Introduction to Competing
It can seem quite daunting to introduce your child to the world of tennis competitions. There is, of course, no expectation that every child at Latika should be competing, but it can be a really rewarding opportunity to put their skills into action. If you're unsure whether they are ready, then please do discuss with their coach for advice. However if you want to give them a go, here are some helpful tips to get you started.
1) Create a Junior LTA Advantage Account
Firstly, to get your child into any official competitions, they need their own LTA advantage account and a BTM number. BTM stands for British Tennis Membership. The BTM number is a unique identifying code that The Lawn tennis Association ( LTA ) allocates to individual tennis players in Great Britain.
To create this account for your child please go to this part of the LTA website to register them. Please note this account should be for your child's details. This will be separate to the LTA account you use on our clubspark account to book them into sessions. You should have your own Parent LTA account for bookings, your child needs their own LTA account for competing and rankings.
2) Your child's age.
The year your child was born determines the age group of competitions they can enter. Below is a snapshot of the age groups/type of ball and years of birth that can enter:
The LTA also has an age calculator here. Input your child's DOB and it will tell you the competitions they are eligible to enter.
3) Picking competitions.
All tennis competitions are graded based on advised skill/experience level which helps you gauge the sort of players your child will compete alongside. Latika runs internal tournaments throughout the year which are usually a grade 7 and for members only. Aside from internal tournaments, a good place to start is grade 6 events. These are aimed at children new to competing and include LTA Youth Matchplay events. Once your child has had good results in grade 6 events, you move on to grade 5 and through the levels of grading. As children make their way up the graded events, their ranking and ITF number might determine what events they can enter (more on that in point 5.)
For a more detailed description of the grades, take a look here.
4) Entering competitions.
Once you have your child's LTA account created and have worked out their starting age group and grade, you can start searching for competitions. The LTA competitions page is where you need to start. You can search by LTA Youth Matchplay only (a great entry level tournament) or filter by area, age group, and grades. The LTA system won't allow you to book your child into a competition they are not eligible for (i.e. wrong age group, member-only, ranking only, etc). Competitions are not free; price will vary by venue and competition format. To book onto competitions, you will need to be logged in using the LTA account you created for your child.
Here's a run-through of what happens when you search and enter a tournament:
- Go to LTA Competitions and click on the Tournaments tab
- You can click on LTA Youth Matchplay to find all the events in that category (this is a great entry level). Alternatively, click on the advanced search button to filter as you need.
- The filters will appear down the right hand side.
- First select the date range you want to search within.
- You can then either select a county to search in or input your post code and select a travel radius (depending on how far you are happy to travel!)
- Select the grade of tournament you want to search for. Grade 6 will include LTA Youth Matchplay and other starter level events. The guide to grades is here.
- You can filter by status if wanted (selecting open for entries will ensure you only see competitions that are taking bookings)
- You can filter by type of tournament (though filtering by grade and age should be detailed enough)
- Finally select the age group.
- This will show all the tournaments that meet your criteria.
- Tournaments that are open for booking will have a green ONLINE ENTRY BUTTON next to them like below:
- Click on the name of the tournament to read more about the event.
- The overview page gives very basic information. The fact sheet will give you more details about the venue, location, type of court and any other entry criteria. Be sure to check the court type as tournaments won't always be on similar courts to Latika.
- Events will show all the age group events running within the tournament. If you click on the event you wish to enter your child into, you will see the players who have entered so far.
- The players/draws and matches tabs won't update until the event is ready to start.
- Click on ENTER at the top of the page to add your child to the tournament.
- Login with your child's LTA Advantage account.
- The next page will show your child's name, address and BTM tennis number. Below this you need to select the event you are entering your child into, like below
- Once you select the event, you need to accept the terms and conditions, then press SUBMIT.
- You will then need to pay for the event.
Once this is done you will receive a confirmation email. Before the event organisers usually send out an email confirming timings and details for the day. If you're unsure of anything, contact the organiser of the event. Their details should be in the confirmation email, if not they will be on the fact sheet tab of the event.
Each event has a withdrawal deadline, up until this date you can withdraw your child and get a full refund so if you do change your mind you can do so. If you do not turn up to a event without contacting the organiser, your child can be subject to withdrawal disciplinary points so do always make sure you contact the organiser if you need to withdraw after the deadline.
5) Your child's ITF and ranking.
Every competition and tournament your child enters gives them the opportunity to improve their ITF and ranking.
What is an ITF World Tennis Number?
The ITF World Tennis Number is a new rating system for all tennis players across the world which will make it easier for everyone who plays tennis in Britain to play against opponents of a similar standard. It is a numerical ranking that starts from 40 (recreational players) through to 1 (professional). Every set and match counts towards their number. Each player has one ITF for singles results and another for doubles. Only players over the age of 10 will receive an ITF world tennis number. They will appear on their LTA Competition profile like below:
The number in brackets after Emma's name is her BTM number. Her singles ITF number is 1 (PRO) and her doubles is 16.2
To read more about the ITF World Tennis Number and how it is calculated, you can visit the LTA site here.
What are LTA Rankings?
Separate to the ITF World Tennis number, all competing players receive ranking points which determine how they compare to the rest of their competitors in their age group. Only competitions grade 5 and above (i.e. grade 5-1) will count towards ranking. To read more about how ranking works, read on the LTA site here.
You can also look at the player profiles of those who have entered competitions, along with their current ITF World Tennis Numbers and ranking. This can help you gauge the level of players your child will compete against and assess if it's the right fit.
There are a huge amount of resources on the LTA website for further reading which we would encourage parents to read: Parent's Area - Competing
The LTA also run a really useful webinar called "LTA Competition Parenting Workshop - Online Webinar", this is run regularly throughout the year so keep an eye out for new dates.
We also have a helpful video on our Facebook members page Latika Junior Tennis Club Members by Will (ex-player and coach at Latika), which explains competing in more detail. You need a password to join the Facebook group which is shared in our newsletters. If you do not have the password, please email [email protected]
If you have any other questions related to competing please email [email protected] and we will be happy to give extra guidance.