The USTA recommends that kids who want to start playing tennis tournaments should start with Level 3 events. Level 3 tournaments meet once for approximately 2.5 hours and play a round-robin format with no-ad scoring and no changing sides. The goal of Level 3 events is for kids just starting to play competitively to have fun competing. By starting with Level 3 events, you can get a feel for whether competitive play is right for you. There are no ranking points accumulated from Level 3 play, and there is no ranking system for L3 competition.
The next step up in sanctioned tournament play is Level 2, or regional level. There are two types of Level 2 events; L2R (regional) and L2O (open). L2O events are generally a bit more competitive than L2R events, because L2R tournaments are open to all players in the Section, whereas L2R tournaments are only open to players in their Region or residence. So, if you live in NYC you are part of the Metro Region and you may compete in any L2R in the five boroughs. If you try to sign up for an L2R in NJ, you will not be accepted, since you are not a NJ resident. Level 2 tournaments allow you to earn ranking points with each victory. They are single elimination events, so once you lose, you go home and practice for your next tournament. Points accrued in L2 tournaments count towards your regional and sectional rankings.
The highest levels of open competition are Level 1B, Level 1, and Level 1+ tournaments. These tournament are single elimination events, with points awarded for each win going towards your sectional ranking. The higher the Level, the more points are earned each round. If you do well in these L1 events, you can qualify for entry into National events.
You need to be a USTA junior member to sign up for and to compete in USTA tournaments. All USTA tournaments can be searched by clicking on the link below: http://tennislink.usta.com/tournaments/Schedule/Search.aspx
There are a few pop-ups that you will need to fill out in order to find tournaments near you and the details about them. Where it says NATIONAL/SECTION/DISTRICT: NYC is in the USTA Eastern Section and in the Metro Region. KEYWORD helps if you are searching for SPORTIME clubs. DIVISION is self explanatory. TYPE OF TOURNAMENT I would leave blank, so that you can see all of the different types and levels of tournaments, i.e. L1 thru L3. SURFACES; should be left blank.
Have fun becoming a tournament player and, of course, don’t hesitate to ask me, or other JMTA coaches, for advice or assistance with you tournament schedule.