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Article in l’Équipe print edition April 7 2015 by Julien Reboullet

“It ends up getting depressing.” Antoine Benneteau, Julien’s younger brother and once ranked 370 in the world, talks about his experience at tennis’ bottom echelon between 2011 and 2014, “a world of scraping by.”

After studying in the United states, Andtoine Benneteau, at the age of twenty-five, tried his hand at playing professional tennis in 2011. He shared hotel rooms with Élie Rousset [see this piece for more on Élie] . But, after three years, drained by a system that obliges you to count every penny, he gave up on his dream. Today he’s an intern at L’Équipe 21 and hopes to become a sports journalist. He reviews his first career.

Of course you’re a professional when you play on the Futures tour because you put in the same number of hours training as the best players and you invest the same amount in personal sacrifices, clean living, family ties, friends etc. The difference is that even when you do it to earn a living, you end up doing it for as little cost as possible. When you say you’re leaving to play a $10K, it doesn’t mean the winner gets $10,000. That’s the total prize money. The winner gets something like $1,000 [€911]. When you decide to go on a several week road trip at the other end of world, that’s not a lot. In May 2012 I left for Mexico and put together, in three tournaments, title-final-final. Even though the cost of living isn’t very high there, even though you try and find the least expensive flights, ones with multiple flight changes, even though you have five hour trips in unlikely vehicles in the middle of the night … In short, even if you’re very careful with every expense, you hardly make ends meet. On this trip I had to make do with winnings of 200 or 300 euros maximum.

“You really get to know yourself”


Obviously it’s nothing like the “big” tour. For example, while the best get six or eight racquets strung for every match, even ones they don’t use, I had one racquet strung for every tournament because it’s 15 dollars each. At this level you never get anything from equipment sponsors. I was lucky enough to get my shoes, my clothing, my racquets and and my stringing, which wasn’t too bad. French players at that level can rely on some brands. But how many ‘foreign’ players get free tee-shirts? It’s a world of scraping by.

Before a long journey you always look to see if there are other Frenchmen signed up for those ‘exotic’ tournaments. That way you can share rooms [accommodation is almost never paid by the tournaments any more], we co-ordinate flights, we can play doubles together. And we have someone we can train and eat with. The week gets easier.

At twenty-five, in the summer of 2011, I started off from zero after my university thing and I got up to a ranking of 700 in my first year. The second year, 370. I had some matches then that could have turned things around, brought me higher. There were missed match points etc. The real markers are 500, 350 and 250. Once you’re at 250, you can play Challengers, get a shot at Slam qualies. You get a glimpse of what you’re looking for a bit. You have to be gripped by the system. But the system ends up wearing down your passion. At some point you look at the number of hours spent on court, how much money you’ve spent and how much you’ve made …and it ends up getting depressing. I quit, but I have no regrets; I travelled around the world, you really get to know yourself and you learn ten thousand times more. It’s a school of life.

https://tennistranslations.wordpress.com/2015/04/12/it-ends-up-getting-depressing-antoine-benneteau-juliens-younger-brother-on-life-on-the-futures-tour/

 

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Poor guy, but then again I envy him. I would love to go around living on noodles and beans on can playing futures all over the world. Living and breathing tennis for 5-6 years.
 

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ATP need at least to sponsor hotels and food perdiem for players.
Yes, I think there should be free food in all futures tournament and free hotel, coming from the big tournaments in ATP. Not for egalitarian purposes, but to create a more competitive sport where it is easier to climb.
 

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I always thought Futures was more place for younger players to build their rankings, not to make a living in?
 

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The guy should keep his mouth shut and learn what being economical means.

Johnny Groove would make a fortune only by playing futures.
 

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Even though it's only a future, hotel Accomodation and food perdiem is not too much to ask for tournament organizers who supposed to get sponsors.

Not all futures are held in one city. You still need to travel and invest. No wonder tennis is called a rich mans sport.
 

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Thanks for posting. I feel exactly the way he feels. It's such a grind out there.
 

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It's basically $100 a night to stay in the tournament hotel, unless you are sharing the room. Its so hard out there. I guess we really do it for the love of the game.
 

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Poor guy, but then again I envy him. I would love to go around living on noodles and beans on can playing futures all over the world. Living and breathing tennis for 5-6 years.
that's exactly right and exactly the point.

