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Tennis players limited by high expenses

There is a huge cost variation in professional tennis area, we all know that. At the very least, there are about 1500 players each on the ATP and WTA lists. For those competing below the main tour level, the costs are quite different, but let’s see from the point of view of a top 50 tour player as explained by an anonymous pro stringer.

Clearly, the lower ranked the player, the less he can afford to spend on coaches, travel and other expenses. Also, if a player employs a coach, this doubles many expenses, as the player is expected to pay for all of the coach’s travel expenses as well.

Travel

This is typically between $50,000 and $150,000 per person, depending on which events are played, where they’re located, and how fancy the accommodations. Here, things like the level of hotels used and whether the player flies economy, business class, or private can have a huge impact on the bottom line. Also, some tournaments do pay a per diem to cover some or all of the hotel costs. However, this amount varies by the tournament and by the player. It also varies greatly based on whether the player has to pay for other team members (coach, trainer, physio, spouse, etc.). In fact, these costs are often larger than the prize money on offer.

Food

While this is subsidized in some cases by the tournaments, there are still lots of costs when you’re not actually at the tournament hotel or grounds. And again, this varies greatly by how fancily you like to eat. Costs can be anywhere from $5,000 a year to $30,000 a year. Again, this is per person and is multiplied by the number of people in the entourage, since the player is expected to pay for the coach, trainer, physio, etc.

Coaching

The starting salaries for professional tennis coaches at the ATP main tour level are probably in the $50,000 per year range. However, most have bonus clauses in their contracts based on the player’s performance, and top-level coaches are often paid as a percentage of the player’s earnings (10-15%), so the cost of employing one may be as high as $1 million for the top few players.

Stringing

This varies, depending on how far a player gets in each tournament, but can be anywhere from $5,000 – $40,000 a year. While most pros at least get their racquets free, they generally have to pay for stringing. And some of them pay a hefty annual sum to a private stringing and customization service to keep their gear consistent and in top shape.

Other expenses

In addition to all of the above expenses, there are quite a few additional things that can slip through the cracks. They include ground transportation within the destination cities and transfers, tournament penalty fees, fines, clothing and additional equipment for non-sponsored players, medical expenses and massage.

So in the end, a top 50 player will spend anywhere from $100,000 – $2,000,000 in expenses, with many in the $150,000 – $500,000 range.

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