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Ron Cioffi
<p><span class="articletitle">YOUTH TENNIS</span></p>
<p><span class="articletitle"><span class="articlesubtitle">PROGRESSION</span></span> </p>




Dear Parents, Tournament Directors & Coaches,

The USTA has launched an outstanding new nationwide 10U Youth Tennis Progression

This system was activated in USTA Southern on June 1, 2016. Below is a:

· A description of the new system

· How the system has been implemented in USTA Southern

· How existing 10U players were grandfathered into the new system

· Frequently Asked 10U Youth Tennis Progression questions from Southern parents & coaches.



We want to make enjoying 10U tennis very easy for your family. Your feedback is welcome and if you need assistance or have any questions, please direct your calls first to your State Junior Department by clicking here.



The USTA and its Sections have created a Youth Tennis Progression that serves as a guide for coaches, parents and players to help ensure that kids 10 and under participate in events using the appropriate ball and court for their skill level.


Players will compete at appropriate levels of play as they progress through stages based on age, participation and achievement. By providing a pathway, young players will have the opportunity to experience suitable levels of competition as well as develop their games tactically and technically.

The progression tracking system rewards players for competing and inspires them to play more often. It’s not just about winning and losing – it’s about having fun, engaging young children and helping them fall in love with tennis.



For children ages 7-10 years old, a best-in-class system has been developed to track the progress of junior players from the orange level to the green level to the yellow level of competition.

A child can advance a level by earning the required amount of participation stars and trophies. A player’s mission is to clear each level by collecting a combination of 20 stars and/or trophies to advance.

The more they play, and the more they improve their skills, the more stars and trophies they accumulate, enabling them to advance to the next level.


Players can track their progress on TennisLink’s “My Player” page. There, players can see how many more virtual stars and trophies they need to acquire to reach the next level. Each player’s page will track their progress and accumulation of stars and trophies as opposed to ranking points.


To clear each level, players will have to collect a combination of 20 stars and/or trophies.

· Players collect stars for: tournament participation and Junior Team Tennis participation.

· Players collect trophies for: winning a tournament and reaching the final of a tournament.

Additional Stars may be earned for participation in specific, USTA Southern non-tournament events -be on the lookout for these opportunities!

Thank you so much for carefully looking over this information. Below are answers to frequently asked 10U Youth Tennis Progression questions from Southern parents & coaches. See below for the answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding USTA Youth Progression. USTA Southern activated the 10U Youth Progression on June 1, 2016.

To enable 10 & Under kids to continue playing at their level after the 10U Youth Progression was activated the following Grandfathering criteria were established.



Definition: If a player is “grandfathered” into a level it means they are permitted to register for events at that level and ONE level below it


For example: If Amalie is 9 and she is grandfathered into Super-Champs Green Level 1, then she can participate in Super-Champs Green 1 and Champs Orange 1 tournaments. Amalie may not register for Rookie Orange 2, and, before registering for Yellow Ball (12U) Tournaments Amalie must clear Super-Champs Green Level 1 or wait until the month of her 11th birthday.



To access the player page, go to TennisLink and click on the “My Tennis” tab. Enter in the player’s USTA number and password to be directed to the player’s “Welcome” screen.

The match information is updated nightly, but players will not see their updated stars and trophy progress until after the automated publish dates (every Tuesday night).

If desired, the player can upload a photo to his/her player page by clicking “Manage Account” directly under the player’s USTA account number in the top right corner of the “Welcome” screen.

If a player continues to play in the division, once he/she accumulates 20 stars and/or trophies, additional stars and/or trophies earned in that division will NOT appear on the player page.



In order to receive inspiring status updates and aging-up notification emails, the contact information on file with USTA Member Services must be accurate and current. To update the email address, login to TennisLink and click “Manage Account” directly under the player’s USTA account number in the top right corner of the

“Welcome” screen. The information can also be updated by contacting USTA Member Services at 1-800-990-8782.



Why is there a Youth Tennis Progression?

The USTA has launched Youth Tennis Progression which was designed to create a greater experience for children beginning and developing in tennis competition, to ensure that young players, ages 7-10 years old, are competing at appropriate levels of play as they progress through competitive stages based on age, participation and achievement. The best-in-class system will track the progress of junior players as they advance from the orange level, to the green level, and then to the yellow level competition. (Levels are determined by the type of ball the player is using.)

