How good does a tennis pro have to be to make a living? - TennisForum.com

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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old Sep 10th, 2009, 06:24 PM Thread Starter
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How good does a tennis pro have to be to make a living?

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How good does a tennis pro have to be to make a living?
By Christopher Beam

During Andy Roddick's match against Marc Gicquel at the U.S. Open Thursday night, commentator John McEnroe quipped on ESPN that Gicquel, now ranked No. 81, might have to start looking for another job. How good does a tennis player have to be to make a living?

In the top 200 or so, depending on what you consider a comfortable wage. Say we draw the line at $100,000 a year—before expenses (more on that below). In 2008, slightly more than 200 men made at least $100,000 in prize money. For women, the numbers were slightly lower: In 2008, 143 women players made at least $100,000 or more in prize money, while 200 of them made at least $50,000 in prize money.

Tennis pros typically make money through sponsorships, appearance fees, and, of course, by doing well at tournaments. The amount of prize money a pro earns depends on how many tournaments he plays and which ones. The four Grand Slams—the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, the French Open, and the Australian Open—all pay the most. The winner of the U.S. Open, for example, gets $1.6 million. The runner-up gets $800,000, and the semi-finalists take $350,000. But even if you don't win a single match, you still get $19,000. (The main draws of the U.S. Open feature 128 men and 128 women.) On the men's circuit, the second-most-lucrative tournaments are the nine Masters 1000. Top-ranked players end up making millions in prize money alone. Roger Federer, for example, has raked in $50 million over his career. The 100th ranked player, Kevin Kim, has made $1.3 million in prize money since 1997.

Sponsorships, meanwhile, go to the very top-ranked players. Federer has a 10-year contract with Nike, which earns him $10 million every year, plus other deals totaling nearly $28 million. Maria Sharapova earned an estimated $22 million from sponsorships in 2008. (That is out of a total of roughly $580 million in tennis sponsorship spending this year.) Players ranked between No. 25 and No. 100 might get minor sponsorship deals, too, but they tend to be less lucrative.

Another source of income is so-called "appearance fees." To attract media attention, certain minor tournaments offer highly ranked players money just to show up, regardless of how they play. Players outside the top 10 might make between $50,000 and $150,000 per appearance, while the most elite athletes can make high six-figures. The Dubai Tennis Championships, for instance, offered Rafael Nadal nearly $1 million to play in 2009. (He declined.) Technically, appearance fees are illegal in women's tennis, but the rule is often circumvented.

Of course, a tennis player's income is offset by expenses. The biggest cost is travel. In 2009 alone, the 50th-seed on the men's circuit played tournaments in Connecticut, Ohio, Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Montreal, Switzerland, Germany, France, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, South Africa, and Australia. Tournaments give players a daily allowance to cover hotel and food, but they don't cover travel costs. Airfare therefore comes out of a player's earnings. The next biggest cost is paying a coach or trainer. Coaches for players ranked below No. 150 might make $500 a week. If the player is in the top 100, his coach might get between $1,000 and $2,500 a week, plus 10 percent of the player's prize money, plus bonuses. If a player jumps in ranking, for example, the coach often takes an end-of-year bonus. Coaches for elite players, like the players themselves, make millions. Other costs include fees for practice space, and, for some, interns.

Not all earnings are created equal. Male tennis players typically make more than females, although the gap is closing. The top 10 tournaments, for example, all offer equal prize money to men and women. Singles players, meanwhile, rake in more than doubles. The prize money for doubles winners is smaller than for singles—$420,000 in the U.S. Open, for example, as opposed to $1.6 million. Plus, the doubles teams split the cash.
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old Sep 10th, 2009, 06:30 PM
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Re: How good does a tennis pro have to be to make a living?

I've often wondered just how much money was sometimes involved in luring players to play some tournaments. Now I undersatnd why Serena played in Marbella

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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old Sep 10th, 2009, 06:42 PM
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Re: How good does a tennis pro have to be to make a living?

