The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has announced a new initiative to certify coaches, in a bid to boost the number of qualified trainers around the world.
It will be the first time that the ITF will be certifying coaches itself, as this is usually carried out by national tennis associations with support from the world governing body.
All 210 member associations will continue to work with the ITF, with the new coaching certification allowing programmes to exist in nations where they have not already been established.
All coaches who successfully complete ITF certification courses will be permitted to refer to themselves as "ITF certified coaches" of a certain level, as of now.
This is in addition to any certification achieved with a national association.
The ITF development strategy for 2017-2020, which looked to increase the number of qualified coaches as well as providing more opportunities for women, was the basis for this decision.
An ITF Global Tennis Report from 2019 identified that there are around 164,000 active tennis coaches, but more than 90 per cent are based in only 30 nations and 65 per cent of them are in Europe alone.
As of August 2020, almost 40 nations have achieved ITF recognition for their coach education systems.
Along with the certification programme, the ITF Academy platform was launched last year and contains more than 1,200 content items in its library, and more than 80 online courses.
Most of this content is free to use due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Having access to high-quality tennis coaching has been proven to be a highly significant factor in both increasing participation in tennis and in successfully training high-performance players," said ITF executive director for tennis development, Luca Santilli.
"We have been pleased to see coaches around the world use our resources on the ITF Academy this year, with a 413 per cent increase in the number of registered users on the platform.
"We are delighted to launch the ITF coach certification programme, the next step in our coaching strategy, which we are confident will improve coaching standards across the world."