In addition to the LTA tournament schedule for kids, there are other terrific, regular opportunities for competing in tennis. I have focussed on opportunities other than regular LTA tournaments because most parents are aware of those – although I know they can be confusing too. In a separate article I will decipher the levels, grades and things it will help you to know about LTA events.
In my experience, what many parents aren’t aware of is that there are plenty of opportunities aside from LTA tournaments for kids to compete and play tennis competitively.
Whether your child is just starting out or is keen to pursue junior tennis as a “performance” player you can find local “club” competitions right through to international events run by the International Tennis Federation. Since you don’t know, what you don’t know, it can be difficult to find these events so the goal of this article is to provide a snapshot of non-LTA tennis opportunities for children to compete and enjoy their tennis.
Doubles Tennis is Fun Tennis
I think it is brilliant that doubles have been introduced to a lot of tournaments because if you ask most children you’ll find they actually love playing the doubles. That’s valuable because enjoying the tournament experience or the competitive world is always really important. If you want somebody to keep doing something, they’ve got to have enjoyed their experience and I think playing doubles can really help in that.
That is also why I would encourage juniors or younger juniors to play in their local club leagues with other adults because that is also mainly doubles tennis and can be a really good healthy experience. I encourage young players to play as much doubles as they can.
“Other” Opportunities to Play and Compete
The LTA tournament calendar runs events all year round. However, the events below can be seasonal or you can only sign up or join in at set times of the year which will vary depending upon your location. So the best I can do is set you off with some information and hopefully, the desire, to find events near you.
Local Adult Leagues
One of the biggest and best opportunities to compete is one that is often overlooked, especially by juniors – to play at their local club for their adult team leagues. A lot of juniors at local clubs are missing out on potential opportunities for playing competitive matches not linked to any format of rating or ranking but just to play for their club and especially with other adults rather than with juniors. I would recommend juniors play for their local adult club in their leagues if they can.
Then there’s Team Tennis, which is a team event run from April to the national finals in August time. There are different levels of Team Tennis league. For example, the club that I work at, we have I think approximately 17 teams and that runs from mini-red teams, mini-orange teams, mini-green teams and some are local. Then there’s a county league within whichever county that you’re in. You can start your own team if your club hasn’t organised a team.
- Get started with Team Tennis
- At your local club – ask your coach or the person who manages club memberships who to contact.
Road to Wimbledon
There is also the Road to Wimbledon which runs qualifying rounds from mid-April to mid-June. It is a different event but it is still in the tournament websites so that is available. The Road to Wimbledon 14U Challenge event is solely focussed on 14U players. The Road to Wimbledon International is a higher level event for players rated 6.2 and higher. Finalists from the different events get the chance to play on the grass courts at Wimbledon!
- Get started with The Road to Wimbledon
- At your local club – ask your coach, the Head Coach or the person who manages club memberships for the name and contact details of the organiser.
ITF tournaments are tournaments run by the ITF, the International Tennis Federation which is the governing body of world tennis. That is not the British Lawn Tennis Association. It’s a different federation. ITF tournaments are under 18 events that are international, all around the world. They have their own ranking system. You are ranked if you get through a certain number of rounds. They also have their own grading system. Their grading system runs from a grade five all the way through four, three, two, one and up to grade A and Grand Slam events.
To register for an ITF tournament you need to get your child what is called an IPIN. That’s like a registration for the ITF. You’ll go on to the ITF website which is www.itftennis.com and on there for sure I know it will have a link to get your IPIN . It will talk you through how to get one. Once you’ve done that, then on that website there is a whole list of events that happen throughout the whole of the year and you can go on to that and then you enter those tournaments. Those tournaments have deadline dates and they are put on to the list and that was called an Acceptance List. You’ll be able to see if your son or daughter has been accepted into the Main Draw or Qualifying of that event. That’s how that works.
Each and every ITF tournament has a Qualifying event and the Main Draw event. Those Qualifying Draws can vary. They can vary or maybe even they can vary from 16 players up to at least 64, possibly a 128. Probably, most of the time, somewhere between 16 and 64 in Qualifying and Main Draw.
The UTR is the Universal Tennis Rating – its an organisation that rates all players on the same 16-point scale. The rating is global; players are rated independent of of age, gender or location. So you can compare players from anywhere. We don’t see many of these events in the UK so you may not see one near you. Entry is based on UTR rating rather than LTA rating or national ranking.
Brand Sponsorship for Talented Young Players
Some parents will be interested in sponsorship for their kids. So I think it’s interesting to consider what children could look for sponsorship by a major sports brand.
I know a few branding people who are in charge of those companies. Most of those companies will generally look at children from as early as nine or ten and they will look for your child to be of top national standard. Maybe top five in the country, in and around that age and so those are probably the people that get targeted.
It could be that the brand targets the child or it could be that the player’s parents approach the company. A lot of the time if your child is using a brand, for example, they might be using a Head racket, then the Head national sponsor might go to nationals might see him/her using that racket and therefore might approach you regarding you continuing to use that brand.
However, there’s nothing stopping parents writing a letter to a brand outlining what their child has done in tennis so far and looking and requesting for sponsorship. There’s no harm either way and both things have worked.
Types of sponsorship go from a very basic sponsorship – for example, a company might offer you, let’s say rackets at trade price. You don’t get them free, but you get them heavily discounted or then the next level they may give you rackets or clothing or suits from that company and then the level above that then they might start, they may be paying you to wear that brand and then I would say up and above that they may look to secure you for multiple years in order to wear or use their equipment.
Updated from our article that was originally published on 13th July 2018.
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