Aug 28, 2019

Lesser-seen part of the tennis world lacks the glamour of the court

Tennis player Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka. Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

Yesterday at the U.S. Open, Nick Kyrgios put on a show, 15-year-old Coco Gauff won her debut, Naomi Osaka and Rafael Nadal took care of business and Stefanos Tsitsipas said this to an umpire: "Because you're French probably, and you're all weirdos!"

The big picture: That's the side of tennis that we see — world-famous athletes competing on well-maintained courts. But what about the side that we don't see? What about the players far removed from the spotlight, who don't have teams or leagues to cover their expenses?

  • 22-year-old tennis pro Noah Rubin launched an Instagram account called "Behind the Racquet" to shed light on this lesser-seen part of the tennis world.
  • Inspired by "Humans of New York," Rubin tells the stories of the non-household names who have opened up to him about things like financial pressure and eating disorders.

The bottom line: "Pro tennis can resemble a lopsided joust between the haves and the have-nots, with the best players traveling with entourages aboard private jets, and good chunk of the field trying to break through without going broke," writes Wall Street Journal's Jason Gay.

  • "This disparity is unlike other major sports. The 100th-best men's soccer or basketball player in the world is usually quite wealthy. A pro men's golfer can be ranked outside the top 100 and still make more than a million dollars a year. Tennis isn't like that."
  • Adds Rubin: "If you don't have a coach, you're [financially] breaking even probably at 180th, 200th in the world. If you're 250th in the world ... you're probably in the red."

Go deeper... Forbes: The U.S. Open is more lucrative than ever. So why is it so hard for players to make a buck?

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