A couple of days back, the All India Tennis Association (AITA) made major changes to the national tennis circuit for the juniors. The move was facilitated with an aim to improve the players’ playing standards and couple it with an up-beat passion for tennis.
Here is all you need to know about the new reforms:
The National Juniors Circuit is divided into four age groups: U-12, U-14, U-16 and U-18.
The U-12 players will be allowed to participate in a maximum of 18 events from January to December. The U-14 players will be allowed to participate in 25 tournaments and the U-16 players in 30 tournaments. There is no such restriction for players of the U-18 category. Since the new rules are immediately under effect, this season’s participation count will be from April to December.
The tournaments will be held only at centres and academies that are registered with the AITA. A registered venue is eligible to host tournaments of two different age groups in the same week only if there are six courts with proper illumination.
Tournaments will no longer be conducted for a period of three days. Each tournament will now be spread across a full week. In a given week, there can be more than one Talent or Championship series for a particular age group. However, the same does not apply to the Super and National Series. There will be no on-court coaching for the players.
Each state will organize three tiers of tournaments.
First, there will be six Talent series tournaments which will be followed by a Championship or Super series events and finally a National Series event. At the zenith of this pyramid lies the National Championships.
The Talent series will award 15 points to the champion, the Championship series will allow 25, the Super Series 50 and the National Series will reward 75 points to the victor. The National Championships will give 200 points to the champion.
Rankings for a player will be based on the results of his/her eight best singles results and 25% of eight best doubles results.
Players participating in the Talent series should be ranked outside the Top 150 of any age group. Moreover, the Top 75 of any age group will not be allowed to participate in the Championship series. Additionally, Talent series participants of a particular zone will have restricted participations from players of that zone.
A positive news coming in for the junior players is that the participants will now get a daily allowance in each event. The allowance is mandatory for all players for each day he/she remains active in an event. If a day’s play is washed out due to rain or any other circumstances, the players will still get the allowance. The daily allowance for players participating in National series is INR 800, for Super series it shall be INR 600 and INR 400 for Championship series.
The participation in National Championships is mandatory for players who want to further represent the country by paving their way into the National Team. National Championships will provide an allowance of INR 1000 to the players.
Jonathan Stubbs, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Development Officer for South, South East and East Asia said this a few months ago:
“Indian kids focus a lot on Juniors but do not put the same rigor early to prepare for the Pro tour.”
It is now a matter of time to see if the changes made by the AITA on the junior circuit can shape these young athletes for the elusive seniors.