Making it on the Pro Tour
Making it on the pro tour in tennis is probably at the top of the list of most difficult sports to make a living at. So many things go into it. Fitness, technique, dedication, tactical skills, mental toughness just to name a few. I was fortunate growing up in my early 20s to work with Jack Reader and I gave playing professional tennis a 4 year try. My best ranking was 250 in the world. I never made much money but the experience was incredible and has helped me in all aspects of my life.
Jack has gone on to amazing things in coaching since then. He took a 19 year old Alex dolgapolov from 600 hundred in the world to number 15. Since there split in 2011 jack worked with a few young pros and then was hired to coach victor troiki in 2012 at the time his ranking was slipping. Jack was then instrumental in revitalizing victors career and helping him get back into the top 20 again. The following year at Monte Carlo victor was asked to give a urine sample which he did and it came back negative for any drugs. At the time he was not feeling well he was asked to take a blood sample he was told he could come back the following day to give the blood sample. which he did again the results came back negative. Two months later he was told that he would be suspended for 1 year. The lady that told him he could come back the next day changed her story. Rather then give up on victor and take a large buy out in his contract, jack chose to stick with victor. After being unable to play tournaments for a whole year his ranking slipped to 900 in the world. With a ranking that low a player would normally be looking at 2 to 3 years before they can expect to be back to there original ranking which was around 40 at the time of his suspension.
When returning back with a ranking of 900 you are forced to return back to the minor leagues of tennis which is the futures and challenger tour. Conditions are much different from the main tour. Small towns cheap hotels and tough competition! If you ask most top ranked players on the tour they will tell you that there is not a huge difference between the players at the challenger level and top top atp tour events. Fortunately for victor he had jack! Jack thrives under those conditions and he amazingly took victor right back up the ranks. He came back in July and won 4 out of 6 challenger events made a few quarter and semis in some 250 tour events and then in January qualified at Sydney and went on to winning the tournament! He then won 2 rounds at the Aussie open until finally losing to Thomas Berdych.
These stories don’t always make headlines unfortunately. Maybe the next you say jack reader in the stands of a big event you will have more appreciation of what he had to go through in order to go that far in coaching at that level.