Today tennis is one of Olympic sports played by all ages and at all levels of society in many countries throughout the world. It is the International Tennis Federation (ITF) who governs the body of tennis and whose responsibility is to determine the Rules of Tennis and to support various tennis development programs and maintain Olympic solidarity.
ITF Development Programs are funded by the Grand Slam Development Fund and ITF.
During the last 19 years over US $53 million has been put in tennis development programs in more than 140 countries in the whole world. Only during 2004, US $3.47 million has been spent on the Development Programs with US$ 2.2 million invested by the ITF.
Having the objective to raise the rank of tennis globally and increase the number of countries involved in the mainstream of international tennis, the ITF development programs include a wide range of plans in less developed countries. Initiatives include financial support for professional and junior tournaments, ITF touring teams, financial support for tennis facilities, travel opportunities for gifted players, coaches' education and training centers, tennis equipment supply and much more.
Special accent has been made on junior tennis where local tournament circuits have been devised. During 2004, 25 regional circuits have been maintained by the development programs, that has made it possible for the most talented players in the 14&under age, 18, and 16 groups throughout the world to compete against each other.
Players who do well at regional circuits are commonly invited to join international touring team. The touring team program has a goal to smooth the progress of the transition of gifted players through regional competitions onto the ranks of professionals. In 2004, 17 touring teams involved 151 players from 71 countries worldwide. Former members of ITF Touring Team include: Nicolas Massu (Chile), Gustavo Kuerten (Brazil), Nicolas Lapentti (Ecuador), Angelique Widjaja (Indonesia), Leander Paes (India), Eleni Daniilidou (Greece), Paradorn Srichaphan (Thailand), Younes El Aynaoui (Morocco), Cara Black (Zimbabwe), Florin Mergea (Romania) and Jarkko Nieminen (Finland).
ITF development programs also award travel grants to gifted players from developing countries for a particular program of tournaments. During 2004, 57 talented players of 27 nations have been awarded travel grants and thus had an opportunity to take part in events that were held outside their country. Additionally, ITF awards prize-money grants to assist developing countries with the hosting of professional tennis events and to spread competitive opportunities all over the world.
First-rate coachers' education is one of the priorities for the development programs. Every year, more than 60 countries from all around the world take part in ITF coachers' education program by arranging the course for national tennis coachers. The main goal of ITF coachers' education program is to assist National Associations with creating their own coachers' education programs and to develop the better level of tennis coaching all through the world. To achieve this goal, the ITF has abundant resources which can be accessed by coaches and Nation Associations.
The ITF program of equipment distribution provides educational materials and tennis equipment to approved national development programs. During 2004, more than 20,000 rackets, 200,000 balls plus tennis strings and nets have been distributed to over 100 national associations all through the world.