The International Tennis Federation (ITF), the governing body for tennis on a worldwide basis, introduced an apprentice-level Circuit for men in 1976 and for women in 1984 in an ongoing effort to provide young players with an avenue to the international game.
Today, there are more than 375 men's ITF Circuit events and 350 women's ITF Circuit events held annually in 80 different countries around the globe, including China, Iran, Kenya, Lebanon, Liechtenstein and Vietnam.
The USTA, the national governing body for tennis in the United States, is one of more than 200 national federations that are members of the ITF. Through the USTA Pro Circuit, which it owns and operates, the USTA stages the largest number of ITF Circuit events in the world. This year, players from more than 50 countries will be competing in 96 USTA Pro Circuit events for $3 million in prize money.
USTA Men's Circuit
There are two types of men's events on the USTA Pro Circuit: Futures and Challengers. Each event has 32 players in the main singles draw and 16 teams competing in doubles.
Futures are professional tournaments offering $10,000 to $15,000 in prize money and are typically the proving ground for top-ranked juniors, college players and pros at the beginning of their careers. Players competing in Futures generally have an ATP Entry System ranking ranging from No. 150 to No. 900. The singles qualifying draw size is 64 or 128 players for the $10,000 events, and 64 players for the $15,000 events. Players must reach the round of 16 to earn a ranking point.
Challengers offer $25,000 to $50,000 in prize money. These tournaments serve as a bridge between the Futures and the ATP tour and enable players to earn more points per round than they do in Futures events. In fact, players can achieve a Top 100 ranking by playing solely in Challengers. The qualifying draw size is 32 players.
USTA Women's Circuit
Women's events on the USTA Pro Circuit consist of $10,000, $25,000, $50,000 and $75,000 tournaments. Each event has 32 players in the main singles draw and 16 teams competing in doubles. The $10,000 tournaments are entry-level events and give young players the opportunity to earn their first ranking points. The women who compete in them are usually juniors and college players, and players who may be as high as No. 250 to 300 in the WTA Tour rankings.
The competition and ranking points increase at the $25,000 tournaments - the level at which a player can best determine whether her game is good enough to pursue a career as a touring pro. Indeed, the non-American champions of these events have often been the No. 1 players in their own countries.
The caliber of play at the premium-level events, the $50,000 and $75,000 tournaments, is close to that of the WTA Tour. It features women who are ranked as high as No. 40.
The singles qualifying draw size is 64 or 128 players for the $10,000 events, and 32 players for the $25,000, $50,000 and $75,000 events.
If you are interested in joining the USTA Pro Circuit, or are already a player and require application and scheduling info, please visit our Player Information area.