A quick recap of the current USTA tournament system prior to 2021:
There are 17 sections within the USTA organization and each section has their own Early Development pathway, tournament and ranking system. Starting with Early development level, ROGY program aiming to help kick start 10U and 12U players. It is really up to each section to organize and promote these programs and competitive events.
For more serious players, sectional tournament circuit consists of 6-7 different level tournaments. Players from each section compete in tournaments within their area (known as sectional tournaments), their wins will earn them points and together will be counted towards their sectional ranking. Each section again, has their own sectional ranking system. On top of this, there are National tournaments from L3 to L1. Players from anywhere in the country may sign up and compete at these national tournaments, their existing sectional ranking (and national ranking) will determine their qualification for entry into national tournaments. The points they earn by winning matches at national events will count toward their sectional ranking and a separate National Ranking.
This current tournament system did carry a few flaws:
- Players from different sections may sign up and compete in tournaments organized by other sections but no ranking points will be awarded for their wins because they are not registered in the particular section where the tournament is held.
- Within a section, there could be up to 9 different tournament levels and it can be confusing with their creative labels and names -especially for upcoming players. See image above for tournament labels used in different sections across the country.
- Players who compete in sectional and national tournaments will have 2 separate rankings.
- Ranking positions have no correlation from section to section. Top 20 or top 10 players from one section might be at a different level compared to those at other sections.
So what exactly is this new Tournament system which is scheduled to launch in 2021?
The biggest change is the unification of tournament system nationwide. Across the country, there will only be one tournament system or competition system.
Starting with entry level of competition, players have option to compete in Team Challenge, Team Tournament and Team League. Levels include Red Ball, Orange, Green and Yellow ball. These events offer players a more relax environment particularly for players who are not competitive and lack experience.
The next step up is the Tournament Circuit, that consists of 7 different levels L7 to L1 (L1 being the highest level). Players now can earn ranking points starting with L7 tournaments.
L7 is the entry level with round-robin or compass draw format. It guarantees the players a minimum number of matches regardless of results. L6-L1 will be in elimination format; L2 and L1 are considered National Level Tournaments.
In summary, improvements from the new competition system include:
- Unification of tournaments nationwide. There is only one competition system, from entry level to tournament circuits. Level of tournaments will be clearly indicated with L7-L1 (L1 being the highest level)
- Players may earn ranking points according to the level of tournaments they play in, regardless of where they are.
- There will only be 1 ranking system, all players will share 1 perspective ranking.
With one system and more straight forward pathway, the new unification of tournament ought to bring in much needed clarification and simplicity to a rather confusing tournament circuit. We are looking forward to see how this new system can help grow the game starting in 2021, and especially we yearn to see the tournament circuit back in full swing as soon as possible.
More updates to come soon about the Unification of Junior Tournaments…