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

Getting to know…

Hello,

Let me introduce myself. My name is Sofia, I am professional tennis player, who travels the world.

When I say professional that does not mean Serena Williams type of professional. I am lower ranked player, who is trying her best to improve in competitions.

My life is full of strange events and a lot of travel. A lot of people and a lot of experiences.

Lately I had urge to share my journey with people, because I do think it might be interesting to some. I want to share my travel experiences, the cafes around the world, the coffee shops, the book stores, sport events, fights and grinds.

My travels are far from luxury travels, as lower ranked tennis players try to save every bit of money, as tennis is expensive sport and if you are not among top hundred players in the world, your monthly income after expenses in the best case scenario is zero. So we have to find a way to travel cheap, eat cheap, get cheap accommodation and try to stay sane and fit at the same time.

Some trips are nicer, some are worse, some are disaster and some are great.

Also I practice a lot and work out, I love to cook and I am reader.

I plan to share everything here, from my personal experiences to recipes, I want to share how strange the world is at times and how people surprise you in a good and bad way.

About, how many times life helped me go through another day.

I want to write as in ten years I gathered a lot of things to say and I feel some things are meant to be shared. More people are aware of events happening in the world, more they are ready for their own obstacles.

21st century gave us a lot of opportunities to share experiences and help us to learn from each other, exchange thoughts, ideas,information and a lot more.

So I would like to use my free time and share things I find or found interesting around the world and in life. Also I will welcome any ideas if you give me some what would you like to hear from me…

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I come from Georgia, Tbilisi. Ex USSR country or ex Soviet Union, however you prefer to call it.

Growing up there was not easy. 90`s in Georgia was bad time, we had no water or heating, no electricity, everything was measured, electricity once a day for 30 minutes or maybe an hour if it was a good day, heating was a gasoline lamp that we used as a light as well. There were lines for bread and if we did not wake up at 4 am to stand in the line for bread we would not be able to buy it.

After Soviet Union broke down my family was in very difficult material situation. My mom used to buy one egg for me,as I was the youngest one and cook it on candle. It is not my nicest memory, but also I don’t remember that times as dark times, probably because I was very young, I guess my parents don’t think as I do.

Later we moved to Russia, as my dad was promised a good job there and in desperation we sold all we had including apartment and flew to Russia all together.

We had a lot of plans and we were happy to have a chance to start new life in Moscow with new great job for my dad. His friend that gave us a lot of promises to help us and give my father a place was supposed to pick us up in the airport at night when we landed. And we hoped after that everything would be great.

But nothing goes really smooth in life, nobody picked us up or showed up, the man did not pick up the phone and we stayed in the street, in minus 20 degrees c, with boxes of stuff in our hands, without any idea where to go.

I remember good that night, my mom cried her eyes out, my dad was watching me with worry. We slept in the street on the boxes that night, and that was the moment I started to hate airports forever…

Another morning came and as usual mornings are always better.

My mother’s cousin lived in Moscow and he helped us find an apartment for rent, where we could move exactly next day, it was not great, nothing good, but at least something to start off.

My father desperately tried for couple of month to find job in his profession, in Georgia he was principal in school and teacher, but nobody needed Georgian person in Russia that time.

Our money from Georgia started to run out fast so he started to work in clothes market in Russia.

I still don’t know how he managed to do it, as in minus degrees in Russian cold, to stand in the street all winter and sell stuff, for the person who worked in warm and cozy office all life was very hard. I guess you would do anything for your kids…My mother was taking care of me and my sisters returned to Georgia to study in university as nobody needed Georgians in Russia at that time.

It was very hard period, for my father especially, for my mother, for my sisters, and for me, couple of years of struggle did not pass by easy and my lungs caught all sorts of diseases, I was sick for two years in a row, my parents were so desperate that they thought I would not make It at some point, but somehow with the effort of my mom and her 24 hour care I got little by little better, which is also brilliant cause we could not afford a lot of doctors that time, so my health was in her hands.

After couple of years of struggle and starting from zero things finally fell into place everything became better! My father really worked hard to make things good and he did. At that time democracy started to show its roots in our home country, and my parents decided to turn back to Georgia.

They thought that my dad could regain his old job or find a better one, we were already living pretty good in Moscow, but for my parents something was always back in Georgia that they wanted to go back to.

Was not a best idea at first, cause my father did not find a job for a long one year, they treated us like we cheated on our own country as we left,it sucked actually, cause in Russia we were Georgians and in Georgia we were Russians and nobody wanted any member of our family anywhere…

Sometimes I feel that attitude did not change till now…

anyway…after a year we finally settled down and life seemed to go back to normal, it was long ten years of losing everything and gaining and losing and gaining again…but that’s what life is, losing and gaining right?

I hope I didn’t bore you with all this, I do believe if I am going to write stories about my travels and life, it is important also for you to understand where I come from and how I come, because otherwise it would be impossible to understand some of the decisions I make…

This was short and brief story of my childhood, before my sports career and travels started, but my childhood is the root of every step I take now as a person and that is exactly why I started with this.

Hope you read it and hope you will come back to read some more… as I will be updating my page a lot from now on. Looking forward….