ITF VS USTA Rule Differences for Seniors

This is a summary only of the ITF vs. USTA rule differences for seniors. It is strongly recommended that you obtain a copy of the 2011 ITF Seniors Regulations from Theresa Bowen ( or download a copy from the website. 

  1. ITF rules apply primarily to main draw singles only.
  2. Seeding: Seeding must be strictly by the latest published ITF World Rankings (found at However, some players can be seeded (Exempt Players) (formerly called Wild Cards) if it is necessary and those players can be ranked or unranked. The criteria for seeding them would be based on an “All Factors” method (e.g., wins/losses, national ranking and other relevant factors). The tournament committee must be prepared to explain the seeding of Exempt seeds.  The number of seeding Exempt Players varies depending on draw size. (For draws of 1-32: 2; for 33-48: 3; for 49 and larger, 4).
  3. The Coman Tiebreak must be played (ITF calls it the “Change of Ends” Tiebreak) in all ITF Sanctioned senior tournaments. (Section I, #14)
  4. All main draw matches must be two out of three sets, except that for the men’s 85 and women’s 80s, the tournament has the option of playing a 10 point match TB; in the case of an unavoidable disruption, the Tournament Committee has the option of using an alternate method of scoring approved by the Rules of Tennis  (Section 1 #14)
  5. Number of Seeds: for 2011 the number of seeds shall always be an even number and shall not exceed the following: (Rule 30):

                        For a draw of 128:  32 seeds

                        For a draw of 64 or 48:  16 seeds

                        For a draw of 32 or 24:  8 seeds

                        For a draw of 16: 4 seeds

                        For a draw of 8: 2 seeds

            For draws in excess of 128, an additional two (2) seeds per eight (8) participating             players can be allocated.

  1. For singles draws that have fewer than eight players, a round robin format must be played in order for the players to receive ITF ranking points. If there are 6 or 7 players, two round robin groups may be formed. See the ITF ranking regulations for more details. As an alternative, two or more age categories can be combined so the minimum number of players is reached. (Section I, #16)
  2. If a player leaves a tournament early for injury, he/she must have a medical certificate from a tournament doctor. If he/she leaves for any other reason besides health, injury or bereavement before the completion date for the tournament he/she won’t get prize money or world ranking points. (This only applies to main draw singles). 
  3. Bye placement: There are two methods, one for tournaments not using a feed-in consolation draw and one for tournaments using a feed-in consolation draw; see Rule 30.
  4. Replacement of Seeds: There are two methods; one that occurs when the player withdraws by 4 pm the day before the start of play in that draw and one in which a player withdraws after that time.
  5. Foreign players from the same country should be drawn first into opposite sides of the draw and then into separate quarters.
  6. The differences between rest periods, penalties, and lateness are set forth in FAC; note especially that the rest periods are different and that a warning for a code violation is to be given before a point penalty is assessed. In addition, the penalty for arriving late to a match or to a court after splitting sets are different: any delay in a player returning to court will subject the player to Time Violations – this means warning, point, point, point etc at the appropriate time until the player returns. It does of course mean that an official would be required to be courtside to determine the timing and hence, the penalty.
  7. Tournaments should have someone with emergency medical training on site. The exact regulation has not yet been determined.
  8. The referee for Grade 1-5 tournaments must be a minimum of White Badge. If your referee is not certified as a White Badge or higher, please request a waiver of this requirement from Theresa Bowen at the USTA,
  9. The tournament must note that the players are subject to the ITF Senior Circuit Code of Conduct and the ITF rules regarding playing a match without an umpire (attached)
  10.  Coaching during the 10-minute breaks between sets is allowed.
  11. The rules relating to toilet breaks and change of attire can be found in the Appendix
  12. Checking a mark on clay: Under normal circumstances a player would be expected to show a mark on clay. If there is no chair umpire then a player could cross the net to look at a mark. There are some conditions when a mark may not always occur. If a referee were to be called on to court to make a decision then they would ask questions of the type of shot, direction, etc. and then take a common sense decision based on the facts. If no mark in this situation then the original call would stand.