Tournaments are often organized by gender and number of players. Common tournament configurations include men's singles, women's singles, and doubles, where two players play on each side of the net. Tournaments may be organized for specific age groups, with upper age limits for youth and lower age limits for senior players. Example of this include the Orange Bowl and Les Petits As junior tournaments. There are also tournaments for players with disabilities, such as wheelchair tennis and deaf tennis.[73] In the four Grand Slam tournaments, the singles draws are limited to 128 players for each gender.

Most large tournaments seed players, but players may also be matched by their skill level. According to how well a person does in sanctioned play, a player is given a rating that is adjusted periodically to maintain competitive matches. For example, the United States Tennis Association administers the National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP), which rates players between 1.0 and 7.0 in 1/2 point increments. Average club players under this system would rate 3.0–4.5 while world class players would be 7.0 on this scale.

Grand Slam tournaments

The four Grand Slam tournaments are considered to be the most prestigious tennis events in the world. They are held annually and comprise, in chronological order, the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. Apart from the Olympic Games, Davis Cup, Fed Cup, and Hopman Cup, they are the only tournaments regulated by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The ITF's national associations, Tennis Australia (Australian Open), the Fédération Française de Tennis (French Open), the Lawn Tennis Association (Wimbledon) and the United States Tennis Association (US Open) are delegated the responsibility to organize these events.

Aside from the historical significance of these events, they also carry larger prize funds than any other tour event and are worth double the number of ranking points to the champion than in the next echelon of tournaments, the Masters 1000 (men) and Premier events (women). Another distinguishing feature is the number of players in the singles draw. There are 128, more than any other professional tennis tournament. This draw is composed of 32 seeded players, other players ranked in the world's top 100, qualifiers, and players who receive invitations through wild cards. Grand Slam men's tournaments have best-of-five set matches while the women play best-of-three. Grand Slam tournaments are among the small number of events that last two weeks, the others being the Indian Wells Masters and the Miami Masters.

Currently, the Grand Slam tournaments are the only tour events that have mixed doubles contests. Grand Slam tournaments are held in conjunction with wheelchair tennis tournaments and junior tennis competitions. These tournaments also contain their own idiosyncrasies. For example, players at Wimbledon are required to wear predominantly white. Andre Agassi chose to skip Wimbledon from 1988 through 1990 citing the event's traditionalism, particularly its "predominantly white" dress code. Wimbledon has its own particular methods for disseminating tickets, often leading tennis fans to follow complex procedures to obtain tickets.

Men's tournament structure

Masters 1000

The ATP World Tour Masters 1000 is a group of nine tournaments that form the second-highest echelon in men's tennis. Each event is held annually, and a win at one of these events is worth 1000 ranking points. When the ATP, led by Hamilton Jordan, began running the men's tour in 1990, the directors designated the top nine tournaments, outside of the Grand Slam events, as "Super 9" events.[79] In 2000 this became the Tennis Masters Series and in 2004 the ATP Masters Series. In November at the end of the tennis year, the world's top eight players compete in the ATP World Tour Finals, a tournament with a rotating locale. It is currently held inLondon, England.[80]

In August 2007 the ATP announced major changes to the tour that were introduced in 2009. The Masters Series was renamed to the "Masters 1000", the addition of the number 1000 referring to the number of ranking points earned by the winner of each tournament. Contrary to earlier plans, the number of tournaments was not reduced from nine to eight and the Monte Carlo Masters remains part of the series although, unlike the other events, it does not have a mandatory player commitment. The Hamburg Masters has been downgraded to a 500-point event. The Madrid Masters moved to May and onto clay courts, and a new tournament in Shanghai took over Madrid's former indoor October slot. As of 2011 six of the nine "1000" level tournaments are combined ATP and WTA events.[81]

250 and 500 Series

The third and fourth tier of men's tennis tournaments are formed by the ATP World Tour 500 series, consisting of 11 tournaments, and the ATP World Tour 250 series with 40 tournaments.[82] Like the ATP World Tour Masters 1000, these events offer various amounts of prize money and the numbers refer to the amount of ranking points earned by the winner of a tournament.[75] The Dubai Tennis Championships offer the largest financial incentive to players, with total prize money ofUS$2,313,975 (2012).[83] These series have various draws of 28, 32, 48 and 56 for singles and 16 and 24 for doubles. It is mandatory for leading players to enter at least four 500 events, including at least one after the US Open.

Challenger Tour and Futures tournaments

The Challenger Tour for men is the lowest level of tournament administered by the ATP. It is composed of about 150 events and, as a result, features a more diverse range of countries hosting events.[84] The majority of players use the Challenger Series at the beginning of their career to work their way up the rankings. Andre Agassi, between winning Grand Slam tournaments, plummeted to World No. 141 and used Challenger Series events for match experience and to progress back up the rankings. The Challenger Series offers prize funds of between US$25,000 and US$150,000.

Below the Challenger Tour are the Futures tournaments, events on the ITF Men's Circuit. These tournaments also contribute towards a player's ATP rankings points. Futures Tournaments offer prize funds of between US$10,000 and US$15,000. Approximately 530 Futures Tournaments are played each year.

Women's tournament structure

Premier events

Premier events for women form the most prestigious level of events on the Women's Tennis Association Tour after the Grand Slam tournaments. These events offer the largest rewards in terms of points and prize money. Within the Premier category are Premier Mandatory, Premier 5, and Premier tournaments. The Premier events were introduced in 2009 replacing the previous Tier I and II tournament categories. Currently four tournaments are Premier Mandatory, five tournaments are Premier 5, and twelve tournaments are Premier. The first tiering system in women's tennis was introduced in 1988. At the time of its creation, only two tournaments, the Lipton International Players Championships in Florida and the German Open in Berlin, comprised the Tier I category.

International events

International tournaments are the second main tier of the WTA tour and consist of 31 tournaments, with a prize money for every event at U.S.$220,000, except for the year-ending Common Wealth Bank Tournament of Champions in Bali, which has prize money of U.S.$600,000.