Domachowska once said that players can make a living if they are ranked 60-80.
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old Sep 10th, 2009, 08:21 PM
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Re: How good does a tennis pro have to be to make a living?

petkovic said you have to be top50 to be able to live and live from the money you made after the career.
anca barna said you have to make 75k dollars a year to make a living.
Kveta Peschke said you only get a free hotel and stuff at the big events Tier1/Tier2.
I just wonder what players outside the top 200 do to survive, the have no clothing deals and don't get a lot of prizemoney, yet there are still players tumbling around 200-500 for years!
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old Sep 10th, 2009, 11:22 PM
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Re: How good does a tennis pro have to be to make a living?

100K gross is bare bones making a living, considering all the expenses, and the time invested from the player and her support people. But I guess that is about the right place to cut it in making a living vs. not.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 02:54 AM
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Re: How good does a tennis pro have to be to make a living?

A player not too long ago gave me this rule of thumb:
If you can earn between $40,000 and $50,000 per year in prize money, you can support yourself. There's not much left over, if anything, but you can pay the bills and play without too many worries. In fact, even you can make a grand slam such as Wimbledon, in doubles or singles or mixed, the per diem you get as a player will tide you over for about three months if you're thrifty. That's why making the grand slams is so lucrative for players. The player said if you can make at least $100,000, you live pretty well and can save a little money in the process. You're not wealthy by any means, but neither are you struggling.

I know several players who make about $50,000 to $60,000 a year and think it's smart to keep playing in hopes they'll score the big payday.

Consider what happened to Gullickson and Parrot today. They each walked away with $75,000, plus the tournament per diem. Not to shabby for players of their stature!
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 03:10 AM
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Re: How good does a tennis pro have to be to make a living?

Ive often wondered how those doubles specialists make their living. There are not so many tournaments and most of them dont even play singles and even if they do, most are really crap at it. And Im pretty sure their endorsements are not that massive either.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 03:20 AM
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Re: How good does a tennis pro have to be to make a living?

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Originally Posted by jefrilibra View Post
Ive often wondered how those doubles specialists make their living. There are not so many tournaments and most of them dont even play singles and even if they do, most are really crap at it. And Im pretty sure their endorsements are not that massive either.
The doubles players make up for the lack of available prize money by playing almost every week.

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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 03:24 AM
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Re: How good does a tennis pro have to be to make a living?

Massu said that he lost money last year. Hard to believe cos Massu earned 350 000 dollars
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 04:24 AM
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Re: How good does a tennis pro have to be to make a living?

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Massu said that he lost money last year. Hard to believe cos Massu earned 350 000 dollars
He could have spent it unwell?

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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 05:18 AM
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Re: How good does a tennis pro have to be to make a living?

your better off being a coach lol
$500 for a week (not even top 100),
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 05:27 AM
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Re: How good does a tennis pro have to be to make a living?

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He could have spent it unwell?
Massu can not spend so much time at his country unlike the europeans , nort-americans

It could be a reason
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 06:21 AM
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Re: How good does a tennis pro have to be to make a living?

I always consider some Japanese players smart. Players like Namigata and Sema rarely play outside of Japan ITFs. That saves some travel expense. And given the fact that there are so many Japanese ITFs every month, and that, say, a winner in a 50k singles event gets like $7,700, I think they can actually live pretty well even without going to the Grand Slams.

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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 06:50 AM
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Re: How good does a tennis pro have to be to make a living?

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Originally Posted by jefrilibra View Post
Ive often wondered how those doubles specialists make their living. There are not so many tournaments and most of them dont even play singles and even if they do, most are really crap at it. And Im pretty sure their endorsements are not that massive either.
If you're a good doubles player you can make a fortune. And still call yourself a Grand Slam champion if you win.

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Doubles and Mixed Doubles are fun and underrated.
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 06:55 AM
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Re: How good does a tennis pro have to be to make a living?

$19,000 is nothing for the 1st round. 1st round doesn't seem much of an achievement. But if you think how many pro tennis players in a Slam there actually are from all over the world, there is a very small number compared to the number of soccer players worldwide who get paid far more. Tennis is not as lucrative for many people compared to other sports. The few get riches but they are a small number of people. I think it's one reason why tennis doesn't attract so many young people to play - you have to risk a lot of time, effort, investment with not a great chance of major success. Whereas in other sports you have a much greater chance of success for often less effort.

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Players I root for now: Heather, Laura, Lucie, Marion, Serena, Simona, Svetlana, Venus, Vika. And Caroline.
Doubles and Mixed Doubles are fun and underrated.
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