FFT / Five things you (maybe) didn’t know about the French rankings

FFT / Five things you (maybe) didn’t know about the French rankings
FFT / Five things you (maybe) didn’t know about the French rankings

In this new episode of “Advice for competitors”, we invite you to discover the French rankings, the publication of which for over a century still arouses just as much passion.

It’s an institution and even more than that: a myth! Established after the First World War by the Lawn-Tennis Commission, the ancestor of the FFT, the French classification system has fascinated and agitated the microcosm of French tennis for more than a century, of which it constitutes a global specificity, even if it can also sometimes generate stress.

Formerly calculated by hand at the end of a veritable conclave which could last for days, the ranking became computerized in 1972, subsequently developing its famous algorithmic calculation system. Its last major reform was made in October 2022, with a now monthly ranking established on the basis of the results of a rolling year, and no longer the current sporting year.

But despite all its (r)evolutions, the French ranking has, basically, kept its fundamental principles. We explore them here with the help of Cassandre Thebaultmember of the FFT ranking service and… herself with an excellent ranking!

1) It follows directly from the points counting system

At the origins of the history of French tennis, there were numerous handicap tournaments involving players of very different values. From a “standard” value set at 0, the Lawn-Tennis Commission estimated the value of the other players and assigned them a handicap accordingly: in a set, a player ranked 1/6 started one game out of six with a advantage of 15-0 (or 0-15), the 2/6 two games out of six, etc.

Very extensive at the very beginning, the number of levels was then reduced… to widen again as the number of players increased. Thus, there were ranks in the past that we no longer find today (Max Decugis, the first French No. 1, was for example ranked -30/3 when the original ranking was published). And vice versa: new levels have been created over time, especially at the end of the chain, ranking 40 (in 2008) being the last of the two.

Today, as everyone knows, there are 25 ranking levels divided into four series.

Details from Cassandre Thebault: “For the first electronic ranking in 1972, there were ten levels (30, 15/4, 15/2, 15, 4/6, 2/6, 0, -3/6, -15 then 1st Series), and it there were 5,114 classified. All were referenced on paper. Moreover, these archives are still very useful to us: since the IT system was not able to record everything, it happens that competitors of a certain age tell us that their best ranking indicated on Ten’Up is not correct. Thanks to the archives, we can then verify and correct. »

2) It has just passed the 400,000 member mark

What a long way we have come since the publication of the first French ranking! At the time, there were around a thousand names, 20% of them women. Since then, the proportion of female players has increased slightly and the total number of ranked players has exploded: when the last ranking was published this Tuesday, May 7, 2024, there are precisely 406,848 classifiedof which 312,612 men And 94,236 women. The 400,000 member mark was passed last March.

The number of competitors, and therefore of those classified, is of course unlimited. They are hierarchical according to a pyramid structure, increasingly tighter as we get closer to the elite. From a certain level, the FFT reserves the possibility of determining a sort of “numerus clausus” guaranteeing perfect respect for this pyramidal shape.

Details from Cassandre Thebault : “The 4th and 3rd series represent the large mass of competitors and there are so many people that the pyramid is formed naturally. From the 2nd series onwards, this is less the case. We therefore ensure that there is never, for example, more -15 than 0, which would not be logical. This is why sometimes, with a few points, we can be harmonized at a certain level one year but not the next. »

3) Yes, you can go down more than one rung

One of the known principles of the French classification is the impossibility of going down more than one level per season. This is true most of the time…with exceptions.

There are two cases where you can be penalized by an additional level: if you present too large a number of WOs (forfeits) in your balance sheet (five WOs for 40 matches played, six between 41 and 60 matches, seven beyond); and, for the 2nd Series, if we present too negative a result (-100) in its famous equation VE-2I-5G, where (sorry for the non-mathematicians):

V = total number of Victories
E = number of defeats at equal level.
I: number of defeats at a lower level.
G: number of Great Defeats (two levels or more below).

This being cumulative, we can therefore go down two levels in the same season, and even three if we are in the 2nd series.

Details from Cassandre Thebault: “The win-loss ratio has been around for a long time but it has become much more sophisticated and precise with the VE-2I-5G. Apart from the extreme case mentioned, this ratio is in fact more of a reward for those who play well than a penalty for those who play less well: if it is high, it makes it possible to increase the number of victories taken. taken into account in the calculation of its ranking, therefore to have more points. »

4) It offers sometimes little-known bonuses

First of all, additional points are awarded for any match won in the French Championships or Individual League Championships, according to an evolving scale (15 points per victory in the 4th series, 20 points in the 3rd Series and 25 points in the 2nd Series). To this bonus are added bonuses for results – again subject to change – at the French Championships, as well as a bonus for the winners of the League Championships.

There are also bonuses granted for “absence of significant defeat” (no defeat in one’s ranking or lower ranking), subject to a minimum number of matches played (10 in the 2nd and 3rd series, five below).

Finally, since 2019, doubles victories are also counted for the calculation of the singles ranking, again and again according to an evolving scale.

Details from Cassandre Thebault: “There is also a bonus for the winners of the Committee Championships, but only 3rd and 4th series. In the 2nd series, the best are often directly qualified, and therefore absent. Outside of these Championships, titles in other tournaments are no longer enhanced as in the past.

The bonus linked to doubles was put in place in 2019 to promote discipline and to prevent some people from not playing it to the fullest in the case, for example, of a match “for butter” during a team meeting. »

5) There are many blocking or protection devices

One of the most important concerns players returning from pregnancywhose ranking, if they request it, will be blocked for 18 months from the end of the competition, regardless of the level.

Returns from injury or illness are subject to a reclassification facility: from 5 months of leave (including 12 consecutive weeks) during the last 12 months, it is now possible to return to your old level immediately after having obtained a certain number of victories in this old classification (or better obviously): twice for the 3rd and 4th series, three times for the 2nd series, five times for the numbered ones.

The FFT has also taken steps to detect the famous “submarines”, these players who, after a long period of inactivity, leave with a ranking much lower than their real level. In addition to a principle of attenuated descent in the third year of absence, it created the status of ND (“ Not determined “) for all competitors who have been ranked at least 30/2 and who have not played a single match for at least five seasons: if they wish to make their return, these NDs are obliged to make a request for reclassification.

Details from Cassandre Thebault: “Previously, absences due to injury or illness could also be subject to a classification block. But we changed because we believe that, when we had to stop for a certain period of time for medical reasons, it is logical to have lost a ranking when we resumed. In fact, all cases are very different and we try to take everything into account. This gives an extremely precise and complex system, but it is this precision of the ranking which allows us to be able to organize our competitions and our tennis schools so well. »

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