The following guidelines have been compiled to serve as an easy point of reference for all parties concerned with either the running of; or participation at tennis tournaments. The guidelines covers Local Tournaments.


1. Tournament Officials/Organisers:

1.1 Officials:

  • Familiarise yourself with the various rules and regulations, duties and procedures as well as code of conduct
  • Be familiar with recent rule changes
  • Prior to an event refresh yourself on the various rules that may differ from tournament category/type
  • Punctuality is very important along with other aspects of the Code of Conduct for Officials
  • Be visible during matches and do not gather in groups far away from the courts
  • Be responsible for the running of the matches on your allocated courts
  • Deal with the various incidents as quickly as possible and report any code of conduct issues to the Referee. If uncertain about an issue, refer this to the Referee prior to making a final decision
  • Off Court Officials (Court Monitors) to be responsible for matches on their allocated courts. Prior to commencement of each match (where possible) conduct the coin toss for the players. In this way, officials are identifying themselves to the players and aspects relating to dress code or rules can be clarified upfront
  • Players have the right to appeal the decision of an Off Court Official in terms of a ruling given which relates to the interpretation and application of the rules of tennis or procedures. IN this case the Referee can be called/contacted and the Referee’s decision will be final

1.2 Tournament Organisers:


  • Ensure that tournament information is correct as per the printable calendar and tournament as created on the website
  • In the event of any special functions, announcements, tournament t-shirts etc. please ensure the TSA office is aware of this to add to your tournament information
  • Engage with TSA office on ways to promote event using the various tournament administration functionality and social media platforms
  • Establish a working tournament committee
  • Liaise with local umpires committee to establish number of officials to be appointed and appointment of Referee
  • May not act as both Tournament Referee and Tournament Organiser/Director
  • Meet with Referee to discuss various matters pertaining to the logistics of the tournament
  • Ensure that a safety officer portfolio is assigned to a member of the tournament committee 
  • Establish working relationship with local Police station. Inform the Police of the event
  • Appoint Tournament Doctor/Clinic and Physiotherapist to be on call
  • Calculate the required number of tennis balls. Take into consideration that u10 and u12 play with the Green Dot Tennis Ball. Obtain the necessary quotes from the tennis ball suppliers, as per TSA requirements before finalising and ordering the tennis balls
  • Liaise with TSA media consultants and social media partner to establish working relationship and possibilities to maximise media exposure for event
  • Ensure that all venues are loaded to the Sporty HQ system
  • Directional signage at each venue, clearly identifying various areas i.e. Tournament Desk/Information, Toilets etc. No all visitors are familiar with the venues


  • Ensure each venue has sufficient singles sticks
  • Check the quality of the nets, centre bands and centre hooks
  • Spare centre bands and hooks
  • Courts to be cleaned prior to the event
  • Sufficient court drying equipment to be available
  • Chair for players to sit on when on-court (4 Chairs – Doubles/Mixed)
  • Tuck shop facilities and catering arrangements
  • First aid kit
  • Contact list with all necessary telephone numbers (tournament and emergency)
  • PA System for the calling of matches
  • Work station for desk organisers
  • Area to be identified for notice board, preferably positioned away from the work station
  • Toilet facilities
  • Parking area
  • Ensure public liability coverage is in place for each venue
  • Right of Admission signs to be visible at venue
  • Sponsor banners to be erected and checked
  • Map with various venues to be at each venue
  • Main venue where the finals will be played to contain all draws, order of plays and other general information

Post Tournament:

  • Submit reports to TSA
  • Sponsorship report (if required)
  • Reconciliation of tournament budget
  • Deal with any queries or complaints that may be received

