In May, freshman Artem Kapshuk competed in his second professional tournament in the International Tennis Federation Futures Tour in Ukraine in doubles.
His total payout for the week was $64, split between him and his partner.
“You really have to invest a lot of money and travel a lot,” senior Santiago Canete said. “You have a lot of pressure out there too because you’re either spending your parents’ money, and if you don’t do good, you went there for nothing.”
Student-athletes who play tennis in professional tournaments, like the Futures event, are prohibited from wearing any college apparel on the court and must use their prize money toward trip-participating expenses in the tournament.
If an incoming college player competes in a Futures tournament before enrolling as a student, he or she must sign an NCAA agreement that states they didn’t use the money for personal use before being admitted to the team.
Canete and senior Nicolas Paulus competed in Futures tournaments before coming to Temple in 2012. Kapshuk and freshmen Uladzimir Dorash both played in 2015.
In comparison to professional golf, the 250th ranked golfer made $1,049,549 during the 2015, while the 250th ranked tennis player has made $61,236.
“It’s a pretty tough sport to become professional in out of college,” Paulus said. “Maybe if you’re really good, you can get near the Top 700. It’s really tough to make money out of it and eventually a living out of it in the long run.”
Futures tournaments are the lowest-tier event in professional tennis. They are the precursor to Challenger tour tournaments, which are the middle tier, and eventually the Association of Tennis Professional World Tour. To gain entry into Futures tournaments, competitors must have either a high ITF juniors rankings or be given a wildcard entry into an event.
“I was 16 years old then, when I played my first time, and it was an interesting experience,” Dorash said. “I decided to focus on my junior career more because it is much harder to compete at that level and have fun.”
The average total prize purse for Futures tournaments range from $10,000-15,000. Players who lose in the first round receive between $100-150.
Paulus, who played in one career doubles event in a Germany F4 tournament, made the semifinals and received $195. He is the only current Temple player to have a professional ranking, which peaked at 1,326 in 2012.
“The environment in Futures is different because everyone is from somewhere around the world,” Paulus said. “Everyone is on their way to getting better.”
Five players who played college tennis are currently inside the ATP singles Top 100 rankings. In doubles, there are two inside the Top 50.
“It definitely depends where you’re going,” Paulus said. “In the NCAA, there haven’t been a lot of people in the Top 100, so it shows the quality of level to get there. You can certainly see a comparison there.”
Neither Paulus nor Canete foresees a future in playing tennis professionally, but both could play again to relive the competitive setting.
“I don’t have expectations to play professional at all,” Canete said. “I would do it again maybe for fun because we have played tennis all of our lives. It’s kind of sad after this year to stop like this and be done.”
Mark McCormick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.