Umpires Leave With More Cash in Their Tennis Bag Than the Tennis Players

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Money for NothingSome major athletes have made millions by showcasing their talent in public arenas, leaving matches stuffing loads of cash into their tennis bags. Roger Federer, for instance, is the top paid tennis competitor with about 41.8 million in prize winnings.  Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and the Williams sisters have also made a pretty penny  by playing in some of the world’s most prestigious tennis tournaments.  Although the lucky few earn a living that would be hard to spend in a lifetime, the payoff for some athletes is surprisingly small. At Futures tennis events, for example, the players may leave with less than the chair umpires.

The USTA Pro Circuit can easily be compared to the minor leagues of tennis. The circuit is composed of 88 events; “Futures” events with the prize money totaling around $10,000 to $15,000 and “Challenger” events with the total prize money running in the $50,000 to $100,000 range.

Recently, in Vero Beach, Fla. there was a $10,000 futures event where Australian player, John-Patrick Smith won the title over Brazilian, Pedro Zerbini. The crowd consisted of more than 300 tennis fans that each paid either $10 or $20 for their seat.

Smith`s prize money for his title win totaled $1,300 as well his prize money for willing the doubles title which totaled $630 which he split with his partner, American, Benjamin Rogers. Runner- up Zerbini took home $900. Zerbini was participating in Vero Beach for nine days playing eight matches; the breakdown being $100 per day.

Another player, Kriegler Brink earned $200 when he made it to the second round of the singles matches where he lost to Zerbini.

Up and coming American player, Tennys (pronounced “tennis”) Sandgren also made it to the semifinals in this Futures event and raked in a whopping $480.

The players who took place in this event were able to stay at hotels in the area and in some cases can stay for free with local families willing to help out an aspiring athlete. The hotels typically run about $125 per night. In Zerbini`s case, if he did stay in a hotel for the nine days he participated in the tournament , it would have cost him $1125, before tax, which put him at $225 in the hole!

The hotel is only one expense that the players must accept when playing at this event; although the tournament offers lunches, every other meal and expense must come out of the players pocket, so in reality, it costs some, if not all of the players money to compete in this specific event.

Surprising as it may be, however, the umpires and officials working this event may actually leave with more money in their tennis bag than the players. Vero Beach Futures tournament director, Mike Rahaley, was given $4,500 to pay the umpires and officials  (at a tournament at this level there is typically three to five umpires and officials). Not only that but the tournament pays for the official’s room and board fees which ran about $3,000.

Similar to an aspiring actor, a young tennis player trying to make it to the Grand Slams is going to have to sacrifice in more ways than one including accepting these small paychecks.  Despite the small paychecks that don`t even cover their expenses, the motivation is obvious. Leaving with less cash in their tennis bag than they came with is hopefully just a stepping stone to the “major leagues.”

Courtney Sloan is a copywriter and a college student majoring in mass media. As a copywriter with a love of tennis, Courtney has made it her assignment to research tennis news, highlights, products and more and share her findings with the tennis community. 

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Famous Tennis Players: Profile of Andy Roddick

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Andy Roddick at the 2009 US Open

Image via Wikipedia

When it comes to American tennis, Andy Roddick has been the lone hope for men’s tennis success on the ATP tour.  American tennis fans have been spoiled over the years with incredible amounts of talent.  After Sampras, Agassi, Connors, and other greats, we’ve become greedy for more quality tennis players.  Roddick has proved a solid player, but he hasn’t been able to live up to these great expectations.  Aside from his single US Open title, Roddick has been unable to capture any other major tournament trophies.  His modus operandi has been consistency over the years, rather than big victories.  Roddick nears the end of a great career where he has been a permanent fixture in the top ten, but his inability to win big titles has been frustrating for both him and the American fans.

The Andy Roddick Tennis Game and Serve

Roddick is among the greatest tennis players famous for their serves.  The Roddick serve was consistently the biggest of his day, often nearing 140 mph.  His serve at 155 mph held the record for fastest until Ivo Karlovic one upped him with a 156 mph one.  Serving has always been a staple of the Roddick game, but it has made him terribly one dimensional.  The American was once regarded as a heavy hitter–though his weapons no longer pack the punch they once did.  The forehand is less effective and powerful, while players in the men’s game have grown used to heavy hitting and Roddick’s power isn’t quite as special as it once was.  His serve is still a weapon, but it is a rarity for him to be able to back up powerful serving with consistent returns.