1.3 Desk Organiser:

  • Informed of which venue will be assigned to work at
  • Names of officials and co-desk worker
  • Tournament pack containing draw sheets, order of play, various announcements, contact information of players and sign in documents
  • Working copies to be kept at the desk, general copies to be posted on the player notice board
  • As a backup measure confirm emergency contact details for the player(s) at the specific venue in order for Whatsapp groups to be created for emergency purposes/announcements 
  • Update the draw sheets and order of play on the notice board at regular intervals. Indicate which matches are currently on which court so that players etc. can establish if the schedule is on time or running late
  • Responsible for calling of matches. When a match is called, note the time that the match was called, so that if necessary the 15 minutes can be determined if an opponent is late. Note, traffic is not an acceptable reason. This rule MUST be consistently enforced
  • Record the result after the match and establish if the losing player wishes to continue with the Play-Offs
  • Be familiar with the various formats and scoring methods (main draw, qualifying, play-offs and doubles)
  • Ensure that the doubles sign-in documents are posted and visible for players to be able to sign-in; or check doubles entry
  • Follow the basic schedule that has been drafted for the day. Display the following days schedule once released by the Referee
  • If giving times to players, be sure to write down all information to avoid confrontational situations at a later stage
  • When determining rest periods, there is no harm in allowing a player more time than is indicated in the rule book, if timing permits. The times indicated in the rule book are minimum times. Where a schedule is not under pressure, allow a little more rest time. Consideration should be given to match durations and number of matches already played on a day
  • Determine the number of new and used tennis balls for the following day based on the order of play. Where necessary provide 4 used balls for play-off matches as opposed to 3 to try and assist with the wear of the balls
  • Ensure all documents (paper and online) are regularly updated
  • Be familiar with the various duties and responsibilities of tournament staff and officials
  • Don’t make general rule interpretations or any procedural decisions on behalf of the Referee, consult first
  • When players report for their matches, if they are wearing incorrect tennis attire, inform them and ask them to report back, correctly attired, before going to court


The following points are vitally important:

  • If you are not sure on how to answer a specific question or how to handle an incident, dot guess, ask. There is no harm in asking for assistance. It is easier to resolve a problem, rather than having to resolve an incorrectly applied rule/procedure. This applies to all aspects of the tournament. IT programme, officials, rules and regulations etc. The worst answers to be given are “we don’t know” or “No, it cant be done” or “it’s the system”. If you are unsure, first check before giving a random reply in the hope the question will go away. Remember, we are all one when it comes to tournament organisation and need to work and support one another
  • If you are aware that you have made an error, and are confronted by a player/parent/coach, or, you make a decision and then realise it was incorrect, the first step is admitting the error. There is no harm is admitting to making a mistake. In fact, the sooner, this is done, the quicker we can work on trying to resolve the error. In most cases, officials feel that it is embarrassing to admit an error or feel that even if an error has been made they are the final on-site authority and nothing can be done to change this fact. This is partially correct, but, when manged correctly, often reduces the amount of arguing and abuse. Admit to the error and then determine which rule will have to be used to correct the error. In all cases, the parent, player or coach merely want the correct action to be taken and rules to be applied consistently. Consistency is key in all areas 

2. Players, parents & Coaches:

2.1 Entries:

  • Where possible, players should be responsible for dealing with their own entries into tournaments. However, whoever is dealing with the actual player entry needs to take responsibility for the full entry procedure
  • When entering a tournament, players indicate that they are aware of the TSA Tournament Rules and Regulations as well as Code of Conduct by ticking a check box, before being able to proceed. By ticking the tick box, regardless of having read the various documents, the player is ultimately accountable and responsible
  • Be aware of entry deadlines. Late entries are not accepted
  • Before finalising travel arrangements for tournaments, ensure that the entry has been completed
  • Players wishing to change age groups, must do so prior to the entry deadline. Any changes after the entry deadline must be requested in writing, prior to the withdrawal deadline as the administrator will have to manually handle these queries
  • If you are withdrawing from a tournament, take note of the withdrawal deadline
  • Payment of entry fees to be made at the time of entering the tournament
  • Refunds will be made via the system automatically if withdrawing before the withdrawal deadline
  • It is the responsibility of the participant/person handling the entry to ensure the entry has been correctly processed and is reflecting
  • Try to avoid entering on the last day, especially if over a weekend
  • Check the entry list prior to entry deadline in order to rectify any possible errors
  • Ensure that your TSA membership as well as Provincial and District fees (for Provinces using Sporty HQ) is in order and active before trying to enter a tournament. These fees can be paid when entering your first tournament after the renewal period
  • TSA office is not bale to deal with queries over weekends or outside of office hours
  • When logging in check you profile and ensure any changes are amended i.e. new cell number, email address etc.
  • Players entering a tournament need to be aware that they are committing for the full duration of the tournament. Tournament organisers are not obliged to try and give any preferential treatment to scheduling of matches. Players need to bear in mind that where consideration is required, this can have a roll on affect to other players in the draw. Tournaments that fall over various times where a player may have other commitments (for whatever reason) should not enter the tournament
  • Players are to adhere to the required dress code

