How to Become a Professional Tennis Player

Co-authored by Peter FryerUpdated: July 10, 2019

Explore this ArticleGaining ExperienceSurrounding Yourself With TalentUnderstanding What it Means to Be a Professional PlayerArticle SummaryQuestions & AnswersRelated ArticlesReferences

Tennis is a highly competitive and popular sport that many people around the world enjoy every day. But while most people enjoy tennis as a past time or a hobby, there are those who aspire to be a professional tennis player. Professional tennis, like other professional sports, is a highly competitive sport that requires dedication, persistence, and natural talent. If you are dedicated to going pro in tennis, there are many things you need to do to insure your chances of success on the court.


EditGaining Experience

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    Get in shape. Whether you’re a teenage player or someone in his or her twenties, you’ve got to make sure you are fit enough to compete on the court. This is because playing professional is extremely demanding physically and will push you to your limits and possibly beyond. There are a number of things you can do to make sure you’re in shape to compete on the court:

    • Do some cardio training. Try to run at least 3 times a week.
    • Do some light weight training. The goal here is to not bulk up and become muscular, but to make sure you are fit and your body is prepared for the grueling time you’ll experience on the court.
    • Consider hiring or consulting with a personal trainer who will help you put together an exercise routine that fits your schedule and goals.[1]
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    Practice as much as you can. Practice is the only way to get better at tennis. In order to go pro, you’ll have to put in countless hours of playing tennis so that you can get an edge on future opponents. Make sure to use your available hobby or leisure time to supplement your scheduled practice time. Remember, as a professional player, tennis will dominate your life. Tennis, then, will dominate your life when you’re on the path to becoming a pro.

    • Establish a schedule for yourself that engages you as many times a week as you need to improve.
    • Many pre-professional players train six days a week for several hours a day.
    • Psychologists say that it takes about 5 years, or 1,000 hours to become an expert at something mainly involving sports.[2]  
    Peter Fryer
    Tennis Pro and Writer

    Be willing to play tennis every day if you want to play on a professional level.Tennis writer and coach Peter Fryer says: “On average, professional players train at least 3-4 hours a day—at least 2 hours on the court, an hour of fitness training, and an hour working on flexibility. When they’re preparing for a big tournament, like a Grand Slam, the US Open, or Wimbledon, they may train up to 8 hours a day.”

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  4. Enroll in summer tennis programs, if you’re in secondary school or college.There are a wide array of summer tennis programs available to those in secondary school or college. Summer tennis programs will be immersive and will introduce those enrolled into the world of competitive tennis. Summer programs are an excellent way to gain experience, practice, and to get a foot in the door of the competitive tennis world.
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    Compete in secondary school, if there is a program. If you’re in middle or high school and your school has a tennis team or program, make sure to sign up as soon as you can. Playing in school will give you the ability to devote extra time to practicing your future profession. Try to view school tennis competitions as a pathway to success and as a path to going pro.[3]
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    Engage in non-school related competitions. While you’ll be playing tennis competitively in secondary school, many of the best players also play competitive in non-school related competitions. This way, you’ll have two tracks to success and even more time to practice and gain experience.

    • Start playing in junior Zone Advancement Tournaments (ZATs). When playing ZATs, you’ll have the opportunity to accumulate points. Points will enable you to progress towards higher tournaments and competitions.
    • Champ up. After ZATs, you do a thing called “champing up” which happens after you accumulate a certain amount of points from winning matches. This means that the more tournaments you play, more chances you have to advance to higher level tournaments.
    • Once you get to a thing called “super champ,” you can now participate in national tournaments. At this point, you will have gained a reputation in the tennis world as one of the best junior players in the nation.
    • After you gain really good rankings in the United States, you will be invited to play in worldwide tournaments for juniors such as the junior U.S. Open, or even junior Wimbledon.
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    Win a college scholarship and play tennis for your university. While you’re competing in secondary school and in non-school related tennis competitions, you should also consider trying to win tennis scholarships to universities with good tennis programs. These scholarships will fund your education but also allow you to devote a lot of your time as an undergraduate to the tennis world.

    • To win scholarships, you’ll not only need to have a winning record as a player on the court but also have good academic records.
    • If you’ve won tournaments or attended the junior Wimbledon or something comparative, your chances of winning a scholarship will increase.
    • Top programs for men include: University of Southern California at Los Angeles, the University of Virginia, and Baylor University.
    • Top programs for women include: Duke University; Vanderbilt University; and the University of California at Los Angeles. [4]
  7. Adopt the approach and habits of top pro players. Top players do things a bit different than those they play against. Top players have approaches to the game and habits that set them apart from everyone else and help propel them to the top of the sport. Consider:

    • Focusing on improving parts of your game instead of focusing on simply hitting the ball. Top players use every practice session as a way to improve different elements of their game. As a result, over a long period, their whole game improves.
    • Set yourself a routine. Most pro players have a specific routine before every match. Whatever your routine is, make sure you master it and you’re comfortable with it.[5]
    • Embrace your own approach. One thing many tennis pros agree upon is that there is no one correct tennis technique. Ultimately, a swing or technique that works for one person might not work for another. Just make sure to practice as much as you can and get feedback so you can identify the best technique for you.[6]
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Part 1 Quiz

What’s the best lesson you can learn from studying top tennis players?

You should mimic their habits and routines.
Every practice session should involve hitting the ball.
You should focus on developing your own approach.


