USTA National Tournaments: What Are They? How Can I Play Them?

Each year the USTA sanctions five different types of national tournaments designed for not only the top level juniors in the country, but also those who have achieved some success in their Sectional Association and desire to enter tournaments where they can play juniors from other parts of the country. Tournaments are held for boys and girls in the 12-and-under, 14-and-under, 16-and-under, and 18-and-under age divisions.
• USTA National Championships
• USTA National Opens
• USTA Team Championships
• USTA Regional Tournaments
• USTA International Tournaments

The information provided below is a summary. For more detailed information, consult either the National Junior Tournament Schedule or the USTA Regulations. Questions about the information provided can be sent to jrcomp@usta.com.
Four aspects that are key to understanding national competition are Age Eligibility, the National Standings Lists, Citizenship Requirements, and Entering Concurrent Tournaments:

Age Eligibility: The USTA uses a "month of birth" age eligibility rule. Junior players may continue to play in the 12, 14, 16 and 18 age divisions until the month they turn 13, 15, 17, or 19, respectively. Players should use the starting date of a tournament to determine eligibility when a tournament begins in one month and ends in the next. Players should plan ahead and consult their parents, coaches, or their Sectional Association to help them decide which age group is best for them to play in order to meet their tennis development and ranking goals.

National Standings Lists: The National Standings Lists (NSLs) are used by most of the national tournaments to select players. NSLs list players who are eligible for national competition in an age division in order of their current standing. Standing is based on the number of national ranking points a player has earned in the previous 12-month period.  Points are accumulated by winning singles and doubles matches in the national tournaments, 12 tournaments designated by each Sectional Association, and certain designated ITF tournaments (collectively, the National Ranking Tournaments). 100% of points earned in a player’s best 6 singles tournaments and 15% of points earned in a player’s best 6 doubles tournaments are used to calculate the standings.  Players who play in more than one age division will have their points "count down" so long as they have at least one ranking point in the division of the NSL.  This means that if one or more of the tournaments they play in an older division is in their top 6, it will count in the lower age division as well.  One additional requirement is that players must have at least 1 ranking point as the result of an on-court win to apear on an NSL.  An on-court win is one that takes place on-court after the start of the match.

Citizenship Requirements: Entries into USTA National Championships, USTA National Opens, USTA Team Championships, and USTA Regional Tournaments are limited to U.S. Citizens and aliens who meet specific criteria. USTA International Tournaments are open to U.S. Citizens and foreign players.

Entering Concurrent Tournaments:  The USTA Regulations prohibit a player from being entered, when entries close, in two or more tournaments if any part of the tournaments overlap, unless each Tournament Committee understands the situation and concurs in writing. There are two exceptions to this rule on the national junior level.  Both the USTA National Championships and the USTA National Opens allow for a player to enter more than one age division,  however, it is important to understand the consequences of this decision.  If you want to play in one of these tournaments, but aren't sure if you will get in, you may enter up to two different age divisions.  When selection is done, players are selected for the oldest age division first.  If you are selected into the older age division entered, you will not be selected into the younger division.  If you are not selected into the older division, you will only be considered for selection into the younger division and you will only be eligible to be an alternate in the younger division.

Below are descriptions of the five different types of national tournaments.

USTA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
USTA National Championships are the highest level of national junior competition. Four USTA National Championships are held each year in each division:
• USTA National Spring Championships (128 draw for all divisions)
• USTA National Clay Court Championships (192 draw: 18 and 16 divisions; 128 draw: 14 and 12 divisions)
• The USTA National Championships (192 draw: 18 and 16 divisions; 128 draw: 14 and 12 divisions)
• USTA National Winter Championships (128 draw for all divisions)
All of the USTA National Championships in the 14 and 12 divisions use a singles Compass Draw. All other USTA National Championships have a singles Feed-In-Championship draw format.  All doubles events are single elimination, unless otherwise specified by the tournament.

The USTA entry system provides many ways for a player to qualify for the USTA National Championships.  Below is a description of these pathways:

Players on National Championship Selection List: The National Championship Selection List is a list of the top players in the country, based national play and, in the boys’ and girls’ 18s divisions, professional and international rankings. It is published two months or more in advance of the tournament so players know they have a guaranteed acceptance if they enter by the deadline. The size of make up of the list depends on the division and size of the draw:
Boys’ and Girls’ 18 Divisions
• Draw of 192, players on the List in positions 1 through 40 shall be accepted.
• Draw of 128, players on the List in positions 1 through 32 shall be accepted.
List Details:
The first 16 players on the list are those who have played in the singles draw of at least:
1. One National Ranking Tournament in the List’s division during the four months before the effective date of the list; and
2. Two other National Ranking Tournaments in the List’s division during the 12 months before the effective date of the List.
The next group of players on the list are those not who have an ATP singles ranking of 1000 or better or who have a WTA singles ranking of 600 or better.The last group of players on the list are those who have an ITF singles ranking of 100.

Boys’ and Girls’ 16, 14 and 12 Divisions
• Draw of 192, players on the List in positions 1 through 24 shall be accepted.
• Draw of 128, players on the List in positions 1 through 16 shall be accepted.
List Details:
The list is comprised of players who have played in the singles draw of at least:
1. One National Ranking Tournament in the List’s division during the four months before the effective date of the list; and
2. Two other National Ranking Tournaments in the List’s division during the 12 months before the effective date of the List.
These players are listed in the order of strength of record calculated as of the effective date using the USTA computer ranking program.

