As the euphoria of the Australian Open and it’s vintage climax fades and Melbourne comes alive with AFL and the upcoming Grand Prix, aspiring Aussie tennis professionals (18 – 22 years) consider their pathway and plans to achieving a pro tour destination and career. So much to learn, as the transition to ‘open’ tennis is a big leap.
A select few will receive support and varying resources from Tennis Australia and the opportunities to develop their game through training and overseas travel to ITF futures and challenger events – exposing them to the global environment of professional tennis with some guidance. However resources are limited and players must take responsibility and produce quickly or support is removed … and then another path must be found – history shows that this occurrence is very common.
For those on a second tier they are encouraged to seek scholarships with a USA College, a path that combines tennis with an education, daily training and inter-collegiate matches through the NCAA system against similar standard players. A wonderful experience, however first hand experience over a few decades has me challenging this road to the pro tour, as it is actually an education scholarship that the tennis allows a player to get a degree for less cost than our Australian Institutes, resulting in a stagnation of required focus and development.
Other alternatives taken up by this tier of player is to travel away to different points of the globe, seeking experience by playing international events, thinking that by introducing themselves to this level (ITF) of events and better players somehow progress is assured. Again, experience tells me that players end up more like tourists and any plans, goals or achieved success is diminished
Like any other professional sport, the next step is a huge one for these post juniors and a certain safety net needs to be in place, together with the hard work and knowledge to go to the next levels – ITF | Challenger | WTA | ATP | Grand Slams.
Thus, the ‘home’ alternative pathway – comfort, care, growth, support, influence, on-line education, mentoring, coaching, training, tournament guidance – multiple benefits, that also involves these young aspirants with international opponents and a strong level of tournament competition including the opportunity to gain experience and vital ‘world’ points ready to take on the globe.
The Australian Pro Tour series delivers 17 x futures ($25k each) and 4-6 challengers ($50-$60k each) events per year for men and women. Additionally Tennis Australia sanction 26 x AMT Platinum tournaments ($10-$15k) per year for extra high level play (former pro’s and advanced club players participate), furthering the opportunity to play the required matches (60 to 70 a year) to build ‘tournament intelligence’.
The recent women’s Perth International (ITF) main draw of 32 – contained players from 17 different nations, this week a hardcourt event, with a grass one and two clay futures in Victoria to complete this series evidencing the required diversity of opponents and surfaces.
Vintage Tennis wishes our and all aspirants great success on this journey of their lifetime, whatever path is chosen – keep the passion, keep the love and work smart.