.
The cost may be lesser or higher depending on where you live, how many competitions you join, and other factors.
Yes, it’s hard to become a professional tennis player. However, you need to have started playing tennis young as you are competing with millions of other aspiring professionals who are after competitive salaries playing in tennis.
Begin tennis lessons at a young age to start aiming your pro athlete career early on.
You need to win junior tournaments, enroll in a tennis academy, and win international ITF junior tournaments before you can be part of USTA’s professional circuit.
Key Takeaways on Becoming a Professional Tennis Player
To become a professional tennis player, you have to begin playing when you are still young. So it’s important to enroll yourself in a tennis academy that’s prestigious for developing junior players. Or pursue private coaching.
A tennis player’s success is all about starting from a junior, and amateur level as USTA offers junior tournaments. You play tennis to compete in junior ranking against younger players and become a junior athlete showing promise.
There are year-round training opportunities, and taking those is the first professional tennis player step to become well-known in professional sports.
Keep in mind that most professional tennis players have coaches provide tennis training to become the elites in this sporting match.