Loading... Please wait...

TENNIS TIPS - Towpath

Revamping the USTA rating system

Posted by

With the busy summer USTA season officially ending and fall season now in full swing, many players are in the process of getting their ratings set. Whether you’re a brand new player doing this for the first time or you’re returning from a long hiatus, in order to play on the USTA tennis leagues, a rating is needed. Unfortunately, anyone that’s had to endure this test has encountered first hand just how frustrating and sometimes inaccurate it can be.Revamping the USTA rating system

One of the biggest problems with the USTA rating system is their lack of detailed questions. The test begins with several yes or no fill-ins trying to categorize you anywhere from a world class player to a total beginner. The problems occur when you get deeper into these questions. For instance, back when I had to rate for the very first time, I had just committed to playing division II tennis. Long story short I got rated a 5.0. Now granted, I was a decent high school player, but no state champion deserving of a 5.0 rating. Not to mention I had just graduated high school and had never played USTA adult league tennis before.

So why did they rate me as so? Was it solely because I was committing to play in college? The real question is, can the USTA really make a good evaluation of the type of player I am based on that one answer? No. There are many tennis players out there on college teams that couldn’t even compete with the average high school player!

Another example is the classic story of a returning tennis player trying to get back into the USTA leagues. Take a former 5.0 college player who hasn’t touched a racquet in 20 years, has had two knee replacements, and isn’t nearly in as good of shape as she used to be. Should this player still be rated a 5.0? According to the rating system, if that was her last published rating, then yes. Even though the test doesn’t ask her when the last time she played was, or the injuries sustained (injury questions happen during the appeal process).

Now obviously the USTA can’t come and watch everyone play who needs a rating (they tried it for years with people raters). So what’s the solution here? More detailed questions with a little more leeway. The yes or no questionnaire is fine and does cover a lot. A text box discussing dates and severity of injuries sustained or time off from playing would make a significant difference. Also, rather than a computer making an immediate decision, it would help if the USTA could review answers prior to giving out set ratings. This might not work for brand new players but it would be a good system for someone returning from a long break from the game. That way, they don’t even have to worry about going through the appeal process.

It’s safe to say that the USTA doesn’t have the time or the man power to force groups of people to monitor their rating system-but they need to. They would save so much time having to sift through appeals if they would review the tests to begin with. Even just adding a few more text boxes so players can explain their history with the game would make a huge difference. 

View Comments


5 Tips for Playing College Tennis

So you just graduated from high school and you’re getting ready to head off to college. You’ve signed your letter of intent to play tennis and now your focus is all on your training. You feel prepared, but are a little unsure of what to expect. College tennis is a whole new environment, and it [...]

Read More »


Tennis Tip: When to approach the net in singles

One strategy for singles play that is crucial to success is when to come into the net. As a general rule of thumb, you always want to attempt to get to the net as soon as possible to attack your opponent. Being able to combine a strong baseline game with solid net play is not [...]

Read More »


Do’s and don’ts of parental involvement in tennis

Parents can be the most supportive and influential people in our lives. They raise us, care for us, and teach us everything they know. Not only are they crucial in teaching us right from wrong, but they’re probably the ones endorsing their child’s tennis game--mind, body and soul. Whether or not they’re players themselves or [...]

Read More »


Dealing with favoritism on a team

Being a part of any team is great. Making friends with your teammates and sharing countless memories of hard fought matches is something truly unforgettable. However, good memories aside, not everything on your team can be picture perfect all the time. In many cases, whether its high school, college, or a USTA team, favoritism is [...]

Read More »


How to communicate with your doubles partner the RIGHT way

In honor of our 3.0 40 & Over Men's USTA team competing at Nationals this month, we wanted to tie in how vital communication is in doubles and how to create a winning method. Communication with your doubles partner is by far one of the most critical components of succeeding together as a team. Whether [...]

Read More »


Quick Fixes for Tennis Strokes

We all know the feeling. We’re shanking our forehand long, hitting serves into the net, and it feels like nothing we do is working. We start questioning our game that we’ve worked so hard on and begin to doubt ourselves. However, even though it may not seem like it, everyone has those days where everything [...]

Read More »




Sign up to our newsletter

Recent Updates