Are you looking to kick-start your career as a tennis player but don’t know how long it could take to get to a certain level? In this article below we explain the different factors that could come into play and the time it could take for you to learn tennis.
Tennis is one of the most popular individual sports in the world and despite competition from other racket sports like badminton, table tennis and even pickleball it continues to remain one that attracts most players and fans alike.
With a long and rich history associated with tennis, and the fact that it gets people outside their homes and is a great form of exercise but at the same time being a fun sport, it’s no surprise tennis is so popular all around the world.
Whether as a hobby or as a full-time professional occupation, tennis has shown steady growth and more and more people are taking to it every year.
If you are among those who wants to kick-start your tennis journey but aren’t sure how much time it could take before you can become competitive in the sport, our article below helps you find that out.
To give you a quick perspective here, depending on the level at which you want to to play tennis it could take anywhere between six months to two decades to get good at it.
Before we get down to that though, the important thing to note is that there are different levels of competitiveness associated with tennis – like most other sports – and it’s important to know what level are you targeting. Because the time taken to get to those levels would be different as you would expect.
Tennis Competitiveness Levels & Time Taken to Get There
As mentioned earlier, you will need different amount of time to learn tennis depending on the kind of progress you want to make. Here’re some of the levels you want to get to playing tennis and how long it could take to get there.
At this level, you are looking to just have some fun over the weekends.
Typically you and your group of friends or family want to play the sport as a form of socializing or exercise or cardio, share a few laughs while doing so and at the same time, probably compete for that feel-good, oft-self-proclaimed, best-in-the-neighborhood title.
You probably have a club membership which you use every now and have a fun, singles or doubles match with your friends at this level but with no aspiration of growing any further in the sport.
At this level, you probably want to be able to play most of the shots and have reasonably long rallies to feel good about yourself while doing so too. It might not start off on an easy note to begin with but once you get a hang of it with regular practice, you could become good at this recreational level.
It could take anywhere between six to 12 months of regular tennis-playing at some regularity to get to this level, and you could have a lot of fun playing tennis at this level!
Intermediate without Making it a Career
Many of the students of tennis fall in this category as they look to build their game from being only recreational to becoming intermediate players.
You will need to undergo tennis coaching or if you cannot afford that, take self-driven lessons from YouTube to learn and practice tennis on a regular basis.
If you are already playing tennis for a while, you can easily aim to get to this level with consistent practice but it could take you about two to three years of that kind of dedication to get there.
You will need to practice tennis multiple times every week and aim to improve on one or the other facet of your game every week.
To give you a perspective, if you are on court playing this sport four times a week for a couple of hours each, you are looking at about 400 hours of tennis in a year’s time. That might not be enough to get to intermediate level for most – unless you are naturally very gifted – but with more than 1000 hours of practice you might get there.
And not just tennis, what you would also need to do is to pay attention to your workouts and diet to go with that. Regular exercise to strengthen the core will prevent you from injuries and add strength to your shot-making.
Other than that, it is also imperative to try and get yourself a hitting partner which will help you fine-tune your game even further.
Competitive at Club-Level Tournaments
The next step after you have begun playing at an intermediate level is to participate in tournaments organized by your club or even the USTA. You can find a list of all the tournaments that USTA organizes, for instance, here.
To start playing at this level and doing so well enough that you can start going deeper into this competitions, you will need at least five years, if not more. And it’s not just about the amount of time but what you do with it that will make all the difference.
For instance, you will need personal coaching lessons to learn the nuances of the game which otherwise are difficult to figure out on your own. You would also need to start looking at investing more money into getting some of the best tennis equipment you can including higher end tennis rackets.
This is over and above the need to look after your workout and diet which you would have to do in a basic form even as an intermediate tennis player.
Some of the top players in the world of tennis like Danielle Collins and John Isner have one thing in common – they have come through the collegiate tennis ranks. Some of the other such players include Marcos Giron, Maxime Cressy, Jennifer Brady and Kristie Ahn, all of whom achieved solid results featuring in collegiate competitions.
Players with an ITF Ranking are typically accepted here and to get to those levels of competitiveness, you will need to start training early. Preferably before you have turned 10.
The thing here is that as a kid one needs to show enough talent as a tennis player for there to be a plan in place chalked out before one can think of becoming a regular at collegiate competitions.
There have been instances of tennis players going pro after graduating, which makes the level of tennis here quite intense. You will need years and years of dedicated practice with some of the top coaches to get to these levels and hope everything falls in place with respect to fitness and finances as well.
It could take about a decade to get to this level.
This is the highest level at which you could play tennis. You will need to be good enough to make that switch to being a pro, winning matches at the amateur level, capture tournaments at the junior level and try and finish in the top 25 at those lower levels by the time you are off your teens.
Even at the professional level, you could have a career where you finish up playing Futures competitions on the men’s circuit and ITF competitions on the women’s tour.
A notch above that would be featuring in Challenger competitions before things start to get really serious when players break into the top 100 of the tennis rankings on the ATP and WTA tour.
The amount of time to get here could be the most variable and most of the tennis-playing fans won’t even get here.
Those who are very talented and are spotted early by those nurturing talent which include coaches and academies could get here as quickly as in 15 years. There are those late bloomers who have begun playing the sport at a very young and break into the top 100 quite late.
American tennis star, Cori Gauff, for instance, began playing tennis at the age of six and became a top 100 player at the age of 15 – a whoppingly short journey to get there. She would go on to become a top 10 player.
On the other hand, another American Jeff Salzenstein was 30 years old when he broke into the top 100 of the men’s rankings, making it more than 20 years he took to get there. And that remained his career-best ranking.
To sum this up, you would have to probably start playing tennis at a very young age – possibly around five years – and train regularly enough to make it a part of your DNA, your muscle memory. With proper guidance and good coaching, you could become a professional tennis player in anywhere between 10 to 20 years.
Final Words on the Time Taken to Become a Tennis Player
Tennis is a great sport to play but it does take time to get to a certain quality level as a tennis player.
Depending on that level, it could take someone anywhere between six months to 20 years to become a tennis player, with beginners needing just a few weeks to get to a reasonable level of comfort while advanced professionals requiring the best part of anywhere between one to two decades to make the cut.