Draws and Schedule:

  • It is the responsibility of the player to ascertain the time of their match(es) along with which day and at which venue these will take place
  • The draws and order of play are available on the TSA website
  • Draws are generally available three (3) days prior to the commencement of the tournament
  • The order of play and venue information will be available 48 hours prior to the commencement of the tournament on the TSA website
  • While we appreciate the fact that players want to establish playing times as early as possible, the 48 hour rule is in order to allow the Organiser/Referee to amend draws for late withdrawals etc. according to the rules as in many cases it is a question of whether the Order of Play has been released or not
  • It is the player’s responsibility to identify which venue they are playing at and the times for the following day. Where possible, even if the basic schedule is displayed at the venue, check the website later that evening for final confirmation 
  • In some cases play-off matches and main draw matches from a specific round are moved to different venues. Players should read the order of play carefully to ensure that the venue is correctly identified
  • Two rankings are used to run a tournament. The acceptance ranking is the ranking used to determine the acceptances and to compile various sections within an age group. This ranking is used at the time of the entries closing (Monday ranking of the particular week in which rankings close). The Men’s or Women’s Combined Ranking is used for acceptance purposes.

The seeding ranking is the ranking used to determine the seeds for the tournament. The latest available ranking will be used to determine the seeding, but will not be used to re- establish acceptances or sections. The individual age group rankings will be used for seeding purposes. Similarly, Lucky Losers or On Site Alternates will also be selected based on the seeding ranking.

2.3 Doubles:

  • Familiarise yourself with the doubles and mixed doubles (where applicable) entry procedure
  • Players can enter online for doubles. Once both players have entered, the entry will reflect
  • Players who do not have a doubles partner at the time of the online entries closing, will have until the on-site sign-in deadline to enter at their age group venue with a partner
  • Players can also change partners until the on-site sign-in deadline
  • Where partners are changed, it is the responsibility of the player that is changing partners to notify the existing partner of the change
  • Doubles sign-in sheets to be used correctly. Where players choose to write incorrect information or try to be amusing, this could cause incorrect entry
  • Players should enter/sign-in themselves
  • Organisers are not responsible for pairing of players where players may have entered without a partner or “partner required”. Players can enquire if they can contact such players, but no partnering will be done by the tournament
  • In cases where a partner withdraws, the team withdraws. If such a withdrawal occurs after the draw has been done, but prior to the commencement of the match, the player may find a replacement provided that such replacement is from the same group, has not played and lost in the doubles already, and that the new combination would not be seeded
  • Doubles partners are required to be from the same age group that they have entered into for the singles event. Partners need not be from the same category i.e. Platinum, Gold etc.
  • Acceptances will be based on the Combined rankings and seeding on the combined doubles or mixed doubles ranking of the players

2.4 Reporting and the Desk Organiser:

  • The player him/herself must report to the desk organiser when arriving at the venue. Do not have someone report on your behalf
  • If you leave the venue for some reason, first check with the desk organiser in order to establish how soon you match may be called
  • Check on the players notice board to establish your opponent and next match. Don’t continually ask the desk organiser for updates. In the case where the results are not updated, then you can enquire
  • Prior to leaving for the day, establish that you are finished for the day, don’t assume
  • If you have played and lost your match, inform the organiser whether you will be continuing in the Play-Off matches. This assists with the scheduling of matches and ensures that unnecessary scheduling does not take place 
  • Players to report for their matches in the correct match attire. After the match, both players to confirm the score and return the match tennis balls

