There has long been a division in tennis between what is good for practice and what is good for play. By amending the format used for 10-and-under tournaments to feature the QuickStart Tennis play format, the USTA is working to bridge that gap, increasing play—and the number of players—across the board.
"Since its unveiling in the spring of 2008, the QuickStart Tennis play format has become an integral part of tennis for kids ages 10 and under," says Scott Schultz, Managing Director, Recreational Tennis, USTA. "And most importantly, it is the right play format for kids 10 and under to learn and experience tennis, regardless of whether it’s rallying in your driveway or at a local park with a parent, or playing in a tournament."
Studies have shown that competition is an essential component of learning and enjoying any sport. The key is to use competition as a tool to grow and develop the game—and the games of youngsters—not to crown champions or turn late developers away from tennis. 10 and Under Tennis
aims to get kids playing as quickly and capably as possible in a fun, welcoming environment. It utilizes tournament play featuring the smaller courts, slower-moving and lower-bouncing balls, and smaller and lighter racquets of the QuickStart Tennis play format as the vehicle to help kids learn the strategy and tactics of tennis—by playing matches.
"I’ve been involved in tennis for more than 30 years and this is the biggest change I’ve seen," Lew Brewer, Director, Junior Competition, USTA Player Development, says of the change in tournament format. "It changes everything in terms of how we introduce kids to youth tennis by getting more kids involved at an earlier age, learning the game the right way. To change rules of the game will forever change the future of our sport and open the sport up to millions of kids."
There are 10 and Under Tennis tournaments
all across the country. Most are played in just one or two days and feature non-elimination formats such as compass draws or round robins. These formats allow kids to play a number of matches against a variety of opponents in one tournament—meaning little travel for maximum play opportunities—and open the door for more team play such as USTA Jr. Team Tennis
, which encourages kids to improve their skills while offering them a chance to play with their friends. The result is more fun, and more kids playing tennis now and into the future
"There is no question that the more kids play, the more they learn about the game by developing skills, determining the correct shot selection and learning proper court positioning," says Kirk Anderson, Director, Recreational Coaches & Programs, USTA. "And with the new rule change, competition is now possible at younger ages. Staged properly, competitive events and tournaments give kids the opportunity to play with and against a variety of players, allowing them to test the skills they’ve learned. And by playing multiple matches and playing on a team, they are able to have fun and experience progress, which keeps them coming back for more."