Photographer: Paul Zimmer
Date: 12 Jan 2012
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|12 Jan 2012|
|Regular tennis ball eliminated from 10&U competition|
The ITF announced that its new rule for ten-and-under competition came into worldwide effect|
on 1 January 2012. The rule states that ten-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.
The new ITF rule was approved at the 2010 ITF AGM in Washington. This was only the fifth
occasion the ITF Rules of Tennis have been changed in the history of the sport, following on
from the foot fault rule, introduction of the tiebreak, introduction of set breaks and the new
optional scoring methods.
The rule change is a key part of the ITF’s Tennis10s programme, which promotes the use of
slower and lower bouncing balls, shorter and lighter rackets, and smaller courts to make it
easier for children to take up the game.
Tennis10s is a supporting programme of the Tennis Play and Stay campaign, the ITF’s global
initiative launched in 2007 aimed at increasing tennis participation worldwide. Tennis Play and
Stay centres around the slogan of ‘Serve, Rally and Score’ and seeks to promote tennis as an
easy, fun and healthy sport. Fundamental to the campaign is the use of slower balls by
coaches working with starter players, ensuring that their first experience of tennis is a positive
one by serving, rallying and scoring from the first lesson.
The three types of slower balls are intended to be used at different stages of a player’s
development. The ‘red’ ball, made of foam or felt, is 75 per cent slower than a regular yellow
ball, and aimed at children aged five to eight on a court sized 12 x 6m. The ‘orange’ ball is 50
per cent slower and aimed at eight-to-ten-year-olds on a court sized 18 x 6.5m. The ‘green’
ball is 25 per cent slower and aimed at more advanced nine-to-ten-year-olds on a full sized
The Tennis10s programme has already seen strong support from the ITF’s 210 National
Associations, some of whom have created promotions involving top players and other famous
personalities to help communicate and implement the new rule change nationally.
Dave Miley, ITF Executive Director of Development, said: “Nations that have already adapted
their competition to use the balls for this age group have not only seen a significant increase
in participation, but are also witnessing large increases in sales of kids’ rackets and the
slower balls. There has also been a big improvement in the technical and tactical quality of
the ten-and-under players coming through into their high performance junior programmes. As
the rule change takes effect in all of the ITF member nations, we expect to see high growth in
the number of ten-and-under children playing tennis worldwide.”
ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “The rule change is a great step forward for tennis.
Tennis10s is improving the way we introduce tennis to young children and follows similar
changes made in other sports. It is great to see such great results already in terms of
Details of the rule change and further information on Tennis10s can be found on the ITF’s
Tennis10s website: www.tennis10s.com