How much does it cost to be a pro tennis player?

Discussion in 'Pro Tennis (Mens)' started by britbox, Jan 7, 2017.

  1. britbox

    britbox Multiple Major Winner

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    For those wondering, this was suggested by Laurence Shanet, a former College/Satellite Tennis Player and pro stringer.

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    There is a huge variation in this area, and the term "professional" encompasses a lot of players. At the very least, there are about 1500 players each on the ATP and WTA computers. For those competing below the main tour level, the costs are quite different, but I will address the question from the point of view of an active main tour player (let's say top 50 or so), rather than one who goes to satellites and/or challengers. At this level, Keith's estimate is not at all unlikely. Clearly, the lower ranked the player, the less he/she can afford to spend on trainers, travel, and other expenses. Also, if a player employs a coach, this doubles many expenses, as the player is expected to pay for all of the coach's travel expenses as well.

    Travel - This is typically between $50,000 and $150,000 PER PERSON, depending on which events are played, where they're located, and how fancy the accommodations. Here, things like level of hotels used and whether the player flies economy, business class, or private can have a huge impact on the bottom line. Also, some tournaments do pay a per diem to cover some or all of the hotel costs. However, this amount varies by the tournament and by the player. It also varies greatly based on whether the player has to pay for other team members (coach, trainer, physio, spouse/partner, etc.). Also, some tournaments pay lucrative guarantees to the marquee players that helps offset expenses and then some. In fact, these guarantees are often larger than the prize money on offer.

    Food - While this is subsidized in some cases by the tournaments, there are still lots of costs when you're not actually at the tournament hotel, or on the tournament grounds. And again, this varies greatly by how fancily you like to eat. Costs can be anywhere from $5,000 a year to $30,000 a year. Again, this is per person, and is multiplied by the number of people in the entourage, since the player is expected to pay for coach, trainer, physio, etc.

    Coaching - The starting salaries for professional tennis coaches at the ATP main tour level are probably in the $50,000 per year range, plus any expenses. However, most have bonus clauses in their contracts based on the player's performance, and top level coaches are often paid as a percentage of the player's earnings (10-15%), so the cost of employing one may be as high as $1-1.5 million for the top few players. Most fall somewhere in between. This doesn't include the additional costs the elite players pay out for trainers, physios, additional coaching, etc.

    Stringing and customization - This varies, depending on how far a player gets in each tournament, but can be anywhere from $5,000 - $40,000 a year. While most pros at least get their racquets free, they generally have to pay for stringing. And some of them pay a hefty annual sum to a private stringing and customization service to keep their gear consistent and in tip top shape.

    Other expenses - In addition to all of the above expenses, there are quite a few additional things that can slip through the cracks. They include ground transportation within the destination cities and transfers, tournament penalty fees, fines, clothing and additional equipment for non-sponsored players, medical expenses and massage.

    So in the end, a top 50 player will spend anywhere from $100,000 - $2,000,000 in expenses, with many in the $150,000 - $500,000 range.
     
  2. Moxie

    Moxie Multiple Major Winner

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  3. Denis

    Denis Masters Champion

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    I've always wondered whether the top 50-100 range players travel first class. Must be a bitch sitting in coach +60x times a year.
     
  4. britbox

    britbox Multiple Major Winner

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    I'd guess, not many - particularly if they have other team members in tow. Berdych just tweeted on the plane to Melbourne and it looked like he was in economy, and he's generall a top 10er.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Billie

    Billie Nole fan
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    Well that is not a very good argument. I would like to do a lot of expensive things in life too, but I can't. Should I complain about it?
     
  6. Moxie

    Moxie Multiple Major Winner

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    I don't understand your point, Billie. It's not a question of whether tennis players want to take exotic vacations to Shanghai, Rome, Madrid and Shenzhen. It's that they need to travel to do their jobs. And it's expensive. As is having a coach, and paying for said coach to travel, lodge, etc. And the airlines, hotels, taxis and restaurants don't give discounts because a player is female and makes less. Any woman who can't afford to go to an event to try to qualify is already counting her losses in points and revenue. Under Federer and Nadal on the players' council, the monies in the men's game were reapportioned to give a greater share to the earlier rounds, specifically to benefit keeping good players playing, and getting a chance to make headway in their careers. The notion of equal pay at coed tournaments helps women at the lower end keep playing, which enriches the pool of players, and improves the game.
     
  7. Billie

    Billie Nole fan
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    It's not like we don't (or young players don't) know or didn't know at the start of their careers that tennis is a cheap sport. Everybody going in must be aware that it is very hard to succeed. I just don't buy your argument that they should receive more money because they are struggling to cover their costs. And this goes for any tennis player, male of female. It's a fancy sport and not everybody can manage to do it successfully. In fact there is probably more tennis players that have to give it up because it is too expensive for them and they just aren't good enough to earn enough. It is a harsh reality. I feel more for ordinary people who work hard to feed their families and often times don't succeed. How do they manage? Nobody campaigns for them to raise their minimal wages.
     
  8. Moxie

    Moxie Multiple Major Winner

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    Well, actually people do actively campaign to raise the minimum wages of the working people, but that's a different argument. The point about tennis, and the health of the sport, which you must love, or you wouldn't be here, is that there is a LOT of money in the sport. And any pool of talent is better when more talented people can be allowed to contribute. This is good for the sport, and ultimately, for all players, because the more talented the players, the more interest the sport will generate. And not just at the top echelon, but at the middle levels, as well, to keep a real level of competition. If really interesting players, and players from countries that don't have strong federations backing them, can't make enough to stay in the game, the sport suffers. A better distribution of prize money helps solve that. Is that really hard to understand? It's not like the top players need more than the many millions they already have. But if starting players can't get a toe-hold in, they'll have to quit, and the talent pool is thereby reduced.
     
  9. Billie

    Billie Nole fan
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    It has its advantages and disadvantages. I guess I think a little difficulty in life can make you stronger, makes you want to fight harder. But you have valid points. Not all can be great champions and kids should be given opportunities to showcase themselves.
     
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  10. Denis

    Denis Masters Champion

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    Lol no way this was a long haul flight, it must have been short haul. Can't see berdys wife travelling in the back waiting for the microwaved box to be dropped on her lap by the cabin crew.
     
  11. britbox

    britbox Multiple Major Winner

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    Ha... probably. I think that was short haul from Adelaide. I guess most of the top guys will go business class for long haul between Europe/US/Oz but I reckon most apart from the really big names might slum it in economy for shorter haul.
     
  12. britbox

    britbox Multiple Major Winner

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    Dustin Brown used to travel in a camper van if I remember rightly to save cash.
     
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