Part 2

French Open 2014

Its very scary to start a career that demands a lot of sacrifices.

In my case it was sacrificing my time with my family, all I had money vise, and calmness.

In some cases health.

As I said my sister helped me a lot in a way she could when I started playing tennis, as I also said her resources were not great as well.

As I started 2008 year’s season, I planned couple of tournaments which were closer to Georgia.

Turkey, Russia, Armenia.. Cheaper countries like Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan.

Only couple of European trips. Also that time our visas were even more difficult then they are now, we needed separate visa for Germany, Italy, France and etc.

My travel calendar was not rich and every time I went to the tournament I was actually obliged to make some sort of result, cause if I did not, I would not pay for that trip.

Honestly right now, I can not do so anymore. When I was 19, I did everything way better under the pressure.

First year was the easiest year of my career, I was still very confident (less you know, more confident you are). My sister usually gave me 100-150 dollars and rest I had to make myself.

Also there was a lady who worked in tour agency that wanted to help me out, she bought me tickets, actually she just took me tickets and I paid her back slowly. Sounds pathetic, honestly again, looking back at it, I would not do it again. But I really wanted to play. You do what you gotta do right?

So I traveled on number of tournaments, played singles and doubles, tried my best to learn how to spend less money. It was tough to save some, cause I never traveled before so I did not know how to manage money good. Did not know how to save on tickets, food. How to find cheaper hotels.

I did everything as in fact sheet of the tournament and honestly the information on tournament fact sheet is least convenient and most expensive. I did not know that first year, I though that paper for players exists to help them, turned out as I learned later, It is never about the player. Well unless you are not a player representing huge management company or whatever….

That year I learned about existence of club league matches in France and Germany.

Matches you play for clubs that play against each other on the weekends and get paid…well if you are not European it is 1100 to 1500 Euros, depends on how lucky you are.

Then one Georgian tennis player told me about French prize money tournaments, tournament which you play for money but of course don’t gain any professional points. So I started to do all of that.

I played crazy amount of matches. I played in professional tournament singles and doubles, when I lost I traveled same day on prize money tournaments, next morning I played two singles matches to gain some money and then same evening I traveled to next professional tournament. Then in may I played for clubs in Germany and France, that means I traveled after the match Friday overnight to Germany, play Saturday morning singles and doubles, then travel overnight to France and play Sunday morning singles and doubles there, then travel overnight to wherever my tournament was and play match on Monday, If lucky and supervisor is in great mood, he will put you to play on Tuesday, at least one match, if no then you play Monday, if not lucky singles and doubles.

That’s a grind. Really. And almost everyone does it. Cause again, tennis only looks posh, only top players live posh, everyone else does this street life!

It does not take a lot to guess that by the end of that year I was injured right? : )))))

But later about that…

I did some very good results in 2008, motivation and ambition can get you far enough, if you really try, I started the year near 600 th position and made it to 230 WTA. Was really nice, were good results, I beat couple of top 100 players, played my first ever WTA main draw match, won it. Played abnormal amount of matches and obviously burned out……

I took every possible cheap flight, even if it meant I had to travel 40 hours.

If the flight was out of my reach, I would take bus and I made 20 hour trips by bus.

I somehow remember very badly one trip in specific.

I had to play 50k tournament in Rome, I played tournament in Russia the previous week, then I played club match in Germany on Sunday and then get to Rome. Fortunately or unfortunately I made semis in Russia, I lost on Friday, then flew to Stuttgart for club match and then had to make it to Rome on tournament. I could not find any flight to Rome Sunday evening so I had to fly to Turin, then I took an overnight bus from Turin to Rome, it was going for ten hours, but I made it Monday. Also the supervisor put me to play singles and doubles on Monday. I was so pumped that we won both matches, but needless to say I was dead on Tuesday…

You see, It is good you can make it somehow still to play, but the price you pay for making it is very high!

I am not writing this because I am so special, I know many people who did it, people who still do it.

It is just the level of commitment. How much you gave for what you have.

That is why I do not agree that there is only one way to become tennis pro.

Or there is a measurement of the result. And what is considered as a good result.

You know for someone good result is winning a slam, for someone making a slam, for someone playing 10.000 tournament.

Honestly my biggest goal was as a starter to just to play a grand slam. And every time I got close to it I chocked badly. For exactly three years.

Also the travels and gaining points and money was horribly tough.

First time I saw Paris out of a car, was 2014 when I made it first time to French Open qualifying, they had airport pick up with car, it was first time I did not take a metro to get to city or train station and I sat in car and watched Paris. Probably if they did not pick me up, I’d still go to subway.

It felt great by the way, and I don’t care if it sounds funny or ridiculous to somebody, that felt great, to be picked up at the airport and taken to Grand Slam venue. And maybe for someone getting in to Grand slam qualifying is nothing, I know what price I had to pay for it and it felt good, so honestly I don’t give a single f*** what anyone else thinks about it, or if anyone thinks I got there late or I am not good enough.

Also when I qualified for main draw that year I was super stressed, as I had money enough only to pay for hotel till the end of qualifying and prize money from Grand slam comes with bank transfer in two weeks, so I had no clue how I would pay my stay further in the tournament. Pathetic considering that I had to be thinking on how to prepare for my first Grand slam main draw match :)))

So again, not everyone has it easy, and nobody knows the story behind every single tennis player, so judgmental articles on when and how should people play, and how old should they be to get here or there is very delusional, arrogant and far from the real raw truth about life of every single tennis player who is outside of the top.

I wrapped up my blog post from last week with this one…

In next blog post I will write about one bad memory of mine from 2009, when I stayed 2nd alternate of Australian open, and how it coast me two years and nervous break down, thanks to people who should have been supporting and pushing me forward, instead completely humiliated me and my coach at time and coast us mental and physical health.

See you later.

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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