Global Rule Change for 10 and Under Tennis

December 18, 2011

On January 1, 2012 the rules of tennis officially will be changed and require that 10 and Under Tennis tournaments be played utilizing smaller, lighter racquets and lower-bouncing balls on smaller courts. The change was adopted by the USTA in the summer of 2010.

This rule change signifies the emergence of 10 and Under Tennis as an integral part of the development of young players. The scaled-down equipment and smaller courts better allow kids to rally and play the game earlier in their development, and increase the likelihood that they will return to the court and continue to improve while having fun doing it.

“We want tennis to be fun and accessible to kids as they enter the game,” said Jon Vegosen, USTA Chairman of the Board and President. “Similar to other sports such as baseball, basketball and soccer, kids will now learn and compete on the right-sized court with the right-sized equipment, which will help us grow the game.”

“Scaling tennis to the size of children will promote greater participation and ensure that young kids will be able to play tennis by developing their skills much more quickly,” said Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “This rule change to the competition format for kids ages 10 and under is critical to the long-term growth of our sport, and ultimately will help us develop new generations of world-class players.”

The specifications for the revised rule hold that all tournaments for those ages 9 and 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 years old and younger are to be played on 36-foot courts using either red low-compression balls or foam balls and nets at a height of 2 feet, 9 inches.

In preparation of this global rule change, in 2011 the USTA helped install more than 3,000 youth-sized tennis courts in 283 markets in 45 states throughout the country. The courts were either constructed or refurbished by painting permanent 36-foot and 60-foot tennis lines on existing 78-foot tennis courts, or constructing stand-alone 36-foot and 60-foot courts. These courts were built in 502 facilities, which include public parks, schoolyards, tennis facilities and at local community-based youth organizations.

Many traditional 78-foot courts are also seeing an impact of 10 and Under Tennis as some are now featuring 60-foot blended lines. Blended lines are painted in a different, more subtle color than the traditional lines, which enable courts to be adapted for both adults and younger children to play on the same courts without confusion.

The installation of the 3,000 youth-sized tennis courts is designed to also encourage children in diverse communities to become more active by playing tennis. Earlier this year, the USTA made a commitment to build the 3,000 courts.