The new system serves as a guide for coaches, parents and players to help ensure that kids 10 and under participate in events using the appropriate ball and court for their skill level.


Does my child have to be a USTA member to participate in youth progression events?

Some sections offer entry-level tournaments and Junior Team Tennis programs that do not require membership. However, players will need a USTA account number in order to be tracked (i.e., to accumulate stars and trophies – see below for more information). A free account can be set up by visiting

When you’re ready to get a paid membership, this number can be upgraded so you can keep your current progression profile and status.


What are the stars and trophies you receive as part of USTA Youth Progression? And how does a player earn them?

A child can advance to another level (i.e., from orange to green or green to yellow) by earning the required amount of virtual participation stars and trophies. Players have to collect a combination of 20 stars and/or trophies to advance to the next level.

Players collect stars for tournament participation and Junior Team Tennis.

In addition to the stars earned for participation, players collect trophies for winning a tournament and reaching the final of a tournament.


What if we are visiting from another USTA section. Can my child get credit in our section for playing in a USTA Southern tournament?

Players can receive participation stars for playing outside their home section, provided the event is in same ball color or level as the player regularly participates in.

Stars and Trophies earned will follow the criteria set by the home section. Players will not be eligible for bonus trophies when playing outside of their home section.


What is a Youth Progression Tagged Tournament?

Events that appear in TennisLink with Orange Level 1, Orange Level 2 or Green Level 1 are called progression tagged events. Players can collect progression stars and trophies for participating in these events.


Which events count toward Youth Progression?

Players can receive participation Stars by playing in the following events:

· 10U Progression Tagged Tournaments

· 12U Level 7 & Level 8 Green Ball Events

· Junior Team Tennis

Players collect “bonus Trophies” in singles for achievement by either:

· Winning a 10U progression tournament or a 12U Level 7 or Level 8 Green tournament

· Reaching the final of a 10U progression tournament or a 12U Level 7 or Level 8 Green tournament


My child played in a doubles tournament but never received any stars?

Players only receive credit for playing 10U singles. Playing doubles in 10U tournamentsis fantastic for player development and is highly recommended, though it does not count towards progression.


My child played in a tournament did not receive any stars?

· What day of the week was the tournament completed? Awards (stars & trophies) are calculated and added every Tuesday night for play that was completed and input by Monday. If play was still happening Tuesday, or if the results were not input by Monday, then the awards would not show up until the following week’s Tuesday calculations.

· Was the tournament a tagged progression event?

(Orange Level 1, Orange Level 2 or Green Level 1). If it wasn’t, then they would not receive any stars.

· Also, if your child defaulted or retired from a match, he/she will not receive any credit.


My child played one match for his/her JTT team but never received any participation stars?

Players must play a minimum of two matches for their team in order to receive any participation stars.


My child played on more than one team in a season but only received credit for one team?

Players will only receive participation stars for one team per season and a maximum of two seasons per year.


How come my child, who is an Orange Level 1 player, was allowed to register for a 10U green Junior Team tennis league?

Players can play in either 10U orange ball or 10U green ball leagues and receive participation stars in their current level.


How can my child receive bonus result trophies?

Players collect “bonus trophies” in singles for achievement by either:

· Winning a 10U progression tournament or a 12U Level 7 or Level 8 Green tournament

· Reaching the final of a 10U progression tournament or a 12U Level 7 or Level 8 Green tournament


How long do you expect it to take for the average player to progress through each level?

How a child progresses through the pathway is entirely up to them. We’ve made the pathway flexible so that more advanced or dedicated players can go through the system faster, while other players might want to take their time and play more events and go through on the participation track. The number of events needed to advance to each level will vary depending on the section.

As is now, decisions of how fast or slow a child will move through the pathway is a collaborative decision made between the player, parent and coach. Counting participation and results will ultimately provide a system for parents and coaches to be able to evaluate their child’s readiness to move ahead based on their success against their peers.

Designed to help players develop their fundamentals and get the most out of tennis, the progression tracking system rewards players for competing and inspires them to play more often. These requirements are minimum recommendations to ensure each player has the basic skills to move on to the next level. Players are welcome to stay at their current level until they have fully developed their skill set for that specific court. Remember, it’s not a race to the yellow ball!


My child is 6 years old or younger. Why can’t he/she play orange ball events?

