Does your child have a wicked forehand that leaves you staring after the ball has passed? Think you’ve got the next Federer under your roof? If so then you may want to support your child’s interest in pursuing a career in tennis. After all, all that natural talent holds the potential of a big future. He or she could become a sports superstar, traveling across the globe to play in tournaments, earning tons of money. However, keep in mind that it also takes a big investment to get to the eventual payoff.
The numbers may look tempting. Novak Djokovic made GBP1.88 million (Rs18.8 crore) after defeating Roger Federer in the recent Wimbledon final. However, as reported by DNA, in order to pursue a tennis dream, Indian players have to spend about Rs50 lakh a year in travel and coaching. Of course, there’s no guarantee you will see any of it returned by way of prize money unless your child becomes a top-seeded tennis player.
Today, professional athletes do not succeed on talent alone. Your child will need to hone native skill by working relentlessly on his or her physical strength, agility and endurance, and develop the mental discipline necessary to live and breathe the sport. She may have to forego regular schooling in order to spend enough time on court, which means getting private tutors. A professional career also involves major time investments. One tennis preparation site says children 8-14 years need to spend 2.5-5 hours a day in physical preparation. After the age of 12, players also start mental preparation. Beyond the training, they also need to play matches every week. The number of hours of training only increases as young players mature.
A professional tennis player from India will spend about Rs30 lakh a year playing tournaments across the globe. A player in the top 150, and one who manages to win a couple of the 30-odd events he competes in yearly, can hope to earn up to half the amount he has spent. This means, in the years the player needs to make it into the top 150, he/she will end up losing a considerable amount of money. Players also have to spend on professional training, often going abroad to get the best help. The yearly cost of training in Europe is about Rs25 lakh a year. This, in total, adds up to around Rs50 lakh of expenditure yearly.
AS a player moves up in rank, earnings increase, but so do the costs. Indian tennis ace Leander Paes faced the same financial issues. His father Vece Paes said, “There were times when I used to wake up at night sweating, wondering where so much money would come from. As Leander started progressing, we had to fund for his coaches, which used to cost about $6,000-7,000 (Rs3,60,000- Rs4,20,000) per week, besides paying for his accommodation and food.”
Vece had to borrow money from colleagues for five years to help Leander continue with his dream. He also talked a foreign coach into training his son on credit for a year.
In 1990, when Leander entered the Indian Davis Cup squad at the age of 16, Vece said that the situation looked brighter.
“Sponsors then start coming forward once you become a regular part of the Davis Cup team. Endorsements come in, and then your financial aspect gets better.”
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