Written by: Maria Patrascu
***Maria Patrascu started tennis at age 4 and a half in Bucarest, Romania. At the age of 5 her family moved to Toronto where she continued her tennis development with Peter Nielsen at the NYTA. She also has trained at Player’s Edge, the TTA and the Granite Club. Gary Caron of the Granite still assists the family and she now trains with Pierre Lamarche at ACE Tennis. She is the defending U14 outdoor national champion. While still eligible for Under 14, she now plays in the U16 and U18 where she qualified for the Indoor nationals this past winter.***
Tennis has been a huge part of my life ever since I started playing at age 5. I’ve made sacrifices, small and big, that maybe the average kid wouldn’t have had to choose between. Sacrifices are mostly activities such as the obvious not being able to hang out with friends, go to movies or other places, and of course, switching to a half day of school. Switching to St. Andrew’s was one of the biggest decisions I made because while all my friends would be going to another school, I would be going to this one. The reason for this was that I wouldn’t have enough time for tennis with a full day of school. I’m not saying St. Andrew’s was a bad decision; in the end, it was far better. But I do think about some of my friends, which I’ve grown apart from over the past two years.
This being said, I have decided what I want to do with my life. I want to fulfill my dream of becoming a professional tennis player. This career is somewhat odd compared to the others. Sport careers, I think, don’t necessarily require a good education. I (and I speak for many others) still want one because professional athletes want to succeed in anything they do. I know this because I’m constantly surrounded by teens trying to achieve their goals; we are very competitive and we strive for the best results .
Second, the question that haunts every teen’s mind: Will I make it? Every aspiring athlete wants to do well and dream big. I put so much work and effort in everything I do for tennis that in the end I can only hope luck will be on my side. However, this is where good grades come in handy! A few reasons:
– In case the you-know-what question turns out negative, you can get a scholarship and have plenty of other interests open up to you while in university. No regrets!
– Lots of confidence; if you can get the grades, you can surely become a great professional athlete!
– Similar to the above; if you can get the grades, you have less stress of doing really well and in the back of your mind you know there’s a backup plan.
I know this from adults, retired tennis players, my coaches; education is key. You also wouldn’t want to look uneducated if you have an interview air on TV.
Well, I know my goal in life isn’t feasible, but quite reasonable. I know what I want to achieve. I’ve worked really hard to get at the level I’m at now (international junior). Now, how do I go from an aspiring junior to the real thing? The following has been excerpted from Dave Smith’s book, COACHING MASTERY:
“Nearly every book on tennis suggests that it is incredibly unlikely that you could become a pro. The consensus seems to imply that only an elite level of athlete, coupled with unlimited financial resources, and an uninterrupted lifestyle could even think they could go pro.”
This is undeniably true! I have read an article by Monty Basnyat; here is another excerpt:
“Everyone asks me – How much money do the players get playing in the Futures Pro Circuit Tour? My response, “not much.” Making a living playing in the futures tour is next to impossible. By the time you pay for your travel expenses, food and lodging, the guys are in the red.”
Futures are young professional players who haven’t made it “yet”. Most of them never do. This is a great article to read because it’s up-to-date and Monty elaborates on the subject, adding how much a tennis player makes at a future. Some players are lucky to get a sponsor, but “Mom and Dad ATM” sponsor the majority. So excluding the top 30 players who are really making a great living, I read an article called “Costs Of Being a Pro Tennis Player: Complete Breakdown”; the average tennis pro women’s or men’s tennis player only makes at least 200k per year. It is also mentioned in this article that a professional doubles player he knew spent 100k one year on flights alone. So, 200k is not much! I haven’t been able to find the exact costs that the majority of pros have to pay for but I can assure you; travel, tennis equipment, tournaments, food, and hotels has its dues.
Enough with the costs and what you “need” to “make it big”. Here are things that I’ve listed that you actually do need from my personal experience and a lot of intense coach talks:
– Perseverance! All athletes get knocked down plenty of times; the challenge is getting back up and ready to start again. If an aspiring athlete doesn’t have this, he/she is not a professional athlete.
– The nerve: to be successful, to believe in yourself, to always work the hardest, to listen to your coach and do what he/she asks, and to never for one moment think that you can’t achieve your professional goal.
– The attitude of a champion: this is a must-have. In my case, when I walk on court I have the attitude, I look like I own the court, and that I will do whatever it takes to win (with good sportsmanship). I could be nervous, trembling, sweating, and scared on the inside, but two great coaches have told me countless times; fake it ’till you make it.