So you want to be a professional tennis player? And you just don’t want to be one of those players who makes it to 700th in the world, and then gets a job becoming a teaching pro at a country club ... you want to be someone special! You want to travel the world in your private jet, with all the bags of honey-roasted peanuts your heart desires!
You want your hand to start cramping, not because of all the tennis you played, but because of signing your autograph on thousands of those giant tennis balls! You want to be holding up trophies accompanied with one of those handshake/hugs from a member of a royal family! You want to be playing the opening night match at the U.S. Open in front of the cast of Entourage! You want your name to be mentioned in the same sentences with the likes of Agassi, Federer, Nadal, McEnroe, Connors, Graf, Seles and the Williams sisters! You want to be a legend who people remember for generations to come!
If you want all these things, you came to the right person, because I know the route that will get you there. I know what needs to be done and the steps needed to be taken to achieve this goal. I know what you have to do and I know what’s involved. And for those of you lucky enough to be reading this, and to have access to my profound wisdom, here is a checklist of everything you need to become someone to remember in the sport of tennis.
#1: You need to have a lunatic tennis parent
This is where it all starts. Common sense … a calm demeanor … ethical behavior … these are all attributes that your parent cannot have if you want to be one of the greats in this sports. You need a crazy parent to give you a racket while you are still in the maternity ward at the hospital. He needs to be in the delivery room, trying to grab your attention by waving a tennis ball back and forth as if it was a lighter and he’s listening to “Free Bird” live in concert. You need a parent who is not afraid of making scenes in front of strangers and who will yell at you when you win or lose. Your parent can never be satisfied with your tennis, no matter what you do. A parent who is understanding and compassionate is nice to have, but won’t do you any good in becoming a professional.
#2: You have to say goodbye to school
The problem with going to school during your adolescence is that it wastes too much time. After all, you want to be one of the best ever to pick up a racquet, so playing a couple of hours every day after school will not get you to achieve this goal. Sure, with this training schedule, you might be able to play for a college some day, but you are not going to be a professional. Learning things like European history or what an isosceles triangle looks like, just gets in the way. You need to play all day, everyday, if you want to be the best. You cannot go to your prom or any parties in someone’s basement, because you are either playing a tournament in Bulgaria that weekend, or you are too busy working on your inside-out, backhand, drop-shot, because you had the gall to miss one during a practice match. You will have to do that home schooling thing, where you e-mail your homework to a company in Albuquerque, N.M., and then they give you a diploma after a couple of months, saying that you a competent member of society.
#3: You cannot have any type of personality
As soon as you start to smile during tennis practices, it’s over. You need to treat tennis as a thing you do and you don’t know why you do it. You don’t know if you like it … you don’t know if you hate it. The only thing you do know, is that it’s something that you have to do to sustain life … much like breathing. You need to become a mindless zombie when it comes to hitting the same shot over and over again. If someone asks you how tennis practice was, you honestly have no idea what they are talking about, because you cannot recollect the last six hours of your life … much like an alien abduction. You need to maintain this behavior for years and years. Only when you hoist up your first Grand Slam title are you allowed five min. to be happy, before your lunatic parent chews you out for getting broken in the forth set.
#4: You need a coach who lives and breathes tennis
You need a coach whose whole life is tennis. You need someone who is on the court with you all day, then goes home and stares at a computer screen all night, checking and rechecking the tournaments you are going to play. You need a coach who isn’t distracted by having a life or raising a family. These things just get in the way of your tennis development. If you are playing a tournament at 11:59 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, he or she will be there supporting you.
#5: You have to be at least 6-ft. tall for men or around 6-ft. tall for a woman
You can do all the things I’ve said before, but if you max out at 5-ft. 2-in., becoming a professional tennis player is not going to happen for you. It will make no difference how much you train or how crazy your parents are. Tennis has evolved to a point where height is a major factor in who becomes successful. Look at all the champions today. Federer is 6-ft. 1-in., Nadal is 6-ft. 1-in., Djokovic is 6-ft. 2-in., del Potro is 6-ft. 6-in., Serena Williams is 5-ft. 10-in., Venus Williams is 6-ft. 1-in., Sharapova is 6-ft. 2-in., and Jankovic is 5-ft. 10-in. Do you honestly think that it’s a coincidence that everyone is around this height? If you do, then I also have a bridge I can sell you!
#6: You have to be an athlete
You can spend years doing all the things on my checklist, but if you do not have naturally-born athletic ability, then you are wasting your time in becoming a professional. If you have the athletic ability of Michael Moore, then you have about as good of chance of making it, as I do winning a Latin Grammy.
With this checklist, you now have the blueprint to becoming a famous tennis player. Thanks to my brilliant knowledge of the sport, now you know. But unfortunately, like everything else in life, there’s a catch. And without boring you anymore, I will get to the point. Here’s the catch … even if you do all of these things and spend years of hard work and sacrifice towards achieving the goal of becoming a legend in the sport, there’s still a 99.9% chance you aren’t going to make it.
Good luck, anyway!