World Table Tennis (WTT) has announced that a new youth series will start in 2021, replacing the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Junior Circuit.
The new competition, the WTT Youth Series, will be broken into two tiers – the WTT Youth Contenders and the WTT Youth Star Contenders – with this structure aligning with the senior equivalent, the WTT Series.
Younger players who excel in their age group will be able to compete against slightly older opponents, with age categories of under-11, under-13, under-15, under-17 and under-19 set.
The WTT Youth Contenders will open the playing field to all up-and-coming athletes, and it is expected that up to 30 events per year will be contested, allowing players to earn world ranking points.
The main categories - under-15 and under-19 - are required to be hosted by the Local Organising Committee, with it encouraged that all other age categories be accommodated too if possible.
From there, the WTT Youth Star Contenders will act as the next step on the international ladder with the best youth players being determined to compete in these competitions.
Qualifiers will come from the WTT Youth Contender events and will only include those at the top end of the world rankings.
Increased prize money will also be a feature for the young players with the WTT promising "high-level event production".
WTT will handle funding for prize money and production, taking away expenditure from the Local Organising Committees.
In singles categories, 32 boys and girls will compete and all matches will be contested using a best of five games format under the new regulations.
The WTT Series is scheduled to start in March, with the WTT Youth Series due to start in April 2021.
The bidding process for the WTT Youth Series events will remain open until November 15.
WTT was set-up by the ITTF in August 2019 and aims to modernise the commercial business activities of the sport.
It will lead to the introduction of a series of new events, with the promise of increased prize money and a more modern experience for fans, broadcasters, players and hosts.
The ITTF World Junior Championships will morph into the World Youth Championships next year.