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Young girl playing tennis with a black and yellow racket

LTA to launch new rating system for players as part of key competition improvements


The LTA is to launch a new ‘World Tennis Number’ rating system for players, in partnership with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the national associations of the USA and France. The new, modern ratings system will make it easier for players of all abilities to find appropriate players to play with and against, and is one of a series of improvements the LTA is making to its competition structure during 2019 and 2020 as part of its ambition to grow the sport.

To ensure it meets the needs of players from a recreational level through to the performance end of the sport, the World Tennis Number system has been developed in partnership by the ITF, LTA, USTA and FFT with the involvement of some of the world’s best statisticians from Imperial College London. With parallels to the ‘handicap’ system used in golf, the new World Tennis Number will be used by the majority of nations around the world to help create a common language across tennis.

The World Tennis Number system will replace the current British Tennis Rating system in 2020, and will operate based on the following principles:

  • Feature player ratings for both singles and doubles – the first time ever the LTA has had a doubles measure
  • More accurate calculation (calculated by an algorithm and counting sets won as well as match wins), which will better reflect the playing standard of each player irrespective of where they play and which tournaments they play in
  • A dynamic system which will change on a regular basis, allowing players to better track their progress
  • Works for all players – from recreational players at grassroots level to international competitors
  • A system which is gender and age neutral and rates all players on the same scale.

LTA Chief Executive Scott Lloyd said, “We are looking forward to introducing the World Tennis Number as the new rating for players of all abilities across Britain from 2020. We have worked with the ITF, USTA and FFT to develop a more dynamic and accurate measure that helps people to find players of a similar level, which supports our wider plans to grow tennis and open it up to many more people. We are particularly pleased to be introducing a doubles rating for the first time, recognising the popularity of doubles among players all across Great Britain.”

The introduction of the World Tennis Number ratings system is one of a number of competition improvements the LTA is implementing to address priority areas identified following a competition review, which included an extensive consultation exercise with players, coaches, tournament officials and parents. Alongside the new ratings system, the LTA will be implementing improvements to make it easier for players to access the competition structure and simplify the user experience, and provide more opportunities for players to compete as a team.

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 in seniors’ tennis to deliver a standardised approach across all age groups.

The third new improvement the LTA is implementing is the introduction of a new LTA National League team competition for clubs and tennis venues, to provide more opportunities for players to have fun competing as part of a team. The new winter league will complement the current successful summer league which sees over 1,100 venues and 26,000 players take part across the country. It will provide a link from very successful Team Challenge competition at a recreational level through to County and regional level competition, ensuring players of all ages and abilities now have fun, local team competition opportunities all year round.

Team competition is important particularly for younger players and sees higher participation levels for girls compared with individual competition. The new league, which will bring together and build on the current mixed provision of team tennis competition in winter, will start from September 2019 and provide players of all ages from 8U – 18U with regular league matches, against similar standard players throughout the winter months.

LTA Participation Director, Oliver Scadgell, added, “Providing opportunities for appropriate and enjoyable competition plays a key role in our work to grow the sport. It is central to retaining players of all ages and abilities in tennis, as well as supporting players on the Performance Pathway to develop their game and progress. The improvements we are making over the next 18 months are what our players, parents, coaches and officials most wanted to see, and will help make the competitive structure in Britain more relevant, accessible, welcoming and enjoyable for all players.”

Learn more

For further details, please visit our Competition changes page which has information on all the changes including FAQs.

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