It can be difficult for kids (and parents) to understand the LTA age groups, what tournaments they can enter and when they will move to a new ball colour.
From 1st April 2020, the start of the summer season, the age groups of junior players in the UK will be based on their year of birth. The new age groups will replace the seasonal system which has confused many tennis parents and players!
The benefits of the new age groups are:
- More flexible – players will be able to choose to ‘play up’ earlier between red, orange and green ball tennis.
- A new 11U age group – to ease the transition from Green Ball to Yellow Ball tennis and diminish the relative age effect at an age when 12 months can make a big difference in a child’s size and ability.
- Alignment to international tournament levels.
Remember that players will still use different ball colours (red, orange, green and yellow) and court sizes based on their age.
Working out your child’s current age group
This table makes it easy to work out what LTA age group you will be in after 1st April 2020 and what LTA tournaments you can enter.
If your child was born in 2007, then they will be a 14U player and they can play in tournaments for players aged 14U, 16U and 18U.
A child born in 2011 will be a 9U (orange) player and they can play in 9U (orange ball) and 10U (green ball) tournaments. The new age groups give them the flexibility to play up into 10U (green) tournaments if they want to. That was not possible with the old age groups.
Moving to a new ball
Within coaching programs, Tennis(24/7)’s coaching team recommend that children only move to a new ball when they’re ready and that is dependent on their ability. The different balls (red then orange then green), the smaller court sizes and shorter racket lengths help children to control the ball and scale down the court to a manageable size. If children are moved up before they’re ready they may struggle – and that will make their tennis less fun.
However, be aware that when you are entering a competition, the LTA age-based groups in the table above apply.
In the video below, you can see a summary of what this all means for your child’s tennis.
Why are the LTA Age Groups changing
“The move will provide more flexibility than the current system, with players able to ‘play up’ earlier between red, orange and green ball tennis. An 11U age group is being introduced to aid the transition from Green Ball to Yellow Ball tennis and mitigate any relative age effect. It will also bring national domestic competitions in line with the system used at an international level and with the LTA’s Player Pathway, as well as matching the system already used for in seniors’ tennis to deliver a standardised approach across all age groups.”
The LTA’s tennis tournament seasons
The tennis seasons are:
- Winter: 1 September – 31 March
- Summer: 1 April – 31 August
The LTA have released this information on the age groups: Competition Age Group changes
To enter an LTA tournament: Competitions for Everyone
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This article is updated from one originally published on: Mar 5, 2018