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What is the income of a professional tennis player?

How much money does a professional tennis player need to make compared to a MBA student. Mass media have brought large audiences to the sport, but how good must a professional really be to make a good living out of it?

Players that don’t make it past 100 or so really don’t make any money, but first let’s define the level of income in comparison to a person with a MBA degree of a “good to higher” university. This person may make 120 to 150 K from the age of let say 25 to 65. Total income until retirement is let say 5 million. The average professional tennis player will start at let say 20 and retire at the age of 30. So to make the same as the MBA student the tennis professional needs to make 500 K plus tennis related cost. A tennis professional needs to travel and needs to pay most costs.

OK what are the average costs that a tennis professional has to cover? First you need to have a part time coach that will cost an average of $500 per week (every professional would love to have a full time coach, but it is just too expensive), so yearly cost 24 K.

Let’s assume, that the tennis professional travels to 20 tournaments a year and each tournament cost an average of $ 2,000 for a ticket, rental car, etc. Total travel cost per year 40 K.

Tennis equipment for shoes, racket, strings and stringing is around 3 K per year. Fitness, massage, extra medical treatments and health insurance is around 20 K.

So the total cost per year is ~ 87K and a tennis pro needs to make a minimum of 200 K to make a living. To make this the tennis pro needs to be ranked in the top 100. Compared to the MBA student the tennis pro is still losing. In order to match the total income of the MBA student the tennis pro needs to make an average of 587 K per year and be ranked in the top 30 in the world.

So why are so many players working on reaching the professional ranks? If you love to play you don’t ask how much money you can squeeze out of it, you just do it for the love of the sport. If you just look at the money, is it a good investment compared to the MBA student? The “education” to become a tennis pro cost an average of 400 K, from the age of 4 to 20 years. After that we assume the tennis pro is able to cover the running costs with the prize money. An excellent Harvard University education costs ~ 65 K per year and 90 K per year for the MBA.

Again just looking at the cost benefit comparison, if you can get a free ride with a tennis scholarship you may win if you can get into one of the top 10 American Universities. If you don’t just save your money, the average American University is between 15 K and 25 K per year and the “education” of a tennis pro costs way more. Just one little draw back, the Ivy League universities are not offering an athletic scholarship.

If you can squeeze out a good tennis player for under 70 K total cost, you may win with a tennis scholarship at an average American University. Otherwise, just don’t even think about looking at tennis as an investment. What is the best, if Dad is paying.


2 Responses to “What is the income of a professional tennis player?”

  1. We have estimated that the cost is closer to $475K:
    and that it takes 10,000 focused hours to become “world’class”
    then you have to fight a slew of foreigners for a partial scholarship;

  2. What is takes for tennis or anything you really want is sacrafice. I have 3 sons that have just completed their 10th year of competitive tennis. They started at ages (8,9 and 14) not exactly prime time. In spite of it all with little to no money and more sacrafices then anybody we encountered to date we can’t complain. With a number one ranking in the Country for one and all 3 on the Future Circuit the past 2 years. With all due respect I beg to differ. Where there is a will there is a way. The facts you give are just that and I agree that 99.9 percent of top elite players to date have had to come up with the money or not make the cut. But my husband and I would not let finances be a factor. We have turned away the academies, USTA, Sectional Funding etc. because the price our children had to pay to accommodate these facilities just was not worth it. We did it our way. My boys are well adjusted, happy and very competitive. There is no end in sight for us, no college either (are you kidding all of this to throw in the towel). Don’t get me wrong college vs Professional Tennis in your example may be correct financially but I will challenge you in a debate one on one on which one is better. Already my boys have enjoyed more success in the Futures and Prize Money tournaments that has helped them develop as young men in character and integrity than college could ever give. The youngest is still 17 and can still go if he decides and all of the top colleges have approched us but he has tasted the blood of a different world in the Futures and Prize Money tournaments. He likes the travel and the control of being independent. I urge anyone that reads this to think out side of the box. Where there is a will there is a way. I know because I live it everyday. If I had the chance to do it all again, you can bet your bottom dollar I would.

    If it’s to be it’s up to me (and my husband). No regrets here.

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