College Tennis:

Glossary of terms


Here are definitions of key words and other information pertaining to college tennis:


ITA: The Intercollegiate Tennis Coaches Association Inc. oversees men’s and women’s varsity tennis at all levels – NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community College. The association administers numerous regional and national championships and the ITA College Tennis Rankings for all divisions. The ITA also has an awards program for players and coaches to honor excellence in academics, leadership and sportsmanship.

ITF: The International Tennis Federation administers and regulates the game through over 200 affiliated national associations, together with six regional associations. The ITF is responsible for the Rules of Tennis, including the technical specifications for courts and equipment, and the running and enforcing of a joint anti-doping program. ADVERTISEMENT The ITF also controls the major international team events for all age groups. (Source: ITF)

ITF Pro Circuit: The ITF administers a series of men’s and women’s Pro Circuit events with prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000. These events usually have large qualifying draws, which allow unranked players to enter tournaments and earn ranking points. As with the USTA Pro Circuit, players who succeed on the ITF Circuit can earn sufficient points to be eligible for qualifying-draw or main-draw entry to tour-level ATP or WTA tournaments. (Source: ITF)

ITF Ranking: The ITF uses a combined junior ranking as its sole junior ranking, which takes into account both singles and doubles results. A player’s ranking is calculated using the best six singles results plus one quarter (25 percent) of the best six doubles results. Rankings are updated on a weekly basis. (Source ITF)

Merit-Based Aid: Scholarships are the most common type of merit-based aid (though some do have a need-based component). Merit includes a variety of categories: academic, artistic, athletic, and the list goes on. Assuming need is not a condition, a student with extensive assets and income is just as entitled to a merit-based award as a student with limited assets and income. (Source: Princeton Review)

NAIA: The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics is an athletic association comprised of 255 smaller member colleges and universities across the country. Its mission is to enhance the character-building aspects of sport. In 2010, the association opened the NAIA Eligibility Center, where prospective student-athletes are evaluated for academic and athletic eligibility. (Source NAIA)

NCAA: The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a membership-driven organization that governs sports across its three competitive divisions (I, II and III). The national office staff sets rules for fair and safe competition, organizes national championships and provides other resources to support student-athletes and its member schools. For tennis, the NCAA does not set rules for regular-season competition nor does it govern officiating. (This is done by the ITA.)


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. These lists are not ranking lists. 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).

Need-Based Aid: This aid doesn’t discriminate by any factor apart from need. Eligibility is based solely on the assets and income of the prospective student and his or her family. Factors, such as test scores or athletic ability, have no bearing on any aid designated need-based. Note: Federal student aid is need-based. (Source: Princeton Review)

NJCAA: The National Junior College Athletic Association is the national governing body for junior and community college athletics. Similar to the NCAA and NAIA, the association sets standards for eligibility and administers national championships. Community and junior colleges in California are governed by the CCCAA.

Star Rating: Each year, awards Top Prospect accolades to the best players in each class. The very best players are tabbed as Blue Chips, and it also awards 5 Star, 4 Star, 3 Star, 2 Star and 1 Star accolades to top prospects. (Source:

The Tennis Recruiting Network ( The Tennis Recruiting Network provides services and content to three distinct audiences: (1) juniors hoping to play college tennis, (2) college coaches trying to identify recruits, and (3) tennis enthusiasts interested in the recruiting process. The heart of content is the weekly rank lists. Two sets of rank lists – the College Recruiting Lists and TennisRPI – are updated weekly for both boys and girls. (Source:

Tour-Level Events: Events at the ATP (men’s) or WTA (women’s) Tour level take place internationally and range from lower-level (Challenger or 125K Series) tournaments to Grand Slam competition.

USTA: The United States Tennis Association Incorporated is the national governing body for the sport of tennis and the recognized leader in promoting and developing the sport’s growth on every level in the United States, from local communities to the crown jewel of the professional game, the US Open.

USTA Pro Circuit: The USTA Pro Circuit gives American players more competitive opportunities in the United States, making it easier and more affordable to earn a pro ranking. It is the largest developmental tennis circuit in the world, consisting of approximately 90 tournaments and nearly $3 million in prize money. Click here for more information.

USTA Ranking: The USTA uses a Points Per Round Combined Ranking System (PPR) to annually rank junior players and publish weekly National Standings Lists. Ranking points are earned by winning singles and doubles matches at various types of USTA national tournaments and designated ITF tournaments, and extra ranking points are earned for winning singles matches over highly ranked players. Ranking points are combined (with greater weight placed on ranking points earned in singles) for a player’s ranking-point total, and players are ordered based on this total.

USTA Section: In addition to its national office, the USTA is supported by organizations in 17 geographical sections. Sections may include a single state, but others may cover a larger region and multiple states.


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