The red ball is the recommended place to start on the pathway at ages 6 and under. The minimum age to start playing an Orange Ball Progression Tournament is 7 years old. Players 6 and under are encouraged to participate in Play Days, Junior Team Tennis and Junior Tournaments using the red ball. The focus should be on fun, team play, skill development and learning the game.


Is it true that my child can’t start playing yellow ball until 11 or older?

Players can start playing 12U yellow ball events as soon as they have fulfilled the orange and green pathway requirements. They don’t have to wait until age 11.

A player could possibly play yellow ball in the 12U divisions as young as age 7 if they advance through the pathway extremely quickly and fulfill the requirements to advance.


Can my SuperChamps Green Level 1 child play Entry Level 12U Green Ball tournaments?

Yes! 10U Green L1 players can play in and earn Youth Progression awards for participation and results in USTA Southern Levels 7 & 8Green Ball 12 & Under tournaments.


If a kid has qualified for Green Level 1 but they play an Orange Level 1 tournament will they earn Stars and/or Trophies?

No. If an Orange Level 1 player qualifies for (levels up to) Green Level 1 they are not forced to move up. They can choose to stay at Orange Level 1 for as long as they’d like, but, after they reach 20 total Star/Trophies at any level they will not continue to earn awards (20 is the maximum).


Does the parent/player or coach make advancement decisions?

Ultimately, the decision-maker in the child-parent-coach relationship will make the final decision on advancing to the next level. Youth Progression is providing a system for parents, coaches and children to track their participation and results as well as rules for when they can move to a different ball color. YP does not force players to advance if they choose not to. YP is, however, ensuring through this system that children gain experience at each ball color and level. We believe that this will help ensure a positive experience in these early years of competitive play. The goal is to create more American players with a solid foundation and all-court skills. It has been proven that spending more time on orange and green will help develop those skills.


Will there continue to be 10U Rankings?

Each month you can search for a player's ranking with this specific page in TennisLink. This is primarily a resource for Coaches to be able to easily see how their students are progressing without logging into their Player Pages. The Progress Report may also be used by Tournament Directors when/if seeding is necessary. The old format of numerically ranking 10U players will no longer be used.



Tournaments Directors are to combine Boys and Girls 10U Divisions into COED 10U whenever there are 3 or fewer players in either division. For example -if a BG10 SuperChamp Green L1 tournament has 4 boy entrants and 2 girl entrants, to enable all kids play multiple matches and opponents, the tournament director shall create a COED SuperChamp Green L1 division and all kids will earn YP participation stars and finalists will earn YP trophies.


The Incredible Importance of Orange Ball


Training, Play and Competition

Orange Ball tennis uniquely encourages the development of kids'

transition games and net play because the shorter and narrower court

makes it reasonable for them to come in to the net and win points there! To take full advantage of this Player Development recommends that when a kid becomes Green L1 qualified that they play a mix of Green L1 and Orange L1 events for the following year.

When the best 9- and 10-year-olds switch from Orange to Green they make fewer net appearances (less transition game development) and they have less success at the net (which discourages all-court play in favor

of baseline or groundstroke-only play). For parents this means that there's no danger in having your 10U kid stay with Orange too long, but, if they're switched to Green too early their all-court player development will likely be delayed.

Something we hear from parents is "Our kid really needs to move up to Green because when they play Orange they're overshooting their serves and groundstrokes”. From a USTA Player Development standpoint, that's an indication that they need to spend *more* time playing Orange and learning to control shot depth with improved technique and spin.

When a player progresses from Orange to Green that does not mean that all of their shots become 78' shots. On 78' courts players need to be able to control their shot depth and successfully hit anywhere from 4 foot shots (drop volleys), 30 foot shots (angle, short ball, groundstroke put-aways), 50-65 foot approach shots, ... and all 10U Green L1 qualified kids should definitely be able to play Orange ball tennis comfortably and well.

In summary, Orange ball training, play and competition are golden opportunities for 10U players that offer a very high return on time invested -so when your child does become Green L1 qualified please don't rush to exclusively green play.


USTA Player Development Early Development Camps

Player Development Early Development Camps (EDCs) are a tremendous way to supplement and enhance a kid’s Orange ball training and fun. For more information please contact Bill Ozaki or Maria Cercone of the USTA Southern Player Development Department.


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