TO JUNIOR TOURNAMENTS IN 2019
October 1, 2018
Youth sports are changing for the better, putting kids and their desire to simply play and have fun front and center. Tennis is leading the way with courts, racquets and balls all sized right for kids to have success quickly and fall in love with the game. USTA Mid-Atlantic is providing a proven pathway for juniors in tennis that guides players appropriately though different levels of the game. This ensures they are learning and progressing in a fun and engaging way, from their very first swing of the racquet to their rewarding competitive tournament experiences.
In 2019, USTA Mid-Atlantic will take progressive measures to support the betterment of youth tennis and enact changes to junior tennis tournaments for 12, 14, 16 and 18 year olds. These changes are based on the latest research from youth sports experts such as the Aspen Institute, United States Olympic Committee, as well as best practices established from USTA Player Development. ADVERTISEMENT They are intended to not only improve the tournament experience but also to better junior tennis player development.
“The driving force for change in the Mid-Atlantic Section was the desire to allow junior tennis players that are competing in tournaments to have a balanced schedule of quality events that focus on fun, health, well-being, player development, and a lifelong love of the game,” says Bonnie Vona, senior manager of junior competition and player development for USTA Mid-Atlantic.
At a high-level, players and parents can expect changes that improve player (and family) well-being, tennis tournament experience, and development/progression of the youth tennis player in tournaments and competition.
Player and Family Well-being
In the Mid-Atlantic, junior tennis tournaments for 12, 14, 16, and 18 year olds will be following a more condensed schedule in 2019 than ever before. This means that:
- There will be more breaks from tennis and families can plan for tennis-free weekends
- Players will have time to rest, recover and reconnect - all factors incredibly important to help reduce overuse injuries and burnout in young athletes
- There is a reduced chance that highly competitive juniors playing in top Mid-Atlantic championship tournaments will miss Monday school days
- In the Mid-Atlantic during the month of December there will be three weeks when only entry level tournaments and fun family-based tennis events will be offered
Improved Junior Tennis Tournament Experience
With the condensed schedule for junior tennis tournaments in the Mid-Atlantic in 2019, we anticipate that the number of players competing in a tournament, or the draw, will be fuller which means every tournament will be a valuable experience for the player. In addition, USTA Mid-Atlantic is going to strive to ensure that quality competitive junior tournaments are geographically regionalized with priority given to L5 (advanced/intermediate) tournaments. This means that:
- As players progress in the intermediate or advanced level junior tournaments, you’ll find more tournaments local to you at the level and quality you desire so travel may be reduced
- Championship weekends will be regionally grouped if possible, such that a family with players competing in multiple age divisions will be able to travel in one general direction - subject to site availability
- Super Six Championships will offer all age divisions concurrently to promote true age group competition at the highest levels. Challengers and L5s will continue to provide the opportunity to play multiple age divisions and “play up”
Development/Progression of the Competitive Junior Tennis Player
Making sure kids have fun with tennis right from the start and feel successful in the game is paramount for the player and for the sport. That is why USTA Mid-Atlantic has a specific path that kids should follow for junior tournaments that helps them learn skills and progress appropriately -- everything from fun beginner and entry level events and tournaments to more competitive events.
To encourage play at the appropriate developmental level for a junior, USTA Mid-Atlantic will implement thresholds that players will have to meet in order to advance to the next level. Thresholds are based on the points players earn by participating and playing in junior tennis tournaments. This means that:
- There will be much more clarity for parents and players to determine what level of tournament they should register for and play
- An entry-level player will begin playing in L8 events, which are local, half-day, and low-pressure - earning 50 participation points just for coming and playing!
- To advance to the next level (L7) a player must have 100 points (complete two (L8) entry level events)
- To progress to an L6 or L5, players must have a standing of 250
- To compete in the Mid-Atlantic Section L4 and L3s, players must have a standing of 150
More information about the tournament path, levels and points is available here.
Overall, USTA Mid-Atlantic expects the 2019 junior tennis tournament year to be an exciting one with research-based changes that will improve the player experience and enhance well-being and development.
For more information visit our junior player resources page.