The International Tennis Federation (ITF) and Tennis Europe have announced an enhanced pathway between the 16 & Under Tennis Europe Junior Tour and the 18 & Under ITF World Tennis Tour Juniors to further opportunities for the best junior talent in Europe.
From 2020, reserved places in the main draws of ITF Junior tournaments in Europe will be available for players based on their Tennis Europe ranking. This system will extend the ITF player pathway within Europe and create a clear link between regional and global competition while ensuring that junior players are playing at the most appropriate level to optimise their development.
The criteria for reserved places will depend on the Grade of tournament and will only be available to players aged 15 and 16 – with players aged 14 and under encouraged to continue playing in Tennis Europe events in the best interests of their long-term development.
ITF President David Haggerty welcomed the pathway enhancements, saying: “The ITF is committed to providing a clear and efficient pathway, maximising opportunities for the most talented players to progress. This new partnership with Tennis Europe will support the transition for juniors within this region, and we are looking to expand this initiative in discussion with our other Regional Associations.
We will continue to optimise the structures that will allow our junior players to maximise their potential and talent”. Tennis Europe Junior Committee Chair, Eva-Maria Schneider commented: "We would like to underline the importance of a beneficial pathway for our young players.
16 & Under tournaments have traditionally struggled to attract top players as many of them try to jump directly to the 18 & Under circuit. With this project, 16 & Unders are rewarded for playing age-appropriate events, and we are better able to support them on their path to ITF Junior tournaments”.
This announcement comes after the successful introduction of junior reserved places at the $15,000 event level of the ITF World Tennis Tour. Reserved places have allowed junior players who have earned a high ITF junior ranking through their performance at junior level to contest professional events and in many cases helped them to establish themselves at this higher level.
So far in 2019, 450 players have taken up junior reserved main draw places with 9 tournament winners and 51 instances of a player reaching the semifinal or better.