The ITF manages the initial stages of the players’ global pathway to professional tennis. In 2017 this includes:
1. Junior Circuit for girls and boys aged 18U
2. Women’s Pro Circuit – five levels [15k, 25k, 60k, 80k and 100k].
3. Men’s Pro Circuit – two levels [15k and 25k].
In 2014 the ITF undertook a project to review the player pathway, with the aim of ensuring the optimal functioning of the circuits to enable talented young players to reach the higher levels of professional tennis. The first part of the project comprised a detailed review of professional tennis below Tour level with the ultimate goals of:
• raising prize money and player earnings;
• raising event standards;
• maintaining and improving the performance pathway for developing nations.
The second part of the project involved a review of the junior game, with the aim of making the pathway through the various levels of the junior game and on to the professional circuit clearer and more easily navigable by the best junior players. The review of the junior circuit is still ongoing, although some changes have already been approved.
SUMMARY OF JUNIOR CIRCUIT REVIEW
The Junior Review project is in two parts:
1. A detailed analysis of all available player data from 2001 to the present day. This has been undertaken in partnership with Tennis Australia’s data science team.
2. A stakeholder survey conducted and analysed by Kingston University in London.
The results of stage one of the data analysis and of the stakeholder surveys can be found in the pdfs below.
In 2016 the tournament limitation policy, which linked the maximum number of tournaments a nation could host on the ITF Junior Circuit to the number of shares it held in the ITF, was suspended, with a new policy to be drafted based on the findings of the Junior Review. Changes were also made to Circuit regulations on officiating and hospitality requirements with the aim of reducing costs for tournament organisers and making it easier for more nations to join the Circuit.
In March 2017 the ITF Board of Directors approved the introduction in 2019 of an ITF Transition Tour, featuring a new category of interim tournament at entry-level that will better aid the transition from junior to professional tennis and ensure a continued opportunity for players from any nation to join the player pathway.
Transition Tour tournaments will be created through the repositioning of the existing $15,000 (Level I) tournaments on the ITF Pro Circuit that will no longer be held in 2019. Transition Tour tournaments will offer ITF Entry Points instead of ATP/WTA ranking points, with the two systems linked to ensure that the more successful players are able to use their ITF Entry Points to gain acceptance into ITF Pro Circuit tournaments and above.
This restructuring will result in the creation of a new ‘truly professional group’ of players numbering in the region of 750 men and 750 women. This group will compete at Level II Pro Circuit events and above with those events offering ATP and WTA ranking points. By reducing the number of professional players and introducing a set number of job opportunities each week, the professional game will financially reward more players and introduce a much clearer pathway into the professional game.