What type of tennis career you can have after juniors?

Playing any sport for many years is a demanding challenge and most of the people can’t imagine their lives without this particular activity. Either you are top 10 in the country or you participate in local tournaments, we face the same dilemma when turning 18. What’s next? What should I do with my tennis? Should I focus solely on this sport and sacrifice everything else? These and other questions are common for athletes around the world and most of the time, this is the first serious decision they have to make as mature people. Tennis doesn’t have to be abandoned while other duties come so we should know what opportunities lay ahead to choose the best one for us.

 

            Mastering any sport’s skills take many years to achieve high-performance level. Fore example in tennis, according to researchers, we need 10 years or 10,000 hours to get to the top of personal best. Taking this time into consideration, we can clearly see that playing decent tennis is not just a hobby; it is sacrifice of many factors during at least 10 years period. For professional players, the whole situation is even harder because period of time they have to sacrifice is their childhood and growing up time. Many “normal” kids play video games, go to the cinema and hang out with friends while serious athletes take racket on the court and run for many hours chasing own excellence. This is the journey to achieve various goals like international recognition or high-level of tennis performance. On the other hand, serious practice teaches much more than athletic abilities;  it shapes personality, shows crucial life values and gives possibility to fight against own weaknesses.

 

Looking at this aspect from retired tennis players’ perspective, I can truly say, that taking part in this journey called “Tennis”, was the fact which shaped their personality and changed many childish perspectives in their life. They didn’t understand these advantages from the beginning but with age, they became more and more conscious of changes that were made inside their minds. Tennis players always say that they appreciate everything they got from tennis but they also had to face the problem what to do after juniors tennis. Coaches, parents and current players around the world know how hard it is to make decision what to do with one of the most important parts of own life. I know how many pros and cons we have to compare to choose only one which can have influence on the rest part of our lives. To make this decision easier, there are 4 major areas that players should consider while turning 18 and choose one that they are sure they won’t regret.

 

Going professional

This is the goal of many kids but perspective of this choice changes when we are older and “smarter”. I said “smarter” because we think we know most of the advantages and disadvantages of taking this risk and we calculate if we are capable of doing it or not. On the other hand, while being young, we see everything in bright colors and we are rarely negative in comparison to adults. Sometimes mature players lack of this kind of free thinking and believing without worrying too much. However, if we are ready to take this step and try to go pro, we have to be conscious that this decision is personal and we will do everything what we can to achieve our goals. There is no worse feeling than regret of any action so if we strive for excellence and chase to become number one player in the world, there are no excuses for tired body, bad mood or horrible weather conditions. Every day, every time we step on the court, the minimum effort is 100 %. Without this discipline, going pro is just a dream with zero chances to achieve something.

 

Going to college

Continuing education and going to the college/university is a great way for thousands of players. There is no risk of blind future and we can still develop in 2 major areas of our lives: sport and education. American colleges offer great opportunities for athletes to train and compete as professionals and to not forget about education as a major factor of adult life. Colleges and universities have high-performance facilities which foreign athletes can only dream about in their countries. That is why going to college can be a good step forward not only in education but also in sport development. Whole individual approach to the player with nutritionist, physio, coach, assistant coach, psychologist and many other important people is a great experience and shows partly what top players have all day all night. However, many athletes still believe that college closes door to the professional tennis and they don’t want to take it. In my opinion, reality is completely different because you can train with great players and be surrounded by highly-skilled staff on daily basis and after graduating, you can turn pro as a much better and experienced player than you were few years before.

 

Becoming a coach

This is the way that many players choose because it is the easiest one. You are known for your playing ability so people trust you that your coaching skills are not weaker. Of course, this is not true most of the time but it gives a great opportunity to start career as a coach. Working hard, educating and develop in a new role can make this job as much interesting as it was playing on the court itself. If you love tennis and you like to share your knowledge, this is perfect solution to earn your living while doing what you like. However, many ex-players don’t understand responsibility of this profession so they are on court just to get money. Coaching is a demanding occupation and without proper approach and effort, we hurt people and possible future stars. Being a good player gives you an edge while starting coaching but don’t use it wrongly!

 

Stay with it for yourself

If any of above options doesn’t fit you, my advice is to stay with tennis as an activity. Play from time to time with your friends and have fun on court. You can still develop by setting new goals and taking your tennis to higher levels. Maybe you won’t win any Grand Slam in your life but you will be in shape and your self-esteem will be high. Also, many employers like when their workers take part in sport activities so this factor can decide about getting the job you have dreamed about.

 

            Tennis is a great sport which can be with us for many years but we can’t avoid hard decisions to make. Turning 18 and taking care of own life is a challenging task so we have to make smart decision to have no regrets in future. Knowing what we want from life and how we can get there is the first step to choose one option over another. I know that many players believe that they have to be top 100 or they lost but it is not true; use your achieved skills to build your life successfully!