It was only a few years ago that Roddick’s game was a fierce proposition on the grass at Wimbledon.  He exhibited incredible performances reaching back to back finals, only to be dismissed by an unbeatable Roger Federer.  In an era without such a dominant grass player it’s almost certain that Roddick would have secured at least one Wimbledon title.

No longer is Roddick able to push opponents around the baseline with his ground strokes.  He has transitioned from different coaches over the years (Gilbert and Connors recently) finally settling on Larry Stefanki.  Stefanki’s resume is nothing short of spectacular, having coached players like McEnroe, Rios, and Kafelnikov.  The adjustment for Roddick has been to mix up his game more.  He realizes that he cannot compete in long and drawn out baseline rallies.  Smart and aggressive tennis is the only option left for success.  Well timed tactical ventures to the net are now a common part of the Roddick game.  Stefanki, and others, have brought Roddick’s game to a strategic level that really eclipses his former self.  The problem is that the power of the men’s game has passed Roddick by.  While he can no longer hang in rallies with big hitters, he must find solutions in difficult shot combinations and consistent execution.

Roddick’s Future Goals

At 30 Roddick has a few good years left if he stays in top condition.  From this point in his career it is unlikely he can still vie for grand slam titles against the likes of Djokovic, but that doesn’t mean he can’t continue to compete at a high level.  It’s unfortunate for Roddick that he has recently fallen out of the top eight.  This drop will exclude him from the end of the year ATP World Tour Finals held in London.   The next few years will see Roddick take down a handful of smaller titles on hard court tennis surfaces to add to an already impressive resume.  Unfortunately for Roddick, American tennis fans will continue to be unsatisfied with such results.

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The difference between winning and losing is work ethic and mental toughness.

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What did we learn from the British Open?

Tom Watson gave all of us that are older than dirt and even a few that are older than rock a warm feeling by his outstanding British Open. Watson is almost 60. He fought back several times and came within inches of winning the tournament in regulation. Granted, he missed a makable putt on the 18th green to fall into a playoff and then struggled in overtime. However, his performance along with that of Greg Norman last year at the British point out 2 very important points. First, the British Open requires a lot more patience than strength and more experience than power. But the most important lesson from the Open is this. Younger players in almost all sports win or lose based on work ethic and mental toughness more often than on talent and athleticism.

In general, the work ethic of the current group of golfers is not nearly what it was in the days of Nicholas, Palmer, and Player. The equipment is much better now. The athleticism is at a higher level than in the 60’s through the 80’s. One reason that Tiger Woods has been able to dominate the golf scene over the last few years is his work ethic and mental toughness against the other top golfers.

Work ethic and mental toughness show themselves in other sports

Those same two qualities show themselves in other sports as well. Check out the off season headlines Tom Brady and Tony Romo. Brady wins playoff games while Romo struggles in key situations including the 4th quarter and playoff games.

In ProSportsDaily.com the top 4 Brady headlines are “Tom Brady, Randy Moss go the extra mile to reconnect”, “Tom Brady to Randy Moss A blast from the past”, “Knee surgeon Wins High Praise from Brady”, and “Catch up time with Brady”

How about those about Romo?

From Google we see articles like “Romo says kids should play more than 1 sport‎”, “Tony Romo broke up with Jessica Simpson”, “Tony Romo fires a 69 at American Century Celebrity Golf Tournament”, and “Is John Mayer responsible for Simpson, Romo split?‎” Nothing about football, the Cowboys, or his focus and dedication to win it all in 2009. I think Jerry Jones has a work ethic problem with his QB.

Romo enjoys the celebrity status he gets from football. Tom Brady is too busy trying to win to enjoy his.

Another example of dedication, mental toughness and work ethic is Lance Armstrong. He now is second just 1:36 behind his team mate Alberto Contador. He may value the team result at this point in his life as much as the individual win. He may or may not win the yellow jersey in the end. I think that if the leader was a member of another team, he would win it as much for his team as for himself.

But he has been away for 3 years, battled back from cancer, and is 10 years older than the majority of his competitors. He is still is leading the rest of the pack.

Golf and tennis suffer the most from so many talented players lacking work ethic and mental toughness but it shows up in other sports as well. Roger Federer and the Williams sisters dominate tennis with their minds and focus as much as they do with their physical skills. Don’t expect to see that change any time soon. Work ethic and mental toughness goes a long way to winning in any sport.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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