Back in the days of old when people exalted the three main sports of baseball, football and basketball as the real sports of men (and now women), the game of tennis was sometimes made fun of. No contact and a net between the players, dressed in whites, no blood - no bruises. Not anymore.
It was certainly considered a game of fairness, it had to be when you’re asked to call your own lines or all hell would break loose - yes, a gentleman’s game.
If you look at tennis today it is certainly a game of special talents. Each player on the tour is expected to play pretty much year-round, be in the best physical shape possible, be able to hit off each side of their body with power and touch from the baseline, at the net, especially with serves and a solid return as well.
You better have a great game and a mind and soul of determination. Splash in a good dose of strategy, nutrition, knowing how to book flights and luggage around the world, money management, ways to get sponsors and hopefully the mental skill to succeed then you almost have what it takes to play the tour.
Let’s not forget the 10,000 hours of fundamentals, practice, match play, and junior success on a national level to have half a chance to even truly perceive the final step of division one college and professional tennis.
One last road-block is the possible situation of injury which can hinder at the least and possibly take you out of the game at the most, no matter who you are and how great.
Then once you’ve say made it into the top 200 in the world, better yet the top 120, where you’ll get into the main draws of the four majors, Australian - Wimbledon - French and U.S. Open, there’s a good living to be made.
But you’re only as good as your last match. No one is paying you a salary (unless you have good sponsorship and even that is based on results) unlike professional team sports. When you have an injury, or mental lapse, you’d better have a good savings account to see you through.
It’s expensive to run around the world with flights, hotel accommodations, food, paying for a coach and maybe a trainer, stringing racquets, and then on to the next stop.
If you happen to break into the top 15 or 20 players in the world today and can stay there a while, you’ve probably made it in life if you manage your money right. But it’s so easy to get derailed and you’re lucky if you get 10 good years in. Those players like Roger Federer are a very rare breed.
In the 70’s and 80’s they took a cross-section of athlete’s from different sports and had them compete in a variety of contests and guess who won more often than not - yep, the tennis player. Bjorn Borg was one of them as I recall.
So let’s put the myth of tennis players and the game of tennis in the right perspective, it’s really one of the toughest athletic encounters you’ll probably ever have to deal with where you are not physically punching someone’s lights out except the person across the net.
Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 45 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or firstname.lastname@example.org.