EditSurrounding Yourself With Talent

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    Play against people who challenge you. Even before you take formal steps to become a professional player, you need to play against people who challenge you. Playing challenging opponents will be the best way to improve your skill level and prepare yourself for the many high-level opponents you will surely face as a professional player.

    • Join a league or a club with players who are better than you. If you’re a high school player, you might want to see if you can practice against some college players in your area. They’ll surely have more skill and experience, and you’ll learn from your matches with them.
    • Avoid playing against people you always beat. While it might be fun to win, you won’t learn much from playing against the same people and beating them all the time.
    • Play against people who are older than you, even if they are significantly older. People who have been playing for decades might enjoy playing against younger players. The benefit is for both players: they’ll enjoy having an energetic and enthusiastic youth to play against, and you’ll learn from their many years of experience on the court. [7]
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    Find a coach who has professional experience. Even if you practice rigorously, there’s only so much you can learn on your own. Find someone who can help guide your training, whether it’s a paid coach or a casual mentor (though you will eventually need to move to a paid coach if you really want to go pro).

    • Expect to be challenged. Having someone else guide your training means that you’ll be pushed harder to improve. It won’t be any easy process, but your payoff will be greater in the end.
    • Make your coaching time count. Pay close attention to the advice you receive while you’re training. If you really want something to become a part of your technique, make it into a mantra that you repeat (aloud or in your head) as you play.
    • Spend the time to find good coaches. Bad coaches are out there, believe it or not (from personal experience). Your time will be paid back when you get superb coaching. [8]
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    Identify a mentor or mentors. In addition to your coach, you’ll want to find a mentor or mentors who are or were professional players and will be able to give you tips and offer guidance on your career path. Your mentors don’t need to be in your local community. They can be people you visit or encounter every so often. The important thing is that they are willing to give you advice and maybe play against you every so often so they can evaluate you and critique your game. To find a mentor, consider:

    • Asking your coach or someone in your practice cohort/circle to introduce you to someone who is exceptionally skilled.
    • Cultivate relationships with skilled or professional athletes you meet at tournaments and at other tennis-related events. It is best to slowly engage and communicate with people you want to mentor you, rather than to just ask them outright.
    • Look for mentor programs through local and national tennis organizations.

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Part 2 Quiz

True or False: you should only play against tennis players your age.



EditUnderstanding What it Means to Be a Professional Player

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    Start young. Since experience is so important in turning pro, the best players started extremely young. Playing tennis dominates their life from childhood onward. You’ll likely lose out on many experiences that your peers have.

    • The average age that top players started tennis was 6 or 7 years old.
    • The later you start in life, the lower your chances of becoming a top competitor are.
    • Starting in your late-teens drastically decreases chances of becoming a professional.[9]
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    Learn about the attributes that the best players possess. The top professional tennis players in the world often share a number of similar attributes. These attributes are both natural and acquired. Ultimately, these important attributes and practices helped set them apart from their competition.

    • Top players are often faster and more agile than their competitors.
    • Top players practice less on average.
    • Top players do more fitness training than other players.
    • Top players are often slimmer than their competitors.[10]
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    Know the sacrifices you’ll have to make. Being a professional tennis player involves many sacrifices. You’ll have to give up a lot of time to get the practice you need to succeed. You’ll miss out on a lot when you’re on the road competing in tournaments. As a result, you should greatly consider all of the sacrifices you’ll make if you choose to go professional.

    • Your academic career in secondary school and college will probably suffer.
    • Many professional tennis players are tracked as pro in middle school or early high school and are unable to attend college until later in life.
    • Your family, social and love life will be impacted as much of your time will be devoted to practice and travel.[11]
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    Understand the monetary cost. Becoming a professional tennis player is no cheap endeavor. If you choose to go professional, you’ll be putting yourself on a path that costs a lot of money. This is a cost that most people cannot afford.

    • You’ll need money to pay coaches early in your career.
    • You’ll have to pay for travel and other costs associated with competing in tournaments far from home.
    • Most professional players do not make money playing.
    • It is estimated that it costs $160,000 to compete professionally on the circuit every year.
    • Look for financial aid from organizations like the United States Tennis Association. Financial aid, if you qualify, will help pay for travel and other expenses related to competing.[12]
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    Join the United States Tennis Association (USTA). To compete in the US, you’ll have to join the USTA. Once you’re a member of the USTA, you’ll have the opportunity to join and compete in USTA leagues and tournaments. Participating in tournaments, leagues, team tennis and other activities allows you to accumulate points to attain a ranking. As your ranking grows, you’ll move closer to being the successful professional player you’ve dreamed of being.

    • The USTA is truly one of the most important gateways to a professional career.
    • The USTA has a great website where you can search for tournaments in your area. See:
    • If you don’t live in the US, search online for your country’s competitive tennis organization.

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Part 3 Quiz

What advantages will you gain by joining the USTA?

Being able to meet professional players.
Access to top-tier coaches.
Access to leagues and tournaments.


  • Take care of your body. You only have one. If you are injured, rest until you’re fully healed.
  • Remember that being competitive is good, but becoming over-competitive and stressed out is counterproductive. Chill out and take a break when you are losing badly or having a bad season.
  • Get good equipment.
  • Stay focused throughout the game, and if you are getting a bit frustrated with yourself, sit down or go to the toilet for a break.
  • Have a good coach who can teach you techniques in order to avoid any avoidable fractures such as ligament tears.
  • Practice as much as you can but try not to do it to the extent to where you get injured

via How to Become a Professional Tennis Player: 15 Steps