Understanding the Pro Tennis Ladder - How Do They Make It to the Top?

Tens of thousands officially declare themselves to be “professional tennis players”.

In other words, it means that these players are, in one way or another, part of the international tennis circuit.

It can be a very generic classification – after all, the tennis circuit is split into many different tiers.

The ITF World Tennis Tour, the WTA 125K Series, the WTA Tour, the ATP Challenger Tour, and the ATP Tour all fall under this umbrella.

So it’s only fair to wonder how this complicated system actually works.

Here is a guide that will help you understand the road pro players have to take in order to reach the summit.

To answer all your tennis related questions check out our ultimate tennis guide.

Getting Started: the ITF World Tennis Tour

The first step a young professional needs to take is getting into the ITF level tournaments.

The lowest tier of international competitions, the ITF is split into four different tournaments categories for men and nine for women.

The ITF Men’s Circuit features the 25+H, 25, 15+H and 15 tournaments – the number refers to the total prize pool, while H tournaments also cover for hospitality costs.

As for the Women’s Circuit, ITF tournaments are split into 100K+H, 100K, 75K+H, 75K, 50K+H, 50K, 25K, 15K and 10K.

The ITF circuit is quite interesting, as it features both young, up-and-coming players, as well as veterans chasing after the dream of making a living out of the sport.

For talented players, the ITF level is simply a stepping stone.

This is where the first big cut happens, as hanging around this level for too long won’t be enough to make a living.

Men’s tournament pays 10 ATP points at the 15 level and 20 points at the 25 level.

Women’s tournaments pay from 12 WTA points at the 10K level up to a respectable 150 at the 100K level.

This is part of the reason why experts consider the climb up the WTA rankings into the top 100 slightly quicker compared to the ATP.

The Second Tier – ATP Challenger Tour and WTA 125K Series

After making it out of Futures, the next steps are the ATP Challenger Tour for men and the WTA 125K Series for women.

These tournaments are run by the professional associations, marking a significant step for players.

All sorts of players compete at the Challenger Tour level, from young stars to journeymen pros and even former top 10 players.

The Challenger Tour is split into 125, 100, 100, 90 and 80 tournaments, the number referring to the amount of points paid to the champion.

The 125K tournaments pay 160 WTA ranking points, with a total prize pool of $125,000.

The prize pool for the Challenger Tour events fluctuates quite a bit, ranging from $100,000 to $150,000.

Some tournaments also cover hospitality costs, although the total prize pool takes a hit.

The Final Step – the ATP and WTA Tour

If a player achieves a high enough ranking at the Challenger Tour/125K Series level, it’s finally time to move on.

The ATP and WTA Tour are the top level of professional tennis, with a significant increase in prize money.

Players that manage to compete at this level are usually able to make a living out of the sport.

The ATP Tour is split into Masters 1000, ATP 500 and ATP 250 tournaments.

The WTA Tour, meanwhile, is split into Premier Mandatory, Premier 5, Premier and International level tournaments.

Finally, we also have the four major tournaments or Grand Slams.

Winning a Slam nets 2,000 points as well as a significant sum of prize money.

For the average pro player, simply making it to the first round could net enough money to pay out the year’s expenses.

The Tough Reality of Professional Players

While tens of thousands declare themselves as professional players, few of them can actually put a claim to this.

When factoring in traveling and hospitality costs, food, transportation, and the coaching staff, making a living out of the sport becomes increasingly difficult.

Only a few hundred players at the ATP and WTA levels actually make a profit at the end of the year.

In fact, the vast majority of players would consider breaking it even at the end of the season a major achievement.
For the latest PGA odds, head to William Hill NJ, bet365 NJ, or DraftKings Sportsbook.

Bet $50 Get $50 (in cash) by using the promo code WSN50 on William Hill.

Latest TENNIS Articles

View More
We've been featured on:
espn logo
reuters logo
cbs-news logo
forbes logo
entrepreneur logo
We only list licensed sportsbooks
18-plus
800 gambler black logo dmca logo gig media power affiliate ranking gig media igb best casino affiliate winner

© Rebel Penguin ApS 2022 (a subsidiary of Gaming Innovation Group Inc.)

We support responsible gambling. If you feel like you're losing control over your gambling experience, call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ, PA, WV), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA), 1-800-522-4700 (NV), 1-800-522-4700 (CO, TN), 1-855-2CALLGA (IL), 1-800-270-7117 (MI).

WSN.com is registered with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) under affiliate vendor ID 89744, with the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) under certificate of registration number SWR-000148, approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board as a gaming service provider, under certificate registration number 117656-1, possesses a Vendor Minor sports betting license from the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (account number 94414163), granted a vendor registration number VR007603-20-001 by the Michigan Gaming Control Board, an interim Sports Wagering Supplier license, under license number SWS 066, issued by the West Virginia Lottery Commission, a sports betting vendor registration, under registration number #100400, issued by the Director of Gaming Licensing and Investigations of the Virginia Lottery to operate in the State of Virginia, and a Vendor Registration issued by the Sports Wagering Committee of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation.

Advertising disclosure: WSN contains links to online retailers on its website. When people click on our affiliate links and make purchases, WSN earns a commission from our partners, including ESPN and various sportsbooks.