Tennis

Tennis player’s year is long.

We have matches every week and tournaments every week all over the world. Less ranked you are- more tournaments you play.

To catch up with ranking, to try to gain more money and all that.

People like me who play singles and doubles, play two matches a day. If the tournament is successful, you play Monday to Sunday,

then travel overnight and start next one on Monday again, or if you are lucky Tuesday morning.

Higher ranked players have luxury of competing 20-24 weeks per year, lower ranked do 32-35 to be able to gain some money and continue to try to gain ranking.

Honestly professional tennis system is not created really fair, it is very hard to get to the top. The ones who get there rarely get out of there, cause the point difference on small tournaments

compared to big ones is sensational. Also the difference in prize money and coasts is significant.

On bigger tournaments in WTA and ATP tour, your hotel room is paid, mostly breakfast and lunch is covered for you and your coach too, you are

always picked up from the airport or train station, it becomes luxury sport, you start to enjoy what you do and feel professional. Nobody there is traveling without a team or at least a coach.

Different story is lower tournaments and ITF circuit, street tennis as I call it.

Players rarely travel with coaches as it is too expensive, nothing is covered and often the official hotel of the tournament is so expensive that even if you win it, you still can not

pay for it. So players are used to find cheaper places to stay and AIRBNB is very useful. Cheaper places to eat. And even this is obstacle, as more and more tournaments are not allowing athletes to practice on site anymore if they don’t stay in officially provided hotel, that coasts more then usual to rip off players who don’t gain money 🙂

Our sport is beautiful, but there are many invisible subjects which are not talked about. Like: Most of the players outside of top 200 travel with only 100 dollars in their pockets, play club matches in 3 different countries which is additional 15-18 matches in a month added to professional tournaments, travel separately to all this on prize money tournaments, which

also adds up to traveling hours and matches and physical fatigue. All the humiliation you are facing, as sometimes it feels ridiculous to carry 3 suitcases on the subway stairs in the middle of

Paris when you are actually 200 ranked player, in the world! of the one of the most elite sports on the planet, you work physically over 5 hours a day 7 days a week, without day off or vacation and still can not afford an uber. 🙂

Harsh reality… Many quit, cause it is too hard and sometimes it feels useless trying.

Also nobody speaks about players, who skip a meal a day to have enough money till the end of the week, who don’t restring the rackets(which is by the way very important for a tennis player), players who are gold for German and French league matches, ex USSR players, who are non Europeans and play matches almost for free to gain some extra bucks and club presidents who are not willing to pay on time…

There are many things not talked about, sometimes it is very disturbing. The fights I went through in past 12 years are absurd, sometimes when I think of all this, half of them don’t

even sound true to me anymore, sometimes I can not process how people can come up with things and arguments that come out of their mouth.

Also nobody speaks out loud about tournament organizers, who use young, poor, vulnerable tennis players and their material situation to try to seduce them for a free accommodation. Nobody says it all out loud, no one likes to talk about it, but this things happen. So this sport is not as beautiful as it seems from a first sight. In fact is way more cruel then you can imagine.

Somehow it is also like a drug, once you bought into it and started playing, once you realized you are not that bad, something always moves you forwards and does not let go. No matter how hard it gets. You get up motivated for practice, you find twenty thousand ways to travel cheaper to afford to play, you still watch millions of videos and matches to learn something new, something better. You go through social medias and web sites of big stars to see how they practice, what they do, hoping that you can find something useful. You read many books about mechanics, sports, psychology.

There is always something that moves you forward.

Also it is very ungrateful sport, because it is pretty much the only sport where you are mostly loser. And it is true. Chances that you will win even half of 35 weeks in the year are almost 0, so basically you move from losing to losing, with your head held high, practicing the day after losing. Sometimes it is really hard, and sometimes the opposite. Because you love what you do.

Once you start to play tennis, you are in long term relationship with it. This sport becomes your passion, your life, your job, your hobby, your family. You truly love it and you can not imagine your life without it, you are ready to sacrifice almost everything you have for it, and you do the most crazy things for it. It is very obsessive, very dominant feeling. Like in every difficult long term relationships you always have this down moments, this break up moments, you think that you will quit, find a decent job, where you will finally get paid for what you do, but then one good match happens, one good day and you are back on track.

It is very cruel and difficult sport, but also it has very many beautiful features.

Winning, the beauty of the world you see while you travel, the good people you meet, fulfillment of a good practice, different cousins, beautiful sunsets, incredible sport facilities, satisfaction of hard work, first win, emotions, first big tournament, first tour event, first grand slam, first titles… many beautiful features, but I will talk about them later… Today I just wanted to share just a brief introduction, to not such a beautiful part of my lovely sport, as the beauty of it is too easy to see.

Have a nice week

ავტორი: Sofia Shapatava

I am tennis player, who travels the world. I want to share stories about my personal experiences, travels and a lot of other things. I have a lot to share and I am willing to share. I want to write the ugly and pretty things that happened to me along the way, throughout of my ten year travels and my life in general. Hope it will be fun. :)

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