Competitive Tennis Developments for 2020

Following approval by the Board at its December meeting, Tennis Ireland is planning to launch a new rating system for players during 2020, developed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) in partnership with Tennis Ireland and the National Federations of the UK, USA, France and Canada. 

The new rating system, called the World Tennis Number (WTN), will aim to break down one of the sport’s key barriers to participation – uneven match-ups – allowing players of all abilities to determine their individual level.

This will help players identify opponents and competitions of an appropriate standard, giving access to more competitive and enjoyable playing opportunities.  The implementation of the WTN is one of a series of ongoing improvements Tennis Ireland has been making to its competition structures as part of the “Transforming Competitions” pillar of its Strategy.

To ensure the rating system meets the needs of players from a recreational level through to the performance end of the sport, Tennis Ireland’s James Cooney, as a key member of the ITF’s Ratings Advisory group, has played a crucial role in the development of the platform and has also ensured, amongst other things, that a doubles algorithm was developed, and that club and social play can be included within the rating.

The platform will create a global online tennis community, enabling players to access their WTN from anywhere in the world, record and measure their progress, and interact with other tennis players. The digital platform will also assist tournament organisers with the staging of competitions based on ability levels.

With parallels to the ‘handicap’ system used in golf, the new World Tennis Number will be used by the majority of nations around the world to help create a common language relating to ability across tennis. 

The WTN will help drive participation and increase level-based play and competition.  It will lead to more innovative competitions including perhaps genderless and ageless events in our clubs and beyond.

The WTN system will operate based on the following principles:

  • It will feature player ratings for both singles and doubles
  • It will accurately reflect the playing standard of each player irrespective of where they play and which tournaments they play in through the use of a patented algorithm that not only looks at the result but also counts sets won
  • It will be a dynamic system which will change on a weekly basis, allowing players to better track their progress
  • It will works for all players – from recreational players at grassroots level to international competitors
  • It is a system which is gender and age neutral and rates all players on the same scale.
  • It will complement our ranking systems at Junior, Senior and Veterans level

Tennis Ireland Chief Executive Richard Fahey said, “We are looking forward to introducing the World Tennis Number as the new rating for players of all abilities across Ireland during 2020. We have worked with the ITF, USTA and FFT to develop a dynamic and accurate measure that helps people find players of a similar level and which supports our wider plans to grow tennis opening it up too many more people. We are also particularly pleased that a doubles rating will be included, recognising the popularity of doubles amongst players across Ireland.  We have and will continue to invest more in the Competitions area and this has been supported by funding from Sport Ireland, commercial revenue and through increasing revenues via Tournament Capitation fees which will see a modest increase of €1 in 2020, the first increase in many years.”

The introduction of the World Tennis Number ratings system is one of several competition improvements that Tennis Ireland is implementing as part of the implementation of its Strategy.

Alongside the new ratings system, Tennis Ireland has more than doubled the resources within its Competitions Department, enabling it to begin implementing improvements to make it easier for players to access and enjoy the competition structure. With the support of ATP Gold Badge Umpire, Fergus Murphy, we have trained over 60 Courts Supervisors and Tournament Directors. New additions to Tournament Software and League Planner along with increased support from Tennis Ireland will continue to help improve open events for players and importantly our volunteer organisers.

The new 2020 Competitions Calendar has for the third year increased the number of competitions for Junior, Senior and Veterans Players.  2020 will see over 230 national and international events played in Ireland at Junior, Senior, Veteran’s and Professional level.  Also, for the first time two of our National Veterans Championships will likely be run as ITF Senior Events thus allowing our Veteran (Seniors) players to earn international ranking points at home.

2020 will also see the launch of a Veteran’s Ranking system and the redevelopment of the Junior System to compliment the Senior Ranking system which was launched in 2019.

Tennis Ireland Competitions Manager, James Cooney added, “Providing opportunities for appropriate and enjoyable competition plays a key role in our work to grow the sport in Ireland and the launch of the WTN will be an important step forward. It is central to retaining players of all ages and abilities in tennis, as well as supporting players on the Performance Pathway to develop and progress. The investment and improvements we have made in the last 18 months will continue during 2020. We aim to provide our players, parents, coaches, volunteers and officials with better competitive structures that are more relevant, accessible, welcoming and enjoyable for all.”


You can find more information on the ITF World Tennis Number HERE, and look out for more details on the Tennis Ireland website in the new year.