Under the auspices of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), over 280 tournaments among veterans are held annually, in which more than 20,000 players take part. Tournaments are held on all continents in more than 60 countries around the world. In the ITF, veteran tennis is directly handled by the Veteran Committee, which is structurally part of the Development Division. The development department is responsible for the development director of tennis Dave Miley (Dave Miley)).
Tournaments are held at different ages, starting at 35 years old. The maximum difference between players who compete with each other is 5 years, i.e. age categories (groups) of players are formed with the following gradation: “35” (35-39); “40” (40-44); “45” (45-49); “50” (50-54); “55” (55-59); “60” (60-64); “65” (65-69); “70” (70-74); “75” (75-79); “80” (80-84); “85” (85 and more) (sometimes the age category is marked with a “plus” sign, for example, “45+”). Currently, due to the high popularity of the tennis veteran movement, tournament organizers, as a rule, do not hold competitions in all age categories (a large number of courts are needed). Several categories are selected for which competitions are held in singles and doubles, or only in one of the categories. ITF women tour is also the organizer of the world championships, both team and personal.
Team tournaments are ranked in three categories: “C1”, “C2” and “C3”. The highest category “C1” has the World Cup. In addition, there are three categories: “B1”, “B2”, “B3” for regional championships closed. For example, the European Championship among veterans has a category of “B1”. Individual tournaments have the following rankings:
- World Championship – the highest category “A”;
- Other tournaments are categories from “1” (highest) to “5”.
The higher the category, the more rating points assigned to players. Rating points are added for the last 52 weeks and are announced every week. To participate in tournaments, it is necessary to issue an IPIN (International Player Identification Number) and submit an application within the time specified in the position of the tournament.
For the first time the team championship was held in 1958 in the same 45-year category and the winners were the Italian men’s team. Now it’s held in 20 categories among men and women. In 1993, due to a large increase in the number of participants, ITF decided to divide it into two separate tournaments: for younger veterans “Seniors” (35-55 years) and senior veterans “Super-Seniors” (60-75 years for women and 60-80 years for men). Since 2016, the age gradation has changed: the younger veterans of the “Young-Seniors” (35-45 years); “Seniors” (50-60 years old); “Super-Seniors” (65-80 years old).
The system of competition is combined: at the initial stage, teams are divided into groups in which games take place in a circular system and at the final stage – the winners of the groups determine the winner according to the Olympic system. The team may include 2-4 players. Teams between themselves hold two single matches and one doubles (as in the Davis Cup or in the Federation Cup). Now the World Team Championship is held annually, and the “Junior Seniors” spend their championship in the spring, and “Seniors” and “Super Seniors” – in the autumn. Each championship lasts one week and takes place in different countries.
Initially, there were only 4 age categories. Now there are 21 of them. In all categories, over 1000 people take part about 450 of them were former “pros”. The personal championship as well as the team championship is divided into two tournaments: “Seniors” and “Super-Seniors”. For the “Super Seniors” of men there are age categories from 60 to 85 years, and for women from 60 to 80 years. Players over 85 years old in men and 80 years old in women play in the last age category (for example, a woman at the age of 89 will play in the 80+ category).
Tournaments for all ranks are held according to the Olympic system (with the 3rd place draw) and, moreover, a consolation tournament is held for the losers in the first round, in which rating points are also awarded. Personal championship starts immediately after the team at the same tennis base. Each of them takes place within one week. Championships for “Seniors” are held in spring, and for “Super-seniors” – in autumn.
The ITF is the governing tennis body responsible for developing and approving the rules of the game of tennis. To accomplish this task, the ITF formed the Tennis Rules Committee, which has tennis in its field of view as a game and its rules and which advises the ITF Board on making either permanent change to the Rules of the Game or temporary ones for a specified trial period. The ITF Board, in turn, offers proposals to the ITF Annual General Meeting, which is the highest authority in matters of change to the Rules of the game of tennis. Any changes will take effect on January 1 of the year, which was preceded by the date of the decision taken by the General Meeting, unless it decides otherwise.
The need to create a tennis international governing body became apparent at the beginning of the 10s of the last century, when it began to spread rapidly around the world, which required the unification of rules, the organization of international competitions, coordination and strengthening of ties between national federations (associations).
The initiator of this project was an American lawyer who lived in Switzerland, Charles Duane Williams, who in 1911 suggested that the two presidents of the tennis federations of Switzerland and France, Charles Bard and Henri Vallet, create an international organization of tennis. Stories it is known that this idea was first discussed on July 13-14, 1912 by the presidents of the federations of England and France in the resort town of Folkestone (England) during the Davis Cup semifinal between the teams of these countries. On their initiative, an organizational group of representatives from several European national federations gathered in Paris on October 26, 1912, which prepared a draft international agreement and sent an invitation to a constituent assembly, the General Conference, in 20 countries. 4 months later, on Saturday, March 1, 1913, in Paris, at the headquarters of the Union of French Sports Athletic Societies (USFSA), located at 34 Provence, the General Conference of the founders of the new organization began at 14 o’clock 12 countries: Australia (together with New Zealand, which received independent membership in 1923), Austria, England, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Russia, France, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa. There was no representative of Spain, but her federation sent a letter approving the creation of the organization. By decision of the US Lawn Tennis Association (USNLTA), her representative attended the conference as an observer, without the right to vote. The reason for this, first of all, was that the Americans objected to the Wimbledon tournament being considered a world championship on grass courts. They also had concerns that with the creation of an international organization, the Davis Cup would lose its prestige (the United States joined in 1923, but insisted that the term “World Cup” be removed from the Constitution).
On September 23, 2015 in Santiago at the Annual General Conference (280 delegates were present), the American President David Haggerty was elected as the new president out of four candidates. Thirteen members of the Board of Directors were elected, among them two from the post-Soviet space: Russian Alexei Selivanenko and Kazakh Bulat Utemuratov. It was proposed to increase the number of members of the Board of Directors to 15 at the expense of former players (men and women) – in order to better understand the needs of players around the world. But this decision is subject to ratification at the next conference in Zagreb. Since 2016, in the Davis Cup, the 5th decisive set has been held like the first four with a tiebreaker.
On August 3, 2017 in Ho Chi Minh City, at the Annual General Conference it was decided to transfer to the Board of Directors of the ITF the powers of the conference regarding the adjustment of rules and regulations of the Davis Cup and the Federation Cup. Delegates from 116 countries (a record number) did not support the proposal of David Haggerty to transfer the Davis Cup matches to the 3-net format (63.54% of delegates voted with the necessary – at least two-thirds). True, the “cosmetic” changes in this competition were made: 1) the current finalists in the first round of the next draw are guaranteed the right to play at home; 2) in order to reduce the costs of national federations for matches, the requirements for playing and training courts were reduced, and 3) the number of official pre-match events involving players who would be able to concentrate as much as possible on the training process was reduced.