To grow the game around the world it is important that players learn to play the game, that is they learn to serve, rally and score as soon as they are able to. Competition is at the heart of playing tennis and the vision to have every player around the world with access to a rating, whether internationally, nationally or locally at their tennis club, increases the likelihood of more people being able to play tennis with each other.
The ITF has more than 210 National Associations affiliated to it. Many of them have a ranking system but currently less than 20 have a rating system in place. For the growth of the game, nationally and internationally, it is hoped that more National Associations will develop a national rating system and that the ITN will provide the basis for any new systems developed. It is envisaged that the ITN will also compliment and run along side existing national rating systems providing them with an international perspective to their system.
The ITF name will no doubt help the credibility of the national rating system but ultimately each National Association should be responsible for running their own system and managing the rating classification and rerating.
Implementing the ITN at National Federation Level
In many parts of the world, the foundation of any tennis programme is the club system. Club-based tennis has been the hallmark of many of the world’s leading tennis nations such as France, Spain, Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic.
In these countries, clubs are where players first learn to play the game, enter competitions and have their first rating. In these countries there is a specific system followed by all sports. The building block in each case is the club. In terms of competition and ratings or rankings, the club can be viewed as the base of the pyramid while the National Championships and the national ratings / rankings represent the apex of the pyramid.
The success of the ITN at national level will depend upon the successful adoption and implementation at club level.
Implementation of the ITN at Club Level
Clubs can help with the implementation of the ITN by:
- Having their coaches trained as ITN verifiers;
- Arranging for all their members to be rated by organising ITN rating clinics / assessments periodically;
- Organising rating tournaments for players rated in different categories; and
- Organising intra and inter club events for rated players.
The way forward
The ITF recognises that the success of the International Tennis Rating project will be measured by its ability to be implemented at club / recreational level. The ITF encourages each National Association to focus on this.
The more the ITN and the ITN On-Court Assessment is used as a basis for recreational and starter competitive activities, the more it will grow in popularity. Thus, any tennis promotional activity such as instructional programmes, round-robin competitions, social matches, parties, leagues, challenge ladders and inter-club competitions, should be linked to and include references to the ITN whenever possible.
As the ITN becomes more widespread and credible the International Tennis Rating project will gain popularity and eventually international tennis activities for all levels of players based on the ITN will become feasible.
The ITF hope that the ITN will not only create interest in the project among our member nations but will also help current and prospective players around the world to effectively implement a rating system in their country, region or club.
The ITN...what’s your number?