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While there are certainly many ways to get a tennis sponsor, some basic first steps would be:
1. Get a competitive coach. Not all coaches will encourage or guide you to competitive matches and tournaments even though they may be great instructors and people. Ideally, a coach has a lot of experience in both improving players' games and in preparing them for match play in a professional environment. Very generally speaking, this mindset and professional track is found in Florida. Frequently, younger players with a lot of potential go to tennis schools, like Nick Bollettieri's, to receive expert coaching, conditioning, and guidance.
2. Play a lot of matches and improve your ranking statewide and then nationwide. Get as many matches under your belt before you attempt larger tournaments (meaning anything on the pro circuit; see the USTA Web site and ITF Web site for dates and listings).
3. When you win a fairly large tournament or even match (if you were ranked below your opponent prior to the match, for example), try and network with the professionals there, either coaches or players. Hopefully, your coach will be doing this as well. Use your day's success to introduce yourself to the players that are being watched by potential sponsors or are already sponsored, and then you can research that player's history. Compare your experiences: how fast did his or her ranking rise as compared to your ranking, for example. Once you know the sponsor market, you can begin preparing.
4. Some good preparation ideas are getting a video of your shots (forehand, backhand, the always-important serve, etc.) and knowing what you are worth before you are even approached. This way, if you are approached by a potential sponsor, you are ready to act on the opportunity.
So, in sum: get a great coach, play a lot of matches, improve your ranking, and talk to people who are already sponsored.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|