While scrolling through some old bookmarks, I ran into an edition of Jon Wertheim‘s Mailbag, with some sage advice on pursuing a career in pro tennis.
1. Your passion for the sport is admirable, but that alone won’t get you hired. Figure out your skills and how they will translate to a job in tennis. (Of course, a 135-mph serve is a good start.)
2. Think outside the (service) box. A horrible cliché, I realize, but one that rings true in this case. Sure, you can aspire to the obvious tennis-related jobs — tournament director, player agent, USTA president — but the odds are steep. Why not try and break into the profession by, say, selling ads for Tennis Magazine or doing p.r. for the firm retained by Dunlop rackets. Something (cliché alert) off the beaten path but one that will still gain you entrée into the sport.
3. Go to a pro event. Even the smaller events are full of agents, coaches, tour administrators, clothing/shoe/racket reps and media types. It’s a good way to make contacts and snag some business cards.
4. For the misguided few who want to be tennis writers, my sage advice is to write. Write for your college newspaper, your church bulletin, your neighborhood-block-watch newsletter, even your own Web site. It doesn’t matter how prestigious the periodical, but you need to be published somewhere. Editors will be able to recognize talent when they see it.
I know some of you readers are itching to write about tennis. So make sure to act on #4 as soon as you can. And if you’re fortunate enough to have a tournament in your area, make arrangements to go. Take a day off, go to an early day session (to get the most matches in with the least number of spectators), and don’t be afraid to chat people up! Don’t forget to bring business cards.