The following is an article written by Conor for the Cork Blog, it gives us an insight into life as a pro player and highlights what young players can expect if they would like to pursue a career as a professional player.
I would like to thank Conor for his time in doing this piece for my blog and wish him every success for the years ahead.

"I have been playing professional tennis since 2006, as well as playing for a year in 2001, and have found it to be an enjoyable and quite challenging existence. As one of the few truly global sports, the standard of professional men's tennis is very high. There are 55 countries represented in the world's top 300. Golf, often considered an equally global sport, has 28 nationalities in its top 300; almost exactly half.

A significant amount of travel is one of the main things to contend with as a pro player. While many would like the idea of extensive travel, the reality of this life is airport terminals and near-permanent jetlag. If you asked a player if they could change one thing about the pro tour, they would invariably say, "Less travel." The travel demands grow as your ranking improves. Tournaments at the ITF Futures level (ranking 1800-300) are played in circuits of three or four weeks in one particular country. The ATP Challenger (300-100) and ATP World Tour (100-1) are not organised like this, and at this level it is rare to play three consecutive weeks in one country. I have played five tournaments so far this year, and they were in four quite disparate countries: Qatar(Doha), Australia, Russia, and France. Doha is one of the few tournaments on before the Australian Open, and there are no events in Australia after the Open. My only option was to fly back to tournaments in Europe, which makes for an expensive start to the year.

I receive some funding from the Irish Sports Council and welcome help from Fitzwilliam LTC, but the rest comes from my parents and whatever prizemoney I can earn. Travelling with a coach is a further expense; I paid for Conor Taylor from the BNP Paribas National Academy in DCU to come with me to Russia, but I travelled alone to the four other tournaments. A lot of national federations would pay for a coach to travel with their top players, but this is not available to us in Ireland.

I will play approximately thirty tournaments this year, and will pay for a coach to travel with me as much as I can. A lot of training is done at tournaments, as we spend so much time on the road. This is another reason why travel with a coach is so beneficial. I generally play three or four tournaments followed by one or two weeks at home. I train in DCU with Tennis Ireland coaches Garry Cahill and Conor Taylor. I work a lot on physical fitness, and try to make improvements to my technique and gamestyle.

There can be a lot of ups and downs as a professional tennis player. Winning is a great feeling, and playing a great match at Davis Cup, in front of a crowd, or at a Grand Slam is very special. You compete almost every week, however, and you have to win five straight matches against very good players to get through the tournament without a loss. Even if you manage to win a tournament, there will be somebody else to play the following Monday. There are only a handful of players in the world who regularly win professional tournaments. That is why you cannot get too excited or too disappointed based on results, though losing should never feel good! You just have to make sure you are preparing and competing as well as you can, and keep pushing on. Sometimes you have to book a flight to a tournament directly after a very tough loss, and play a first round in another country two days later. So dwelling too much on a win or a loss is not a good idea.

I think there are three things that are essential to making it as a professional player; you need to be a good athlete, have consistently good coaching & competition from a young age, and of course be a hard worker. Many of the top 100 players in the men's game are European, and most of those from Western Europe. This should be good news for Irish players. There is a myth that professional tennis is full of players from very tough circumstances in Eastern Europe, who are just more committed than anyone else. This is not the case - the top level of men's tennis is dominated by players from regular backgounds in Germany, France, Spain and America, the sons of dentists and accountants and teachers. So you shouldn't be intimidated by thinking others want it more than you because of where they are from. Commitment and motivation are vital, but people are driven in all sorts of ways. There is no doubt women's tennis is dominated by Eastern European players, though I think for reasons that don't begin and end with 'hunger'.

Professional tennis can be a challenging lifestyle, but the rewards for success are very high. Playing each year in front of Irish supporters in Melbourne, Paris, London and New York would definitely be worth travelling for."