WHAT IS THE ITN?
The International Tennis Number (ITN) is a tennis rating that represents a player’s general level of play and is recognised internationally. In time it is hoped that every tennis player worldwide will have an ITN. The ITN is a supporting programme of the Tennis Play and Stay campaign that works at the club level for all players playing tennis competitively.
The ITN is a system where players are rated on a scale of 10 levels, from ITN 1 to ITN 10. ITN 1 represents a high level player (holding an ATP / WTA ranking or of an equivalent playing standard). ITN 10 is a player who is new to the game and beginning their competitive journey in tennis.
ITN 10.3, 10.2 and 10.1 are for starter players who are unable to play the game (serve, rally and score) with a regular Yellow ball on a full court. They are using the slower Red, Orange and Green balls on smaller courts. A description of standards has been developed to describe each of the 10 rating categories. Click here for the full ITN Description of Standards.
Types of players
Players can be divided into five types within the ITN according to their overall ability. The ITF recommends that the following terminology is used to describe the five types of players:
- ITN 1 should be referred to as Elite / High Performance players.
- ITN 2, 3 or 4 should be referred to as Advanced players.
- ITN 5, 6 or 7 should be referred to as Intermediate players.
- ITN 8, 9 and 10 should be referred to as Recreational players
- ITN 10.3, 10.2 and 10.1 (adults and juniors) should be referred to as starter players
To facilitate the rating of players the ITF has developed a "Description of Standards" and an objective "On-Court Assessment" both of which can be used to rate players in the absence of competition results.
The objectives of the ITN are to:
- Encourage increased participation of tennis
- Unite tennis under a common rating language
- Encourage National Associations to implement a competitive tennis rating system in their own country
- Promote a variety of tennis competition formats which are linked to the tennis rating system
- Give more options for finding compatible playing partners and therefore more enjoyable competitive play
- Facilitate the movement of all levels of players between countries
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HOW WILL I BE RATED?
The methods of rating players can vary depending on the situation in the country, region or club and include two methods of rating players.
Objective methods of rating players
Players' competitive history
The best method of initially rating players and for adjusting a tennis player's rating is through competitive results. Whenever possible a player's ITN rating should be based on their most recent competitive play.
ITN On-Court Assessment
The ITF recommends that if insufficient competitive results exist for a player to be accurately rated, that the ITN On-Court Assessment should be used as the next best way to rate the player. In light of the fact that some recreational players are not able (for different reasons) to play competitively, the ITF would recommend that these players are allowed to improve their ITN rating up to ITN 7 by completing the ITN On-Court Assessment. After players reach a rating of ITN 7 their ITN rating should only be adjusted through competition results.
It is recognised that the ITN On-Court Assessement is an excellent promotional tool for players of all levels and it will allow players of all levels to measure their improvement and development in specific areas related to their level of play. It can also provide a form of accountability to coaches working with starter and recreational players. Coaches should ask the following example questions to assess the player's level:
After a certain amount of coaching is the player more accurate, more consistent, hitting with more depth and power etc.
Are the coaches helping the player to play more effectively?
Non-objective methods of rating players
Independent verifiers / classifiers
Some National Associations may want to pass the responsibility for rating players to independent persons who understand the ITN system. These persons could be the club coach / club manager / tournament director and would be expected to use the ITN Description of Standards guidelines to rate players. Some National Associations have already produced videos to help these classifiers with their task.
Players can rate themselves using the ITN Description of Standards guidelines provided, click here. It is recognised that independent verifiers / classifiers and self-rating is usually less accurate than using the competitive history or the objective ITN On Court Assessment. Whichever method is used, once the player is rated and begins to play matches at their level (i.e. within their ITN rating category), their rating should move (according to the results against other rated players) to the correct ITN within a relatively short time. If players are not able to play in regular rated competition they may choose to retake the objective ITN On Court Assessment to measure their improvement.
Players can enter their ITN in their profile logging into their account in
ti.tournamentsoftware.com. The ITN option is available on the ‘overview’ page (left panel). Once this is done the number will remain unchanged until the periodic calculations using tournament results are processed (yearly in November).
Different competitive groups
The taskforce gave a great deal of thought to the different competitive groups that compete within a typical national federation, such as juniors, adults, veterans and wheelchair tennis players. However it was decided that only one International Tennis Rating System would be operated and that juniors, adults, veterans and wheelchair tennis players would be rated within the same system based on their current level of play.
The issue of doubles was also considered. Again it was felt that a separate doubles rating would complicate the International Tennis Rating System at this time and that for doubles matches, the rating of the team should be determined by combining both player's ITN and arriving at an average. A calculation system has been developed to allow doubles results to be counted towards the singles ITN of each player.
Men and Women
The ITN scale for women and for men is different. For example, under the ITN system an ITN 4 rated male is not the same competitive level as an ITN 4 rated female. The ITN On-Court Assessment scoring table reflects this in so far as the points corresponding to the various ITN levels are different for men and women.
Wheelchair Tennis Players
Wheelchair tennis players can also receive an ITN Rating. In order to do so they should use the general characteristics of the ITN Description of Standards or undergo an ITN On-Court Assessment. The mobility element of the assessment may need to be modified to take account of the fact that the wheelchair tennis player is allowed two bounces when competing.
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RATINGS versus RANKINGS
A rating is a description of standards that is used to determine the general competitive level of a player. It groups players of similar level together within a category band:
- ITN 1: Elite / High Performance
- ITN 2 - 4: Advanced
- ITN 5 - 7: Intermediate
- ITN 8 - 9: Recreational
- ITN 10: Starter
The relative level of players within each band is not determined by the rating system. This is the job of a ranking system.
The most well known example of global rating in sport is the Golf Handicap.
A ranking is a more accurate estimate of the relative standard of players, based usually upon specific tournament results or competitions. A ranking is a comparison of similarly ‘rated’ players based on results of players within a specific rating category. For example in the proposed ITN 1 rating category, ATP / WTA rankings would represent a ranking within this rating category.
Most countries use rankings that they produce on a regular basis at various levels of their national game. However the ITF estimates that there are less than 20 countries worldwide that have a national rating system.
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