We recently launched our trip to the ITF Seniors tournament at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar in October - but what is an ITF Seniors competition and why should you get involved?
We spoke to Matt Byford, the Seniors Tennis Manager at the ITF, who explains what it's all about:
The ITF Seniors Circuit provides the opportunity to play competitive tennis among players of a similar age. Competitions are run in five-year age groups, ranging from 35 & Over, to 85 & Over with singles, doubles and mixed doubles events available.
Currently more than 26,000 players around the world take part in ITF Seniors tournaments and there are 450 tournaments a year worldwide. Our mission is to make ITF Seniors Tennis the leading sport in terms of competitive player participation.
Competing is ultimately lots of fun and a great way to test your skills, improve your tennis and experience a challenge. Health and fitness is a major motivation for a number of players on the circuit and the friendship and camaraderie built among players is very special. It's also a great chance to travel the world and play tennis in some beautiful places.
There is a World Ranking System for ITF Seniors so those playing and winning matches in any ITF Seniors tournament can earn themselves an ITF World Seniors Ranking.
Similarly to Local Tennis Leagues, there is no minimum standard required to play. Any player aged 35 and over is welcome to enter.
Tournaments are given a classification from Grade A to 5 by the ITF to indicate the likely standard of play. This enables players to enter tournaments at an appropriate level, with Grade A the highest standard and Grade 5 the lowest. If you are playing in Seniors tennis for the first time it is probably best to start at a lower level tournament, a sentiment echoed by Matt below:
I would suggest the usual path for a keen Local Tennis League player aged 35+ would be play some Seniors events at ITF grade 3, 4 or 5.
How do YOU get involved?
Want to give Seniors tennis a go? Why not join us at the ITF Seniors Tournament (Grade 5) at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar this October (pictured above, ITF tournament officials Alex and Laura with players from last year's event). More details on the trip, including information on how to book, can be found here.
To be able to compete in any ITF event you will need to:
1. Register for an IPIN with the ITF (via www.ITFTennis.com/seniors.)
An IPIN is the ITF version of the British Tennis Membership and allows players from all over the world to enter ITF Seniors Circuit tournaments. Currently the IPIN fee is $25 for the full year. Please note this does not include tournament entry fees (this fee is included in the price of the event at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar this October).
2. Find and enter the tournament using the ITF Online Service.
And are there ITF Seniors tournaments in Great Britain too?
Yes, Seniors Tennis GB organise ITF competitions throughout the year. Have a look at the Seniors Tennis GB Competition Calendar to see what's on offer.
One tournament coming up is the Regents Park Will to Win Open in London (ITF Grade 5), which runs from 20th to the 25th August. There will be some excellent tennis on show, so do go down to watch and get a feel for Seniors tennis if you are in the area. Check the calendar on the link above if you would like to enter future tournaments here.