Players Who Qualified from USTA National Opens: Players not previously selected who are among the top two singles finishers in each of the four immediately preceding USTA National Opens will be accepted, if otherwise eligible and they enter by the deadline.

Players within Sectional Associations’ Quotas: Each Sectional Association endorses players into a USTA National Championships. They are also given a minimum number of players that they will qualify for a USTA National Championship. This number is based on the size of a Section’s junior membership and is called "Quota." Consult with your Section to learn the number of players in your Section’s Quota and the requirements for appearing on the endorsement list - requirements differ from Section to Section. Junior players who have entered by the deadline, who were not previously selected, and who are on the Sectional endorsement lists within the established Sectional quota, will be accepted.

Wild Cards: The Tournament Committee shall accept those junior players granted Wild Cards by the USTA Wild Card Committee. Wild Card recipients do not need Sectional endorsement, however an applicant must be in good standing with their Sectional Association.  Applications for Wild Cards will be considered where extenuating circumstances have made the normal procedure of qualification and endorsement impossible. Wild Cards also may be granted based on the recommendation of the USTA National Coaching Staff that a player has demonstrated significant potential at the national and international level. Applications and supporting documents must be received no later than five (5) days after the entry deadline for the tournament for which the wild card is sought.  Overall Wild Card limits are:
• 8 Wild Cards for the 18s and 16s USTA National Spring Championships and USTA National Winter Championships and for all 14s and 12s USTA National Championships.
• 12 Wild Cards for the 18s and 16s USTA National Clay Court Championships and The USTA National Championships.

Endorsed Players on National Standings List: The Tournament Committee shall fill remaining spots in the draw, except those spots reserved for Wild Card recipients, with endorsed players who have submitted timely entries who remain on the most recently published singles National Standings List.

USTA NATIONAL OPENS
USTA National Opens are the second highest level of national junior competition. Four times a year, four USTA National Opens are held in each age division at four different sites. Players have the option, but not the obligation, to select more than one of the four site preferences when they enter and should only select sites to which they are willing to travel. Each has a singles draw size of 32 with a Feed-In-Championship and a single elimination doubles event.
Selection Procedure. Players are accepted into the draws and given preference in their choice of site in the following order:
• up to 16 players (up to 4 per draw) from the top 100 players on the most recently published National Standings List of the next-younger age division in the order in which their names appear on this list;
• up to 112 players (up to 28 per draw) from the most recently published National Standings List for the division in the order in which their names appear on this list;
• players not yet in the draw whose names appear on the most recently published National Standings List of the division in the order in which their names appear on the list;
• players not yet in the draw whose names appear on the most recently published National Standings List of the next-younger age division in the order in which their names appear on the list; and
• the remaining entrants in the order of strength of their records.
Players not selected for their first choice shall remain in the pool of applicants for entry into other concurrent USTA National Opens. Those players who have not been selected after all four USTA National Open Draws have been filled shall be placed in alternate pools at all concurrent USTA National Opens for which the players indicated a preference.

Automatic Qualification of Singles and Doubles Finalists for the National Championships.  Entry into the USTA National Championship immediately following the USTA National Open is guaranteed if you remain age eligible, place high enough in singles or doubles, and enter the USTA National Championship by the entry deadline.  The singles finalists at each USTA National Open qualify to compete in the singles. The doubles finalists at each USTA National Open qualify to compete in the doubles.  Doubles qualifiers do not have to play with the same partner at the USTA National Championship as they did at the USTA National Open.  Also, doubles finalists are rewarded by being singles alternates (if not already in) even if they are not on their Section's endorsement list.

USTA TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS
The USTA sanctions two different types of national competitions to give players the fun experience of representing their Section and playing on a team with other junior players:
• USTA Boys’ & Girls’ 18 National Team Championships
• USTA Boys’ & Girls’ 16 Intersectional Team Championships
• USTA Boys’ & Girls’ 16, 14, and 12 National Zone Team Championships
The first two listed - National Team and Intersectional Team - are the highest level of team competition in the U.S. Sectional Associations select teams of their best players to compete against other Sections for a the national team title.

The last event listed - the "Zonals" - are the next level of national team competition. Sectional Associations select one or more teams of players to compete regionally against other Sections. Not all Sections are represented at each of the regional competitions.

Consult with your Section to learn how to be selected for a team - requirements differ from Section to Section.

USTA REGIONAL TOURNAMENTS
USTA Regional Tournaments are the third level of national junior competition.  USTA Regional Tournaments are either draws of 64 or 32.  Singles draws use a Feed-In Championship (FIC) format, but do not play the finals match of the FIC.  Doubles draws are single elimiantion.  Selection is done using the National Standings List of the age division of the tournament and the next younger division - the number of players selected from each list depends on the draw size.  The tournaments may also elect to award Wild Cards.
Click here for a description of the selection process for the singles draws of 32.
For specific information on draw size and Wild Cards, go to the TennisLink Tournament Home Page for the tournament. Home Pages can be found using the USTA's online Searchable Schedule.

USTA INTERNATIONAL TOURNAMENTS
The USTA sanctions several USTA International Tournaments each year. These are tournaments in the 18, 16, 14, and 12 age divisions that are run under ITF tournament regulations instead of the USTA Regulations.  There are a number of significant differences between these sets of regulations, the most important of which is age eligibility. The ITF rules use a year-of-birth eligibility. Juniors may play the 18s, 16s, 14s or 12s division until the YEAR in which they turn 13, 15, 17, or 19, respectively. Click here for more information on the ITF Tournaments and USTA International Tournaments.
 
 
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