Competition Formats

Many people think being competitive means the desire to win at all costs, seeing tennis competition as the classic knockout draw-sheet, famous in the professional events. This format is not what the ITF promotes for 10-and-under players. Physically and psychologically, young players need a very different approach to tennis. One that encourages lots of short, matches, emphasising discovery of the game, effort, improvement and enjoyment, and deemphasising individual results and rivalries.

“Competition for young children is not about winning at all cost, aggression or rivalries. It is about enjoying the challenge of playing games and putting their skills into practice, in a fun, social, and often team environment”

Dave Miley, ITF Executive Director, Development


Scoring Formats

Competition can be great fun for all levels and ages of player. A number of formats and scoring systems exist that are perfect for starter players. These formats offer the chance to meet and play with other players of similar abilities in a fun and friendly atmosphere. The following scoring systems are included in the Rules of Tennis to allow clubs and coaches to tailor competitions to the needs and lifestyles of all players:

  • Short sets (1st to 4 games)
  • 1 Match tiebreak to 7 or 10
  • Best of 3 match tiebreaks to 7
  • 1 Short set (1st to 4 games)
  • Best of 3 short sets (1st to 4 games)
  • Tie break instead of a 3rd set
  • No ad scoring (play 1 game point at deuce)
  • A combination of these

Instead of using single elimination formats, it is recommended to use formats that involve players playing more than one match (round robin / feed in events / compass draws, etc.).

From 1st January 2012, the International Tennis Federation Rules of Tennis state that 10-and-under competitions can no longer be played using a regular Yellow tennis ball, with the mandatory use of slower Red, Orange or Green balls on the appropriate size court. 10-and-under players will benefit from playing team-based or festival formats.

For teenagers and adult starter players who find it difficult to play on a full court with a regular Yellow ball, competitions should be organised using the slower Red, Orange or Green balls.


Different Competition Formats

The following competition formats can be used for all starter players, from Tennis10s to Tennis Xpress, Red, Orange, Green or regular Yellow balls.

Challenge Formats

Challenge formats are competition over long periods of time (eg. a season or a year) where club members can challenge each other to matches. Challenge formats traditionally use a league or pyramid format where winners move up and losers move down. Click here for the different types of Challenge Formats.

Elimination Formats

Elimination formats are traditional knock-out events like those used on the ATP and WTA Tour. They are popular as prize money events, but not so good for beginners or for players who want lots of matches.Click here for the different types of Elimination Formats.

Group Formats

Group formats are competitions which can be used for groups of players. Different rotation formats and round robin can be categorised as group formats. Such competition is excellent for club players, especially if a social element is required. Click here for the different types of Group Formats.

Rotation Formats - Coming soon!

Rotation formats are events where players move round to play matches against different players. Such events can be singles or doubles. The advantage of rotation formats is that everyone gets to play the same number of matches, a feature which makes them well suited to club players.

Team Formats - Coming soon!

Team formats are a very popular type of competition because players enjoy the different challenge of playing tennis as part of a team. Team formats can incorporate both small numbers of players e.g. less than 12, and larger team based competitions e.g. 12 players or more. Small team formats are especially popular with starter players, including Tennis10s and Tennis Xpress, to help introduce the rules of tennis in a fun and competitive environment. Large team formats, such as the Davis Cup and Fed Cup, can simulate a similar structure to competition as seen in the real events.

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