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If you plan on discussing tennis matches with anyone in the world, you are going to need to know about the ATP. What is the ATP tennis meaning, you ask? Short of the Association of Tennis Professionals, the ATP has a lot of power when it comes to setting up tournaments for professional male players. Now, let’s discuss where the ATP comes from and how it is different from the WTA.
ATP Tennis Meaning & History
What does ATP mean in the world of tennis? It is a significant governing body. The Association of Tennis Professionals was founded in September 1972 by Cliff Drysdale, Jack Kramer, and Donald Dell. The goal was to protect the interests of male tennis players. In 1990, the organization hosted the first ATP Tour, which is a worldwide tennis competition for boys and men. The name of the tour has been changed throughout the years, but these days it is still considered the ATP World Tour or just ATP Tour.
The global headquarters are located in London, UK. The American branch is found in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. The European branch is in Monaco. ATP International is based in Sydney, Australia, and covers players from Africa, Australasia, and Asia.
Thus, when someone is talking about the ATP, they may be discussing the governing body or the tour that the organization hosts.
ATP vs WTA: Similarities and Differences
Another worldwide tennis organization is the WTA, short for Women’s Tennis Association. Like the ATP, the WTA holds events for girls and women. There are many similarities between these two organizations, as well as some differences.
ATP vs WTA: Tournaments
As mentioned earlier, the meaning of ATP is often used to describe a tour. Both the ATP and WTA have the same number of tournaments within a tour. The ATP Tour is made up of ATP Cup, ATP Masters 250, ATP Masters 500, and ATP Masters 1000. A second-tier consists of the senior-only ATP Champions Tour and the ATP Challenger Tour.
Similarly, the WTA hosts the WTA 250, WTA 500, and WTA 1000. At the end of the year, there are also WTA Finals and four Grand Slam tournaments.
How do these tours work? Take the ATP or WTA 250, as an example. Within that tour, there are 40 tournaments and 250 ranking points to accrue. You will learn more about rankings in a moment.
Neither the ATP nor the WTA oversee Grand Slams, the Davis Cup, or the entry-level ITF tennis competitions. Those are governed by the International Tennis Federation, or ITF.
Check out this video explaining all the tournaments in detail:
WTA vs ATP: Racing to the Finals
How do the players who come out on top of their tours end the season? With Finals. For the ATP, that would be the Nitto Finals. The top eight male tennis players—singles and doubles—with the most ATP ranking points will qualify for the Nitto Finals. This typically happens after the Rolex Paris Masters tournament.
For the WTA, female players go through 53 tournaments across the globe, as well as four Grand Slams to qualify. At the end of the tournaments, the top eight can head to the WTA Finals.
ATP Ranking vs WTA Rankings
Now, let’s talk a little about ATP rankings. There is a bit of history behind this. Tennis as you know it has been around since the 1800s, but there was no ranking system for over a century after its creation. In the 1950s, British newspapers began writing their own rankings for top contenders of that time period. Many readers respected these lists, especially those written by tennis journalist Lance Tingay.
When the Association of Tennis Professionals was organized in 1972, it did not take them long to put formal tennis rankings into place. On August 23, 1973, the first men’s singles ranked tournament was held. Ilie Nastase from Romania ended up being the first No. 1 in ATP rankings. About 3 years later, the first ranked doubles match was held.
The WTA set their rankings up similarly. In 1973, Billie Jean King founded the Women’s Tennis Association and adopted the format of the ATP. As of right now, the ATP and WTA ranking systems only have a couple of differences. Both are for men-only or women-only singles and doubles, not mixed doubles.
For instance, both have a 52-week time frame, but the WTA puts a cap on how many tournaments a tennis player can attend and be ranked for. Both the ATP and WTA Finals are bonus tournaments, but only the ATP rankings are used for qualification. The WTA sets up an entirely different scoreboard for that.
Grand Slam Sets: ATP vs WTA
Playing ATP tennis means aiming for a Grand Slam, for the professionals, anyway. The Grand Slams include the US Open, French Open, Australian Open, and Wimbledon. The ATP has a maximum of five steps to decide a tennis match, while the WTA offers three. Unlike a women’s match, men have to win three sets out of five to decide who moves on to the next match in the Grand Slam.
ATP and WTA Tennis Balls
Interestingly, if someone is talking about the meaning of ATP tennis, they could also be referring to the tennis balls! Men and women hit the same sized tennis ball, but the make of the ball is different. Of course, the tennis balls used also depend on the tournament, court, and sponsors. In the ATP, a heavy-duty felt ball is required. For WTA tours and tournaments, tennis players use a regular-duty felt ball. What is the difference? Heavy-duty felt will slow down the ball, whereas regular-duty flies a little faster.
Now You’re an ATP Master
Having come here looking for the ATP tennis meaning, you should have gotten your answer. The ATP is a governing body in tennis that also holds the ATP Tour, consisting of multiple tournaments and rankings. There are a couple of differences between the ATP and WTA, such as rankings and the tennis balls used. Now, you’re ready for some tennis trivia.