Competition changes 2019/2020

Junior plays a backhand during a competition

The LTA’s vision is to open up tennis to many more people, and providing opportunities for appropriate and enjoyable competition plays a key role in that. Doing so 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.

As part of our work to grow the sport, the LTA will be implementing a series of improvements over the next five years aimed at making competitions more relevant, accessible, welcoming and enjoyable for all players.

The improvements are part of a new strategy has been informed by an extensive review of the competitive landscape in Britain, as well as analysing what works for other federations and sports.  The review included consultation with players, coaches, officials and parents, with the plans receiving strong support.

During 2019 and 2020 we will be implementing a number of key improvements relating to areas highlighted as top priorities from the consultation. These are:

  • Introduction of a new mini tennis competition reward system for players aged 10 years and under
  • Adoption of the new ‘World Tennis Number’ player rating system
  • Simpler ‘calendar year’ based system for Competition Age Group categorisation, supported by a new look and aligned national competition calendar
  • The introduction of more team competition opportunities, through a new LTA National League team competition for tennis venues in Winter to complement the current successful summer one
  • Changes to Local Competition to make events more accessible and enjoyable for players.

The LTA are excited to introduce these important changes to enhance the tennis experience for all. For questions/clarifications not answered by the FAQs provided in the LTA Help Centre please contact the Services Team.

For further details on the ITF World Tennis Number, competition age group changes and LTA National  League - Winter please see below.

ITF World Tennis Number ITF World Tennis Number addremove

The brand new World Tennis Number player rating system is launching in 2020 and will replace the current LTA Rating System.

The new system has been developed as 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.

Find out more about the new World Tennis Number player rating system

Competition Age group changes Competition Age group changes addremove

From 1 April 2020, competition age groups for junior players will be calculated based on a calendar year e.g. a player’s age on 31 December. These changes come following an extensive review of the competitive landscape and review of our systems. We understand that players, parents, coaches and officials want a system which is straightforward, easy to explain and simple to calculate.

The new competition age group system offers the following benefits:

  • 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

There will also be an introduction of an 11U age group at all levels of competition to support players with their transition from Green to Yellow ball.

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. 

Read more about the competition age group changes

LTA National League - Winter LTA National League - Winter addremove

In the Autumn, we will be introducing a new LTA National League team competition for clubs and tennis venues in Winter, 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 Team Challenge competitions at a recreational level 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 .

The creation of the new Winter league 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 and extensive review and consultation with players, coaches, parents and officials, with the introduction of more opportunities to compete as a team identified as a priority area to improve.

Visit our National League - Winter webpage and our FAQs regarding the new winter competition for further information.  

Local Competition Changes Local Competition Changes addremove

‘First Come, First Served’ - Grade 5 Acceptance Criteria 

Following a successful pilot over the Summer Season, the method for determining acceptance into Grade 5 events will be changing.

From September 2019 onwards, players will be accepted into Grade 5 events on a ‘First Come, First Served basis’. Entries will be accepted in date and time order until the draw is full. Any players not accepted will be placed on the reserve list, in the order that they entered the event.

If a player withdraws from an event the player at the top of the reserve list will be selected to replace them.

Changing to a first come, first served method of acceptance will simplify the competition entry process for players and parents, give earlier confirmation of acceptance and make it easier for them to plan tennis competitions alongside other activities. It will also make local competitions more accessible for players that are new to competition. Over 200 events piloted first come, first served as the acceptance method during the 2019 Summer season and the feedback from referees, players and parents was positive. When we spoke to parents via our online community, 65% of parents of junior players thought using an acceptance method of ‘First Come, First Served’ at grade 5 competitions was a good idea.

Acceptance for Grade 4 County Tour events will continue to be based on LTA Rating, followed by LTA Ranking.

Read our Acceptance & Seeding Criteria guide for more information.

Modifications to FAST4 Scoring Format

Following feedback from players, parents, coaches and officials the FAST4 scoring format will comprise of the following rules:

  • First to 4 games
  • Tiebreak at 3-games all – first to 7 points, 2 clear at 6-6
  • Match tie-break (to 10 points, 2 clear at 9-9) if the score reaches 1 set all
  • No ad scoring
  • The 'no service let' rule will no longer apply.

Mini Tennis Competition Rewards Mini Tennis Competition Rewards addremove

Exciting changes to reward players in Mini Tennis Competitions

We are making some exciting changes to Mini Tennis which will come into effect on 1 April 2020.

These improvements have been made following a review into mini tennis competition, which involved listening to feedback from players, parents, officials and coaches.

What are the changes?

  • Removal of Mini Tennis orange and green ratings to ensure the focus is on having fun and learning to play at this age rather than chasing wins.
  • Introduction of an improved participation based competition reward scheme for young players to help recognise their progress
  • Players will receive a digital certificate when they have played in 10 recorded matches in a specific ball colour (Red, Orange or Green)
  • Players will receive a t-shirt when they have played in 20 recorded matches (a further 10 matches) in a specific ball colour (Red, Orange or Green)
  • Players will receive a hoody when they have played a in 40 recorded matches (a further 20 matches) in a specific ball colour (Red, Orange or Green)

Why are we making the changes?

The outcome of the review pointed towards the need to focus on more local, team based and fun competition opportunities. There was also a clear need to reduce some of the unnecessary pressure experienced in mini tennis competitions and provide players with an improved incentive to get on court to play matches.