The International Tennis Federation has announced the launch of the ITF World Tennis Tour, which it hopes will serve as a player pathway between the junior game and elite levels of the sport.
The Tour will debut in 2019 and will be designed to support junior players during their progression to the senior game, with prize money to be targeted effectively at professional tournaments to enable more players to make a living.
A higher number of nations will also be invited to tournaments as the ITF seeks to provide more players with opportunities to compete.
The ITF World Tennis Tour will form part of a new worldwide tournament structure that the ITF has agreed upon with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
ITF World Tennis Tour tournaments will be split into three categories. The first category will feature tournaments offering ATP and WTA Ranking points, and will also award ITF World Tennis Ranking points. The second category will comprise men’s and women’s $15,000 (€13,000) tournaments, offering ITF World Tennis Ranking points. The third category will be for junior tournaments (Grade A-5), offering ITF Junior World Ranking points.
The reforms are a culmination of a three-year review by the ITF into professional and junior tennis that included an analysis of player and event data from 2001 to 2013, and a survey of more than 50,000 stakeholders.
The ITF said the introduction of the ITF World Tennis Ranking would ensure a “consistent approach for entries into all events”. Players will use their ATP or WTA ranking followed by their ITF ranking. The implementation of the new ATP, WTA and ITF ranking systems will take place at the end of the year.
ITF president David Haggerty said: “The ITF World Tennis Tour provides a clear and integrated pathway designed to attract and retain the best new talent. As part of our ITF 2024 strategy, it is our mission to deliver for the next generation of players, and the new Tour will help address the issues of progression between the junior and senior game, and potentially enable more professional players to make a living.”