Besides, Antoine is by far not the best example of misery on tour, considering a couple things - French (big number of players to help each other out) 2. Benneteau's bro (some potential support, doors opened, sponsor connections for at least the low level stuff) 3. He was in college in the States (i suppose)

So the guy eventually had an Uni diploma, played tennis, had a shot at making it pro, didn't make it and now has potential for an awesome job.

There are much, much worse stories in tennis. But that's life, there is little to do about it (not nothing, coz they could improve at least the hospitality conditions).

You never hear about career ending injuries at 17 or so, which put you already in a much worse position, coz you've spent so much more time on courts than in school f.e.

But what can you do? You (and your parents) take a risk for a carrier path and it has the potential failure in the context, inevitably.

Not so much worse than the guys who've built factories to produce VHS tapes, or the Lemon bros employees, or [insert any similar life situation here], etc.

I would love it if a top 600-700 level was enough to make a living off, as my kid is training hard (he's 11, second is 6, will start soon), but there will be a choice for me to make when he's 12-14 and it will depend on my ability to be unbiased about his talent and potential, and my ability to grant him enough resource to make it up to a certain point.

Sometimes parents fail at being objective and the results are the way they are. But not like Antoine, he's a (potentially) graduate who gave a shot at his dream, with a good career ahead of him now. Nothing to complain about.
 

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this interview :bowdown:

hope some more people get interested about futures tour. definately many things to be changed there...
 

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Futures tour is some kind of globetrotting adventure for tennis players. Young players who are not able to play challlengers yet, that's one thing. But 25+year-old players still travelling around the globe and playing in front of 1 1/2 spectators in order to earn 200 bucks? Sorry, but that's just that: backpacking. Street musicians do the same. There's obviously nothing wrong with it, it's quite cool, but please .... don't complain about it, as if you deserved something better.
It's a way of life.

And btw: it's, in this case, obviously a first world way of life. It's not like these guys play tennis to survive, they can do anything they want (Benneateau becoming a journalist now). They're quite privileged, thus I don't entirely get this "I'm so depressed, let me whine a bit"-thing. Can't really compare them to Top 100 players who struggle to pay off their mortgage.
 

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What's depressing about it?

Playing professional tennis is similar to starting a new business, being an entrepreneur, and trying to be on your own. A lot of people take risks in starting new businesses every day and a lot of new businesses fail.

If you have balls to take risks, invest time and money, go through the process and can make it to all 4 grand slams in a year and lose first round, you make USD 140,000.

The Rafas, Rogers, Noles, Andys have gone through the same process and are multi-millionaires now, which you cannot dream of by working day-to-day jobs.
 

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If you have balls to take risks, invest time and money, go through the process and can make it to all 4 grand slams in a year and lose first round, you make USD 140,000.

The Rafas, Rogers, Noles, Andys have gone through the same process and are multi-millionaires now, which you cannot dream of by working day-to-day jobs.
This is specious reasoning.

You definitely can dream of becoming a multi-millionaire working day-to-day jobs. Many multi-millionaires started out working day-to-day jobs, as a matter of fact.

A Top 1000 tennis player is barely scraping by. Do you think a Top 1000 doctor, engineer, accountant, etc. (if there were such rankings) wouldn't be much better off? Only when you get to Top 200-100 territory you are actually earning decent money playing tennis... Which is ridiculous. MLB has a minimum salary of $500,000, which is what the bottom of the barrel major leaguers earn. These are players in Top 2000+ of baseball.
 

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This is specious reasoning.

You definitely can dream of becoming a multi-millionaire working day-to-day jobs. Many multi-millionaires started out working day-to-day jobs, as a matter of fact.

A Top 1000 tennis player is barely scraping by. Do you think a Top 1000 doctor, engineer, accountant, etc. (if there were such rankings) wouldn't be much better off? Only when you get to Top 200-100 territory you are actually earning decent money playing tennis... Which is ridiculous. MLB has a minimum salary of $500,000, which is what the bottom of the barrel major leaguers earn. These are players in Top 2000+ of baseball.
Or not play a sport, not go to a college and be debt-ridden, and just be a Top 1000 burger-flipper/French Fries frier at a fast food chain, make a minimum wage, and easily live 80 years or so of healthy life and die. :rolleyes:
 

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Or not play a sport, not go to a college and be debt-ridden, and just be a Top 1000 burger-flipper/French Fries frier at a fast food chain, make a minimum wage, and easily live 80 years or so of healthy life and die. :rolleyes:
I went to college and I am not debt-ridden. I was actually free of debt within a year, and I earn more than most professional tennis players. And I don't think I am anywhere near the Top 1000 in my profession, worldwide.
 
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