'No substitute for dedication and hard work on tennis circuit'
Singaporean Stefanie Tan leads a humble existence on the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Tour.
Ranked 462nd in the world, she would love to have the support of her head coach and family members at all tournaments, but that's a luxury she can't afford.
Top athletes are often surrounded by entourages when they travel. The group often includes at least a coach, trainer, physio, and family members.
Women's world No. 1 Serena Williams had more than 40 in hers at the US Open last year.
Said Tan, who turned pro last year: "When we're playing in someone else's country, and your opponent is on home ground with all the support they can get, it will be nice to have your family there to push you on as well."
But the reality is that a lot of tennis pros, especially those who fall outside of the top 100, do not have the financial means to do that.
"We don't make enough prize money to be able to afford a big group of people when we travel overseas for tournaments and competitions," said the 23-year-old, who has made about $40,000 in her career so far.
"I do travel with my hitting-partner, who is also my assistant coach, but seldom with my family members.
"If I had more disposable money to spend, I would travel with my head coach and my family members as well, but now, it's too expensive," added Tan.
CAREER PRIZE MONEY
In comparison, Williams, 35, has accumulated about US$85.5 million (S$121.1m) in career prize money while Italian Francesca Schiavone, ranked 100th in the world, has collected US$10.6m.
Nevertheless, Tan's passion in tennis continues to burn brightly and she feels that the sport in Asia is picking up quickly.
Tan, who is targeting glory with Singapore at the South-east Asia Games in August, said: "Right now if we're looking at the rankings, there are a lot of Asian players who are making it big.
"They may not necessarily be South-east Asian players, but it's growing in Asia.
"A lot of hard work is put into it, a lot of dedication is required and now, in Asian tennis for women in particular, we're doing pretty well."