In the world of tennis, a “junior player” is a player who has not yet turned 19. Junior tennis tournaments are traditionally held in two-year age-group divisions from 10-and-under to 18-and-under.
For tennis purposes, you are the age you will be at the end of month. If you turn 16 on June 30th, you are considered 16 for the entire month of June, but are considered 15 the preceding May.
A tennis tournament is a formal competition in which players play in head-to-head (or doubles team to doubles team) competition. The most familiar format is the single-elimination tournament, run much like the large professional tournaments like the U.S. Open. Junior tournaments often offer a minimum of two matches, placing first-round losers in a consolation tournament.
A wide variety of organizations run tennis tournaments. A key concept is the difference between a “sanctioned” tournament and a “non-sanctioned” tournament. A sanctioned event is an official United States Tennis Association event. It requires membership in the USTA and the results are used to support rankings.
For many years the United States Tennis Association has promoted competitive tennis for children. One of the ways it supports junior development is providing tournaments of various levels for young players to challenge themselves against other players of similar age and skill. For junior tennis competitions, the USTA divides the country into districts and sections. Madison-area players are eligible for ranking in the Wisconsin District. Top-ranked Wisconsin players are eligible to compete in the Midwest Section, which draws top players from Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and West Virginia. Only the top players from this multi-state region are invited to the USTA national tournaments. A junior player can have district (state), sectional (regional) or national rankings.
In Wisconsin, there are a number of different levels of USTA-affiliated tournaments:
Rankings represent a player’s results in a given age division during a calendar year.
The USTA Wisconsin District website spells out the details, but in short, six tournaments in one age division are required.
Visit www.usta.com for membership information or call 1-800-990-USTA (8782) between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.