The Tennis Bros Guide To Becoming A Professional Tennis Player

Whether you are a junior with big aspirations or a parent of a young player with real potential, our guide on becoming a professional tennis player will unquestionably help your journey.

Becoming a professional tennis player takes skill, discipline, incredible dedication, and a fair share of luck but nonetheless, all tennis professionals have universally followed key steps in their rise through the ranks.

Let’s take a look at the path to professional-level tennis with 8 key steps to the top!

Becoming A Professional Tennis Player Is Hard

Yes, it is stating the obvious, but becoming a professional tennis player is hard, which is exactly why you need a clear roadmap and a vision of what the journey looks like. In the uber-competitive world of professional tennis merely having talent is not enough and hoping that skill alone will be enough will see you fall short. 

No, you need to have certain fundamentals covered, and while the road to professional tennis is an arduous one, breaking down the journey into key phases and principles helps.   

Here, we have you covered in our essential guide to becoming a tennis professional.   

The Key Stepping Stones To Becoming A Tennis Professional  

As spectators, we always see the end result. We see majestic arenas, the pristine grass of Wimbledon, and players hoisting trophies each week. It looks amazing and for a few players, it is.

But for every professional you see on television, we often only see the culmination of what has been years of discipline, focus, and hard work, with hours and days spent playing on far less glamorous courts and grinding in gyms. 

So, let us start at the start and plot our way to hopefully the biggest stages in world tennis. 

Step 1: Nurturing Passion and Fun 

Let us make a big statement. No elite-level professional tennis player has arrived at the top by treating tennis as a job. No, they all have a genuine, deep-rooted love for the sport even though it is often disguised when things go awry. 

This love is born from playing as a junior, the simple joy that comes from hitting a tennis ball, free from the kind of pressures that will inevitably follow. Before they can consider much loftier goals, a young tennis player simply has to love the sport and have fun – there is ample time for pressure, and it does not need to be applied immediately. 

And if you are reading this as someone who is completely new to tennis, let our introduction to beginning this great sport guide you along.    

Without a genuine affection for tennis, it is almost impossible for a player to consider becoming a professional. Ultimately, tennis will test your every resolve and without an intrinsic love for the sport, a player will quit long before they get anywhere near the paid ranks. 

Competition is fierce at all levels, long before becoming a professional, and facing adversity without a genuine passion makes it very easy to burn out. So, our advice at the very outset is to treat tennis, certainly in the formative years, as simply fun – the intensity and drama can and will follow later on. 

At this stage make tennis fun and play games without consequence, simply allowing an organic passion for tennis to blossom. 

Step: 2 – Growing And Knowing The Game 

Once tennis has become a passion and a real source of fun it is time to choose the best racket and dive a little deeper into the game. 

For juniors of all ages, there are a host of options available that help with getting to know the game, with each one catering to the age and ability of each player as we discovered in our piece on tennis court dimensions. Furthermore, at this early stage, the emphasis remains on fun while carefully introducing the game’s rules and regulations. 

Tennis clubs are especially eager to cultivate a new generation of players and many offer group sessions at weekends and during school holidays that focus on fun, friendly competition, and socializing. 

In England, the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) lists the nearest tennis facilities to any location with the USTA also doing the same for North America. And irrespective of where in the world you are located, there should be a governing body whose website will suggest local clubs where you can enroll in junior programs and sessions. 

Ultimately, this stage is about the careful development of each player. Many clubs do an excellent job of nurturing young players to a stage where they also start to understand the rules of tennis and the all-important concepts of etiquette, respect, and being social.

Step 3: Prioritize Health 

This is the perfect time to convey that health is a cornerstone that should underpin becoming a tennis professional, even for juniors, if only to establish fitness as a fundamental habit and mindset that will become increasingly important throughout the tennis journey. 

Youngsters are bundles of energy and it often appears that they are made from rubber such is their ability to bounce back after exertion. But because of this, it is so easy to overlook fitness work away from the court.

While we do not wish to overload young, developing bodies, we need to be conscious that careful ‘off-court’ fitness work (both physical and mental) is hugely beneficial. Light cardio, stretching, and band work will help keep bodies ‘tennis ready’ and will contribute to success and longevity in competition. There is a myriad of ways in which we can hone mental sharpness too – not overlooking the importance of rest and eating well. 

Tennis is a very physically and mentally demanding sport and many players succumb to injury and burn-out. If we can develop a strong culture of self-care early, the prospect of future success is greatly enhanced and we have a comprehensive range of resources to help you along.    

Step 4: Coaching 

Coaches have almost become as famous as players, such is the pivotal nature of their role. Coaches like the late Nick Bollitieri (Andre Agassi’s coach) and social-media sensation Patrick Mouratoglou (coach to Serena Williams and Holger Rune) have become household names, often overseeing a player’s complete development from junior to professional ranks. 

So, as you consider becoming a professional tennis player careful consideration has to be given to who you choose as your mentor.

You will inevitably spend a great deal of time and indeed money with a coach and the fit has to be right. You have to believe in their philosophies, understand their approach and have good chemistry. Given that a player/coach dynamic can be a lot like a marriage, you have to choose well. 

Of course, there are exceptions with players like Nick Kygrios shunning the intervention of a coach and you can always look to our excellent courses to either replace or supplement having a coach, but going without a mentor is very much the exception and if Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal elected to employ coaches throughout their careers, very few could and should follow Nick’s example.