2.5 Wild Cards:

  • The awarding of Wild Cards often sparks debate and often leads to various interpretations of what a Wild Card is. The general definition of a Wild Card is “players included in the draw at the sole discretion of the Tournament Committee or Sanctioning National Association”. The following points have been highlighted to assist with the Wild Card aspect and how they are used: 
  • Wild Cards need not have entered a tournament. If a player is awarded a Wild Card he/she is not a Late entry. Wild Card is another acceptance method used for a player to obtain direct entry into a tournament
  • Wild Cards may be seeded. Not a common occurrence, but can happen
  • Players wishing to be considered for a Wild Card need to submit a written request to TSA by the entry deadline of the particular tournament for consideration. TSA will then discuss the applications with the Tournament Organiser for final decision. TSA generally awards the Wild Cards to players to compete in the qualifying section of a particular age group i.e. Platinum Qualifying, Gold Qualifying etc. Very rarely are Wild Cards awarded Direct Acceptance into the Main Draw of a group. If applying for a Wild Card, players need to motivate why they believe they should be considered for a Wild Card
  • There are various criteria that can be used to award Wild Cards, which makes the allocation of such positions very difficult at the best of times. Generally, but not specifically the case, criteria could be, players returning from an injury, player having represented South Africa and not been able to participate locally
  • Players often believe that they are entitled to a Wild Card. The above definition clarifies this point and in most cases, players receiving the Wild Cards should be appreciative of the opportunity awarded to them

2.6 On-Site Alternates:

On-Site Alternates are players who failed to enter the tournament by the entry deadline and by virtue of not having a high enough ranking that would affect the seeding, take the risk by appearing at their respective venue in person and signing in as an On-Site Alternate.

Should a vacancy become available in the first round, then the identified On-Site Alternate may take the vacant position. In the event of more than one player signing in as an Alternate, the players will be prioritised in accordance to their rankings as used at the time of determining the seeding for the tournament. In cases where players may not have a ranking, they will be randomly drawn together to determine a priority order.

On-Site Alternates are only applicable to the Qualifying event (TSA Series) where an event has a Qualifying and Main Draw. The only time that an On-Site Alternate can gain access directly to the Main Draw of an event, is where there is no Qualifying section and the event comprises of a Main Draw only.

On-Site Alternates can only be accepted if the no1. Player from another section i.e. Gold section to Platinum section has not indicated their desire to be considered for any vacant positions. A Bye does not constitute a reason to accept an On-Site Alternate and cannot be pulled back to create a vacancy.

2.7 Lucky Losers:

Lucky Losers are players who gain access to the Main Draw, by having competed and lost in the Qualifying event. Where an event comprises of Qualifying and Main Draw, only players who have lost in the Qualifying event may be considered to replace any last minute vacancies that may occur in the Main Draw.

Lucky Losers are categorised in priority of the round in which the lose. Final round losers will always have first priority. In the event of none of the players having lost in the final round signing in, or additional Lucky Losers being required, then players that have lost in the first round will be able to sign-in and receive second priority.

In order to determine the correct order of merit for the final and first round losers, the following will be applied (as per the ITF Junior and Pro Circuit event Procedures): Players that have lost in the final round, that have a National ranking will be grouped together and drawn by lot to determine their priority order. The highest ranked player is no longer guaranteed to be the 1st priority and so on in terms of ranking order. Players that have lost in the final rounds, that do not have a National ranking will be grouped together (if any) and drawn by lot to determine their remaining priority, to follow that of the players with ranking.

The same procedure will be applied for determining the order of merit 1st round losers, if required.

