I wrote this for individual players & families who are trying to proceed in junior competitive tennis on a tight budget. So if you – just like us – count every dollar/euro while keep going further on tennis trainings & tournaments, may be this will be helpful for you. I will also welcome your own tips & tricks on the matter – below in “Comments” section and on our social network profiles (twi, fb).
1. Make it your family adventure.
Tennis is an individual, high-demanding, costly sport. It will anyway cost you a fortune, even if you do not have one :). At the same time, it is not an investment as the risks of losing money are too high. The worst thing you can do for your player is to require or remind him/her to return your money. Being constantly depressed on spending money without clear vision how & when to return is not much better.
Solution? Make tennis your family hobby. Let it be your adventure, which makes you fun & happy itself, with a tiny chance to bring you a fortune in future. Just like treasury hunting.
2. Use airbnb instead of official hotel booking…
Airbnb allows you to save big while travelling on tournaments. Sometimes it is 2-3 times cheaper than an official hotel. Furthermore, you can get much more than a usual hotel experience – like new local friends, open-heart support from your hosts and even dedicated fans on your player’s matches.
Don’t neglect a “private room” option. It is cheaper than “entire home/apt” but in most cases you will have the same level of comfort.
Disclaimer: always look on the tournament venue location – it must be in walking or public transport reach from your airbnb stay. Some tennis clubs, specially in the rural area, can be reached by official tourney shuttle only (or taxi which is completely not our option).
3. Be friendly, open & ready to help during the tournament.
There is no big secrets in your technic & practice methods while you are on the tournament. All secrets (if any) are already in past – in your training camp.
So if somebody asks you to warm up him/her – agree if you can. If somebody needs half of court while you are playing with your hitting partner – try to find a solution suitable for all.
Drive somebody to hotel or club if he/she does not have a car. If you have a meal coupon but can’t use it (for example, you have the match scheduled for the lunch time) – give it to somebody who needs it but does not have.
We are all the one big tennis family. If you are good to your family members – specially when it costs you nothing except your time and attention – they will be good to you when you need it most.
4. Bus is the cheapest public transport throughout Europe, and there are a lot of them.
There are a lot of low-cost bus companies in Europe, both international (like FlixBus) or national (like Italian BusCenter). Actually you can cross the whole continent by buses only, paying just a fraction of airline or railway tickets cost.
For sure, a bus travelling can be exhausting… like any other type of travel :). The good thing is modern buses have WC onboard, wi-fi connection & electric plugs to charge your gadgets. They also make longer stays – usually 1-2 times per a trip – so people can eat a “normal” food in near-road fastfoods.
5. If you go for several tournaments in one country, consider buying Interrail pass.
While railway travelling is a way more expensive than bus, Interrail pass allows to make it more affordable. All you need is to plan your trip well. With Interrail ticket you can have unlimited number of railway trips during several days inside a chosen pass duration period (e.g. you can travel 4 days inside 1 month).
What’s specially good for tennis players & families: you do not need to select “travel days” in advance – you just activate a day with your first trip on that day. Whenever you leave the tourney – after the first day or final match – this pass is always OK, you do not need to re-book or modify your tickets.
6. Ask for help. Just do it.
if you really need some help – ask for it. There is nothing terrible or shameful to do this. You will discover that many people will be glad to help you. Be thankful to them for it.
Sashka’s crowdfunding campaign at IndieGoGo was an event that changed our lives. We met amazing people who help Sashka in different ways. But it would not happen if we simply… do not create that campaign!
7. Share (virtually) everything.
There are a lot of things you can share during the tourney trip, from houses to car seats and warm-up courts.
During one tournament in France we booked a very nice house to stay with 2 other teams (total of 6 people). It costs us 150 EUR/day – for all. The double room price in the official hotel was 95 EUR / day, so we saved almost half price! Plus, we saved a lot on food as we cooked in the house instead of spending big in local restaurants.
For sharing car seats there is a number of websites & apps like BlaBlaCar.
8. Eliminate small unnecessary costs.
When we analyzed how we spend on SMALL things related to tennis practices & tournaments, it was an unpleasant discovery for us! Well, it is not a problem to spend… It is a problem to overpay for something which can be obtained for much less or even free!
The simplest example is water. Bottled water in European tennis clubs usually costs 1-2 EUR per liter. In nearest supermarket its price is around 0.2-0.3 EUR. But most Western & Central European countries have drinkable TAP water!
If you are not sure whether tap water is drinkable in the country you are visiting, search through the Web or ask locals.
Tea, energy bars, sport drinks – buy them cheaper outside of tennis clubs or specialized stores, in usual sport shops or consumer goods supermarkets.
Even such “very-tennis” things like overgrips and dampeners can be bought for less. In a tennis retail shop, a dampener costs around 2 EUR/pc. On AliExpress or eBay you can find them for 1/4 of that price!
9. Use last-minute offers from hotels.
It is a very simple tip, but it can save you big! It works best in bigger cities with a lot of hotels available – like Florence or Paris. Simply open any booking application like Booking.com between 17:00 and 19:00 of check-in day.
You will find out that a lot of hotels reduced their prices for unsold rooms up to 70%!
Note that this won’t work during a high season of that tourist destination, big sport or cultural event, exhibition etc. Check it out before you arrive to the town.
10. Fire a tennis coach… if you are brave enough.
Rising a junior tennis player is a big deal, which requires almost full-time involvement of at least one family member (mom, dad, grand, brother, uncle etc.). Parents or relatives spend thousands of hours on the chairs near the court… looking to their kids practices. Then they disappointed in one coach, go to another, then they repeat this again & again.
Think about following: it is necessary 4-5 years to become a lawer or engineer, and 7-8 year to make brain surgeries. If your kid started to play tennis at 5, till his/her 13th birthday you have enough time to become… well, not a kind of Dr. House, but a person who understands tennis & tennis teaching methods good enough. It is not that simple, but you have tons of related books, videos and articles .
You do not need to be a former tennis player itself to rise a tennis player. Rather you have to be a talented manager and a person who can listen & learn all the time.
You can hire a hitting partner or buy a tennis ball machine for simple ball hitting.
If your player needs something to be modified in his/her technics or playing skills – take a couple of private lessons from a really good coach, learn and understand what he is doing, and then continue it yourself.
At the end of the day, it is not about money only. Any coach will work for himself/herself first. The only person who will value your kid, brother or grandson as a top priority is you!
So take this responsibility, stop paying a coach and start to work with your player yourself!
Be brave enough & enjoy this life-long tennis travel.