Becoming a Tennis Professional from a Young Age

Tennis parents often ask us, “what are my son’s/daughter’s chances of going pro in tennis?” This question has been brought up by parents before their child’s first practice is even over, as well as when their child is multiple years into their tennis career when the potential has been revealed more clearly. Regardless of when it is asked, we always have the same answer. If both yourself and your child commit everything to becoming a tennis professional, then it’s entirely possible! It’s not going to be a cakewalk, though.

tennis professional from young age requirements

What is the Age Requirement to be a Professional Tennis Player?

Junior players must be at least 14 years old to play in a professional USTA Circuit Tournament.

It should be noted that if your child is playing in a professional circuit tournament, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are a certified “tennis pro.”

Although the minimum age requirement to play in a professional tournament is 14, that doesn’t mean your child can’t prepare extensively before their 14th birthday. In fact, the sheer number of training hours required to have a chance at going pro may surprise you.

Training Requirements for Junior Tennis Players Aspiring to be Professionals

For older juniors, you will notice that training groups are segmented by gender. Girls will usually mature earlier in their tennis careers, while boys tend to surface later. Of course, not all junior players are alike, so your best bet is to get an in-person consultation with a certified, professional coach.

10-Year-Olds

• 5 hours of technical instruction and repetitions
• 2 hours of coordination training
• 2 hours of speed exercises

That comes out to 9 total hours of training per week for 10-year-olds.

12-Year-Olds

• 7 hours of technical instruction and repetitions
• 2 hours of coordination training
• 3 hours of speed exercises
• 2 hours of strength and endurance training
• 1 hour of flexibility-building exercises
• 1 hour of mental development training

In total, 16 hours of training per week for 12-year-olds.

14-Year-Old Girls or 15-Year-Old Boys

These ages are where professional tennis training really begins to ramp up.

• 12 hours of technical instruction and repetitions
• 1 hour of coordination training (scaled down because majority of coordination development has already occurred)
• 3 hours of speed exercises
• 5 hours of strength and endurance training
• 2 hours of flexibility-building exercises
• 1 hour of mental development training

All in all, that’s a whopping 25 hours of training per week for 14-year-old girls and 15-year-old boys.

15-Year-Old Girls or 16-Year-Old Boys

• 15 hours of technical instruction and repetitions
• 1 hour of coordination training
• 3 hours of speed exercises
• 6 hours of strength and endurance training
• 2 hours of flexibility-building exercises
• 1 hour of mental development training

28 total weekly hours.

16-Year-Old Girls or 17-Year-Old Boys

• 18 hours of technical instruction and repetitions
• 1 hour of coordination training
• 2 hours of speed exercises
• 6 hours of strength and endurance training (emphasis on endurance at this stage)
• 2 hours of flexibility-building exercises
• 1 hour of mental development training

30 hours per week for this age group. Most of these exercises and training sessions will require coaching supervision—this can add up and make tennis cost a lot of money.

One of the Hardest Sports to Go Pro in

This article is not intended to intimidate you, but it should be noted that it is extremely difficult for an individual to become a professional tennis player, even from a young age. Between the thousands of intense training hours, and the fact that this alone does not guarantee success, the whole undertaking can come across as incredibly daunting, if not lifestyle-altering—for both yourself and your child.

How hard is it to go pro in tennis relative to other sports? Let’s compare the processes of turning professional in tennis, to doing so in American football or baseball. In these team sports, players can go pro even while being mediocre at a few skills.

For example, in football, a wide receiver who is exceptional at catching the ball and running routes can be a superstar in the NFL, even if they can’t throw a football with a spiral to save their life. Or in baseball, if a player can condition their arm to be able to throw 95 miles per hour, but their hitting and running is dismal, then they can still be a flamethrower pitcher in the MLB.

If only tennis operated the same way.

We have all heard the phrases “jack-of-all-trades” and “master of one.” To truly build a career in professional tennis, a player must train to be a MASTER of ALL TRADES. If even one element of a pro’s tennis game is a liability, then opponents will always find a way to expose and take advantage of it.

Didn’t mean to scare you. 😉 If you are serious about this undertaking and are one hundred percent ready to commit, then you CANNOT get discouraged! Especially if you have a decent amount of money to put into coaching—unfortunately tennis is more of a pay-to-win sport at the professional level, relative to other sports—that’s just the way it is. When you get discouraged throughout the process, or you sense your child is losing interest in tennis, just remind yourselves that even the greats like Roger Federer had to start somewhere.

Going Pro in Tennis Isn’t for Everyone

Talk to any D1 college player, USTA league participant, or casual hitter who just plays for fun—none of them will have regrets. The benefits of playing tennis last a lifetime. If you are on the fence regarding choosing the best pathway for your child, it’s always best to gradually ease them into tennis. Fortunately, Kid Tennis Hub offers valuable resources to tennis parents such as yourself looking to introduce your child to the sport.

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