AAP, 15 January 2013 | Tennis Australia

Australian John-Patrick Smith may be well educated but he admits as a tennis player he has plenty to learn.

The Townsville-born 23-year-old was schooled by Portugal’s Joao Sousa in their first round clash at the Australian Open, losing 6-4 6-1 6-4.

Smith has taken a different route in his quest to become a professional tennis player, completing a degree in economics while on a four-year tennis scholarship at the University of Tennessee, which he finished in 2011.

If things don’t work out on the world tour, he’s considering working on Wall Street.

American world No.13 John Isner is another product of the college system, with Smith looking to him as a role model.

While his education will give him an advantage post-tennis, Smith says his on-court smarts are lagging.

Sousa, who is also 23, turned pro back in 2005.

“My pathway’s a little different but I wouldn’t change anything for the world,” Smith said.

“I learnt a lot of great people and have developed a lot and I’m still young.

“Right now I’m lacking the experience of those top guys because he [Sousa] was the first top 100 guy I’ve ever played.”

A wildcard recipient, Smith said playing in the Open had been an eye-opener.

“You play these grand slams and you’re treated like royalty,” he said.

He knows he will get a reality check with his next tournament a Challenger event in Burnie, Tasmania.

Smith hasn’t put a time-frame on his tennis career, confident he will make the top 100.

“I don’t feel I’m that far behind, I’ve just got to keep getting that experience against those players and get into the gym,” he said.

“You can only play tennis for a short time so you’ve got to make the most of it.”