Junior Competitive Structure
changes for 2021
October 10, 2019
The USTA's Junior Competition Committee has approved proposed changes to the Nationwide Junior Competitive Structure, paving the way for a standardized nationwide structure and ranking system for tennis events across the 17 USTA Sections. This move will impact all ranked, competitive events throughout the nation. Initially approved at the 2019 USTA Semi-Annual Meeting, the changes will go into effect in 2021.
The new structure will utilize seven levels of events, ranging from Level 7 (Intermediate) to Level 1 (National Championships), and a universal ranking system that will distribute points consistently across the country. This nationwide system will provide consistent tournament levels and standardized tournament operations for all events—regardless of location—replacing a current system that is greatly dependent upon the region. ADVERTISEMENT The new system will allow players to more easily compete across sections, as the levels will be standardized with an increased number of open events, providing even more playing opportunities for junior players. In addition, there will be a series of non-ranking events, the “Net Generation Circuit,” which will focus on age-appropriate competition, development and fun.
In order to ensure a smooth ranking transition in 2021, the USTA will track 2020 results using the new universal ranking-point tables. The initial rankings in 2021 will be based on the 2020 results using the new ranking-point tables.
“In order to properly grow and retain tennis players, it is imperative that we provide offerings that are developmentally appropriate, consistent and easy to navigate, and that is one of the many reasons why we have made the changes to the junior competitive structure,” said Craig Morris, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “Our research and data told us that our current structure needed change based on many factors that ultimately have contributed to a decrease in participation and player retention. The new system, based on the American Development Model, puts into place a consistent, clear and simple pathway, which will attract and retain more players into the game.”
Over the past 10 years, USTA junior tournaments have seen a decrease in participation and player retention, with events losing more than 5,000 players in 2018. The USTA addressed this with an evaluation of the entire youth competitive pathway. Looking at various data and research, including a study led by the University of Central Florida (UCF), a determination was made to implement the American Development Model (ADM) to address this trend. The shift to the Nationwide Junior Competitive Structure is in line with ADM, promoting a program-delivery system designed to attract and retain more youth players.
In addition to a dedicated webpage with more detailed information and FAQs, the USTA will create and host interactive webinars allowing for open dialogue, along with direct communications to all players, tournament directors and coaches, to ensure all stakeholders have an understanding of these changes.