The ITF has created a new rankings system for the World Tennis Tour, to help junior players progress ©ITF

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has published a new world ranking system for junior players looking to break into the elite ranks.

The new ITF World Tennis Rankings have come into force for both men and women and apply to players on the new ITF World Tennis Tour, which started this year.

The Tour is the new umbrella name for former Pro Circuit and Junior Circuit tournaments, and was created in agreement with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women's Tennis Association (WTA) to serve as a pathway for junior players into the elite game.

In 2019 alone, the Tour is expected to feature more than 1,600 tournaments across 140 countries, split across three categories, called 25s +, 15s and juniors.

The changes were announced in November after a three-year review of professional and junior tennis found that too many players try to compete on the professional circuit and it is difficult for juniors to come through to the professional ranks.

It is hoped the introduction of the rankings will ensure "a consistent approach for entries" into all events, with players using their ATP or WTA ranking, followed by the ITF ranking.

Fernanda Brito currently tops the women's rankings having won 40 successive ITF singles matches in 2018 ©ITF/Twitter
Fernanda Brito currently tops the women's rankings having won 40 successive ITF singles matches in 2018 ©ITF/Twitter

ITF world tennis ranking points will be awarded at 15s tournaments for women and both 15s and 25s + tournaments for men, as well as ATP Challenger qualifying events.

The rankings are based on a player's best 14 singles results and best 14 doubles results in the tournaments over the previous 12 months.

To help the best players progress faster, there will be reserved places in higher-level tournaments for highly-ranked players in the ITF junior world rankings and ITF world tennis tanking.

That includes reserved places for ITF-ranked players in the main draw and qualifying at ATP Challenger tournaments.

Spain's Perez Sanz currently holds the top spot in the men's rankings, having won six ITF Futures titles last year.

The 24-year-old also won 28 of 29 matches played across October and November.

Chile's Fernanda Brito is top of the women's rankings having won nine ITF women's titles last year.

Between June and September the 26-year-old won 40 successive main draw singles matches, a record for women in ITF tournaments.