Understanding tennis ratings
While tennis rankings are based on age, nationality, gender and competition performance, tennis ratings are based solely on an athlete’s experience level and understanding of the sport. As athletes develop important tennis skills, such as strokes, control of the court and forcing errors, their tennis ratings will increase. This system was created to better match athletes based on their playing ability.
The Universal Tennis Rating
As the official rating system for college tennis in the US, Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) is an indexing system that rates a player’s tennis skills based on a single 16-point scale. This rating system ranks athletes based on their playing ability with no consideration given to other factors, such as age, gender, nationality and location. This is the rating system most used by college tennis players and junior tournament players worldwide, though not all countries have adopted the system.
Athletes use the National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP) to gauge their playing ability and measure their progress as they improve. This system uses a scale of 1.0 (beginner) through 7.0 in 0.1 increments to rate athletes based on general characteristics and skills that define their playing ability. An athlete’s rating is determined by their performance in USTA-sanctioned junior tournaments, USTA Junior Team Tennis, men’s and women’s Opens, USTA Pro Circuit events and International Tennis Federation (ITF) events held in the US.
Tennis rating vs tennis ranking
Tennis rankings are used to compare athletes of the same gender in a specific age group to one another based on their tournament performance, while tennis ratings assign a number to an athlete that represents their playing ability. College coaches refer to both tennis rates and rankings when evaluating recruits during the recruiting process.
How do tennis rankings work?
Tennis rankings are determined by an athlete’s tournament performance. Depending on the size, each tournament has a certain number of points associated with it. The number of points that an athlete receives is determined by how far they advance during the tournament. At the end of each year, athletes can reference their tennis ranking to see how well they performed in tournaments, compared to other athletes.
It’s important to note that rankings fluctuate from week to week because the system is based on weekly tournament participation. With that said, tennis rankings don’t always identify the best players. For example, Serena Williams was ranked No. 26 one week, despite being one of the best women’s tennis players in the world. When an athlete performs unexpectedly well in a tournament, they can make a major jump in ranks as a result. Similarly, an athlete that performs poorly in a tournament can drastically fall in rank. While college coaches do reference tennis rankings, it’s important for recruits to remember that there are other ways to impress coaches.
What rankings are important in the recruiting process?
Tennisrecruiting.net is what most college coaches reference when they begin to build their list of potential recruits. At the Division 1 level, coaches focus primarily on athletes ranked in the top 50, especially those that are labeled Blue Chip. To cross-check these rankings, coaches will review the recruit’s UTR rating. Recruits not ranked by Tennisrecruiting.net are unlikely to make a college coach’s list of potential recruits.
When it comes to international recruiting, athletes must be ranked the top in their country in order to catch the attention of college coaches. International recruiting varies from country to country and depends on the level of competition and if the country uses the UTR rating system.
Women’s tennis recruiting guidelines by NCAA Division level
|Tier 1||Tier 2||Tier 3||Tier 4|
|Top NCAA D1||Lower level NCAA D1; top level NCAA D2||Lower level NCAA D2||NCAA D3 or NAIA|
|National Rank||Top 50–100||Top 200||Top 500||n/a|