Step 5: Tournament Play As An Amateur   

Tournament play is the ultimate objective and the arena in which we will discover if our love for tennis is genuine. It’s the moment we discover if our hard work, and ability, are effective. Plus, most of all it is the test that determines if we have the ingredients to become a professional tennis player.

Informal matches with friends and fellow club members are a solid starting point and a nice introduction to hitting shots under pressure. We are big advocates of playing any form of competitive tennis and getting acquainted with what tactics, routines, and adaptations are required for you to play optimal tennis in the heat of competition. 

The real test, however, is playing in organized tournaments against unfamiliar opponents and in new locations, possibly on different surfaces from what you are accustomed to. In England, the LTA offers structured tournaments for every stage of junior tennis, right up until a player is eligible to enter senior tournaments, as with the USTA in America

We encourage anyone who is seriously considering becoming a professional tennis player to embrace as many opportunities as possible to play in organized tournaments. Experience with differing conditions and playing styles will reveal a lot about your game and the feedback will be invaluable as you strive to understand your strengths and weaknesses. 

Tennis is a multifaceted sport that tests body and mind and there is nothing like competition to uncover our true potential. And as the saying goes, ‘iron sharpens iron’ and mixing things up with better players will give you essential feedback.

Step 6: Becoming A Tennis Professional 

To be brutally honest, few players get to this stage, and for those who do, much will have gone right in their progression. A player will have developed a strong skill set. They will have enjoyed good health and have been coached well. And this will not be an overnight success either. 

Within the context of this article it may feel like the path to professional tennis is formulaic and quite simple. But to document every aspect leading to this stage would fill a whole book. Rather, we are addressing the key fundamentals and we must not underestimate the unrelenting amount of hard work, travel, sacrifices, and the emotional tariff that underpins the journey to this stage – not to forget having real ability.

However, if you find yourself on the cusp of becoming a professional tennis player, a demanding journey thus far is about to get exponentially tougher. 

It is one thing playing for bragging rights, pride, or a regional trophy, it is something completely different playing for your livelihood. This is an unprecedented level of pressure that sees tennis morph from a fun game into something far more serious. And with many players at the lower tiers of professional tennis struggling financially, an iron-clad mindset is required to cope with this unparalleled pressure.  

Furthermore, every player will start their professional life on the lowest tier, the ITF Tour where purses and facilities are incredibly modest and a light years away from the privileges enjoyed by the game’s elite. There are no courtesy cars, no complimentary accommodations or masseurs, nor a legion of stringers. No, players at this level have to fund every aspect of their existence and nearly always, many players will leave a tournament having made a net loss for that weak, being richer only in experience.

Skill will carry a professional player so far, but resilience and belief will often be the intangible factors that separate winners from losers. The resilience to handle a variety of pressures and yet perform, the belief to handle defeat in foreign countries and yet back yourself to rebound and win again.

Step 7: Joining The Elite 

If few players graduate to the professional ranks, even fewer ascend to the very top, but for those who do make it through the ITF and then the Challenger Tour, a whole new world of opportunity awaits them, but so do the very best players in the world.  

We can only dream about being a professional at this level but thanks to the brilliant Netflix documentary ‘Break Point’ documentary, we now have real insight into what always appeared to be a luxurious world, but is in actuality an insanely pressurized and fraught one. 

Obviously, we cannot really give advice to any player of this caliber, but we can say with confidence that the dream of being the next Novak or Iga should be within every young player with real talent and passion. Similarly, however, players and parents can be under no illusion about the many challenges that lie ahead on the climb to the pinnacle of tennis. 

Step 8: Having A Plan B 

We do not want to end this piece on a negative note, but we cannot fixate on a dream without tempering things with a dose of reality.

But bear with us, it is not completely bad news. 

For those who do not make the grade a life within tennis is still very doable. Talented players are always in demand and for some, they find themselves as part of another professional’s team. Goran Ivanisevic is a big part of Novak Djokovic’s entourage while former players Stefan Edberg and Ivan Ljubicic partnered with Roger Federer,  And today, you will see Australian former player Mark Phiippoussis can be found within the camp of Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Then there is the option to be a professional hitter, available for hire at tournaments or even dedicated to following a specific professional around the world. Hitters are accomplished players who serve as ‘hitting partners’ to elite players during tournaments, a fascinating way of getting court time with the game’s very best! 

And if the nomadic life is not your thing, you can be a stay-at-home coach working for a local club or authority. With the advent of social media, some very good players are leveraging their skill set and ability to make online content on platforms such as Instagram and YouTube to generate healthy revenue streams.

So, should the ultimate dream fail to materialize, do not assume that this means the end of a life in tennis – you always have options.  

Conclusion: Becoming a Professional Tennis Player  

We say that if you are young, love tennis passionately, and have the ability, then dream big. It is a long road and while few ascend to playing at Wimbledon or in the US Open, it is absolutely possible. And without a doubt, the Tennis Bros will be your companion and cheerleader at every step of the way. 

From choosing the optimum racket to helping with your forehand and footwork we are always on hand to help with every aspect of your game. We would love nothing more for one of our readers and customers to become a major tennis star. 

So, if you are reading this and one day go on to win Roland Garros, please mention the Tennis Bros in your interview!!

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