The USTA announced today that it has passed new rules governing competition for 10-and-under tennis tournaments. The new rules require that 10-and-under tournaments be played using slower-moving and lower-bouncing balls, on smaller courts and utilizing shorter, lighter racquets. The rule change follows the International Tennis Federation’s recent rule change and will take effect on January 1, 2012. It will apply to all USTA-sanctioned events for children 10-and-under.
"We’re very excited about what this change means to the future of tennis in the United States," said Lucy S. Garvin, Chairman of the Board and President, USTA, and Chairman of the US Open. "Competition is an important element of learning and growing the game, and now all children 10 and under will have the proper platform with which to compete."
The rule change signifies the emergence of the QuickStart play format as an integral part of the development of young players. The scaled-down equipment and smaller playing court will allow kids to rally and play the game early on, increasing the likelihood that kids will return to the court and continue to improve.
"Scaling tennis down to the size of children will promote greater participation and ensure that young kids will be able to play tennis much more quickly," said Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. "This rule change to the competition format for kids 10 and under is critical to the long-term growth of our sport, and ultimately will help us develop new generations of talented players."
The specifications for the revised rule hold that all tournaments for those aged 9-10 be played on 60-foot courts using orange low-compression tennis balls and regulation nets (3 feet at the center) or, for those more experienced and more skilled players, on 78-foot courts with green lower-compression balls. Tournaments for those 8 and under are to be played on 36-foot courts using red foam balls and nets at a height of 2 feet, 9 inches.
The change in tournament format by both the USTA and the ITF was reached after weighing the benefits for beginners as well as recurring and high-performing youth players. Studies have found that competition, when conducted in a welcoming environment that allows for multiple play opportunities, enhances kids’ enjoyment of the game. And for aspiring collegiate and professional players, the QuickStart Tennis play format fosters proper technique and enhances strategy, key components to success in competitive play.
In addition to the USTA, the change has been endorsed by USTA Player Development and supported by the Tennis Industry Association and teaching pros throughout the country. Moreover, in May the Intercollegiate Tennis Association approved a measure to allow NCAA competition to take place on courts with blended lines (i.e., courts lined to accommodate both 10-and-Under Tennis and 78-foot tennis).
"Competition is at the very heart of our sport," said Patrick McEnroe, General Manager, USTA Player Development. "And learning how to play tennis the right way, with the right strokes and the proper technique, is beneficial for kids both now and into the future, whether they pursue the game recreationally or at the very highest levels."
For more information on the rule change, please visit www.usta.com/rulechange.