We probably have an image that ATP is the independent body that governs international tennis. Maybe the image is because the ATP is everywhere, from player’s rankings to everything. But actually, it is the International Tennis Federation or ITF which is the governing body of Tennis. Let us know more about ITF through this article.
History of International Tennis Federation
On the 1st of March in 1913, in Paris, France there was a meeting of 12 national associations of tennis in which there was a decision taken to establish a governing body for tennis and it was named as the International Lawn Tennis Federation of ILTF. For the next decade the ILTF run the tennis and in 1924 it became the officially recognized organization with full authority to control the game of the lawn tennis. In 1977 the word ‘lawn’ was dropped from its name as tennis was no longer played on lawn tennis only and clay and hard courts were also the other two surfaces in the game of tennis was played.
Since the second World War the headquarter of the ITF has been shifted to London and there are total 206 national associations of various countries are the members of ITF. Francesco Ricci Bitti is the current president of the ITF and itftennis.com is the official website of the federation.
How ITF Functions?
The top three team tournaments in tennis are organized by ITF. They are the Davis Cup for men, the Fed Cup for women and the Hopman Cup for the mixed teams. The four grand slams of the year also have to be sanctioned by the ITF. It is true that the ATP and the WTA rules the tennis world, but the ITF is taking care of the development part of the tennis. Before reaching the level of full-fledged tennis the professional players always go through the various ITF circuits. ITF organizes professional tennis tournaments for such players where the prize money ranges between US$ 10, 000 to US$ 15, 000. ITF has both the Men’s and Women’s Circuits in which the professional tennis players take part. For such circuits the prize money is between US$ 10, 000 to US$ 100, 000.
It is almost certain that every professional tennis player today who is part of ATP or WTA has started his or her professional career by playing in different ITF circuits only. No matter how bigger name you see in tennis today, be it Ivan Lendle, Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic or Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graph, Martina Hingis, Williams Sisters or Maria Sharapova, they all have played ITF circuits before entering into the big ATP stage.