2.8 Retaining Amateur Status / US College Regulations (NCAA):

Players wishing to apply for US College Bursaries or wishing to go and play College tennis in the USA must ensure that they remain Amateur. The NCAA (US College System Governing Body) regulations do not permit a player classified as Professional to participate in their tennis programmes.

The general principal in determining a player’s status is by checking to see if a player has accepted any form of prize money during their career, while claiming to be an Amateur. Players are therefore advised that no matter what type of tournament (local Open event or ITF Futures, ATP Challenger etc) if they wish to be considered for College then may not accept Prize Money. The required Amateur status forms can be found on the TSA website under Rules and Regulations which must be completed after each event that have participated in. 

2.9 Doping:

National Associations have been asked by Government to encourage and engage in communications with Drug Free Sport, South Africa.

TSA currently does not have a medical commission. Therefore, if Drug Free Sport wish to conduct random testing at events, they may do so.

The basic principal is that all tests will be random, which means that the testing officials will report to the tournament venue, identify themselves to the Organiser and Referee. Request for the draw sheets and order of play and determine which gender and age group needs to be tested.

In most cases the entire round (quarter finals, semi finals, etc.) will be tested, regardless of winning or losing the match. Target testing is only done when a Federation has a medical commission in place and request Drug Free Sport to conduct tests on specific players or rounds.

The general rules of engagement for conducting test are as follows:

The testing officer/chaperone will identify themselves to the player(s) after the completion of their match and meet the players at the exit of the court. Players will be permitted to conduct other official business prior to conducting the test, but will be chaperoned at all times until the test has been completed. In the case of minors (junior participants), the player will be entitled to have a guardian present at all times and to assist with the declarations etc. that are taken prior to the test been conducted.

2.10 General:

  • Incidents are going to flare up during and after matches. However, these incidents need to be communicated in a calm manner in order for all concerned to be able to attend to the matter
  • Aggressive behaviour, abusive language and general abuse will not be tolerated and may result in the parent or coach (if they are the guilty party) being asked to leave the premises or may even result in the player they are representing being defaulted from the tournament
  • The player is ultimately held responsible for any action or statements made by any of his/her representatives, relatives or supporters
  • It also needs to be known that errors are going to be made. Errors are made at the highest level of tournaments. The key is to learn and try to reduce the glaring errors from occurring
  • When dealing with any one at the tournament do so in a respectful manner. This often helps the matter and enables decisions etc. to be reached a lot easier and quicker
  • If a player feels that they need an official, they have the right to call for one during a match. In some cases the player may disagree with the officials interpretation and may call for the Referee. However, the Referee’s decision will be final in this case.
  • In some cases the Referee can consult with TSA, but these are generally unusual situations or very serious code violations that can be dealt with after a match. A Referee cannot consult with TSA on a decision that requires finalisation while a match is in progress. Therefore the decision of the Referee, no matter if correct or incorrect. Will serve as the final decision. It is not “cool” to backchat or try to threaten officials, or anyone else for that matter.
  • In some cases players get away with this during matches, however, when a player gets caught, they are ultimately responsible for having made the decision to try and get away with such comment/chirp and will have to accept the consequences.
  • Respect your opponent(s) and try to set examples rather than be known as a player amongst your peers for the wrong reasons.
  • Interference from outside the court is not permitted. Parents and coaches may not enter into long discussions with players. Even if no coaching is being communicated, if lengthy discussions evolve, the player faces the chance of receiving a code violation.
  • At any stage if you need to leave the court, notify an official first. If there are no officials around ask someone to find an official, but in all cases try to not leave the court before having spoken to an official. We accept that in some cases there are extreme conditions that need to be considered. It is also good etiquette to inform your opponent when leaving the court.
  • Where tournaments publish information pertaining to a tentative plan for the event/week, it needs to be understood this is a basic plan to try and help players to get an idea of the general plan for the event. However, these plans may change and are weather dependant.
  • Familiarise yourself with the rules and procedures. It has happened previously where players think they know the rules or are advise otherwise by other influencing sources and end up being wrong.