Competition Age Group changes

Junior competition - girl plays a backhand

From the 1 April 2020, a new competition age group system for players 18 and under will be implemented based on their year of birth, making it much simpler and easier to use and understand. 

The move will provide more flexibility than the current system, with players able to ‘play up’ earlier between red, orange and green ball tennis. An 11U age group is being introduced to aid the transition from Green Ball to Yellow Ball tennis and mitigate any relative age effect. It will also bring national domestic competitions in line with the system used at an international level and with the LTA’s Player Pathway, as well as matching the system already used for in seniors’ tennis to deliver a standardised approach across all age groups.

The change is one of a number of priority improvements to competitions being implemented by the LTA during 2019 and 2020 as part of our desire to make competitions more relevant, accessible, welcoming and enjoyable for all players. It follows an extensive review of the competitive landscape and review of our systems which highlighted that players, parents, coaches and officials want an age group system that is straightforward, easy to explain and simple to calculate, and this change delivers that.

The table below shows which age group players will compete in from April 1 to 31 December 2020:

Age Group

For players born in…

8U (Red ball)

2012 or later

9U (Orange ball)

2011 or 2012

10U (Green ball)

2010 or 2011

11U (Yellow ball)

2009 or 2010

12U (Yellow ball)

2008 - 2009

14U (Yellow ball)

2006 - 2009

16U (Yellow ball)

2004 - 2009

18U (Yellow ball)

2002 - 2009

A key advantage of the new competition age group system is that it will provide more flexibility. Red, orange and green ball will remain within certain age groups, although broader than before and without play up rules such as reaching a certain mini tennis rating. Players within the yellow ball age groups will also be able to compete in older age groups. Parents and players are advised to work with their coach to determine when a player should start to compete in the next age group above. It is still vitally important that young players compete in the appropriate age group, to: enable game based development that can be better achieved on a smaller court with lower compression balls, minimise the risk of injury and have a balanced competition programme. 

Benefits of the new competition age group system include:

  • It is easier to explain and simpler to calculate than the current age group system
  • It enables a meaningful performance player pathway by aligning to the same age group system
  • It offers greater flexibility at mini tennis.

Find out what age group you will be for the next three years by downloading our Age Group Calculator

Introduction of an 11U age group

An 11U age group will be introduced at all levels of competition. This will support players with making the transition from Green to Yellow ball. The 11U age group will compete using a yellow ball, however at some levels we may stipulate the use of a green ball.

Players will be able to play in the 11U age group when their tennis age is 10 or 11. In 2020, players born in 2009 or 2010 will be eligible to compete at 11U. Competitive opportunities will exist at all grades of competition in both a team and individual format.

Players competing in the 11U age group will earn 11U ranking points and the 11U ranking points table will be published in February 2020.

Changes to the National Calendar

The age group changes will coincide with the launch of a new National Competition Calendar, including an revitalised Junior National Championships which will have a new position in the calendar. This will ensure our national domestic competitions support the Performance Pathway and can be reinvigorated as a crucial step on the journey to international tennis.