Tennis ratings are numbers given to players that represent their level of skill.
The USTA uses the basic tennis rating system (NTRP), which has existed for a long time. However, other tennis rating systems, such as UTR or WTN, have evolved to create a consistent worldwide set of ratings for players of all skills. So how are you supposed to track them all and figure out which one you belong in?
The chart below provides some guidance on how the current rating systems correlate. In addition, below is a more detailed explanation of the NTRP/USTA, the UTR, and the international rating system, also called WTN (former ITN). Skip ahead to your preferred topic if you like:
National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP)
The National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP) was designed in the 1970s by the United States Tennis Association (USTA), America’s regulatory organization for tennis. When tennis became popular in America in the 1970s, the USTA devised a vehicle for adults to compete in the sport: the USTA League Tennis program. The NTRP rating system was created in collaboration to broaden the definition of various playing levels beyond mere beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
It was then used for competitive tennis (League play and Tournament play) to allow adults to compete against similarly skilled opponents. While grouping players by age may appear to be a logical fit, it may not be the optimal method because players mature and progress at various rates.
This is when ratings come in handy. A rating is a measure for gauging a person’s present playing ability and can be used to track their growth as they improve their games. A correct rating should allow players to participate in a level-based competition, ensuring a satisfying experience.
An NTRP Rating, which ranges from 1.5 (beginning) to 7.0 (touring pro), is a numerical indicator of tennis ability that corresponds to a set of general characteristics that break down the skills and abilities of each level in 0.5 increments. After only a few matches, these ratings help determine a player’s NTRP skill level and do not fluctuate significantly.
Rather, they gradually rise or decrease over time to reflect consistent player skill level as proven by play results. The NTRP system employs a series of ratings to describe the standards of the players, which are evaluated at the end of each season. Players can estimate their own rating at first, but if they choose too low a score in the expectation of winning a lot of matches, the USTA will nullify their results retroactively.
Determine Your NTRP Rating
Begin with 1.5. Read through all the categories carefully before deciding which best describes your current skill level. Make sure you qualify on all points from all previous levels and those in the level you select.
When rating yourself, imagine playing against a player of the same gender and skill level.
1.5 This player has little experience and is still focused on getting the ball into play.
2.0 The on-court experience will benefit this athlete. This player has obvious stroke weaknesses but is comfortable in singles and doubles.
2.5 Even though court coverage is poor, this player learns to read where the ball is going. Can hold a short and slow-pace rally with players of similar playing level.
3.0 This tennis player is fairly consistent when hitting medium-paced shots. Still, he is not comfortable with all strokes and lacks execution when attempting directional control, depth, or power. As a result, one-up, one-back is the most common doubles formation.
3.5 This player has achieved improved stroke dependability has improved with directional control on moderate shots, but he lacks depth and variety. This tennis player has more aggressive net play, has improved court coverage, and works on teamwork in doubles.
4.0 This player’s strokes are consistent, with directional control and depth on both the forehand and backhand sides on moderate shots and the ability to use lobs, overheads, approach shots, and volleys with some success. When serving, this player occasionally forces errors. Rallies may be lost as a result of impatience. In doubles, there is apparent teamwork.
4.5 This player is learning to control the tempo and has begun to grasp the utilization of power and spins. He has good footwork, can control shot depth, and is learning to vary his game plan based on his opposing player. This player can hit first serves with power and accuracy and place second serves consistently. However, on difficult shots, this player tends to overhit. Therefore, in doubles play, aggressive net play is expected.
5.0 This player has good shot anticipation and frequently has an outstanding shot or attribute around which a game can be built. This player can regularly hit winners or force errors off short balls, put away volleys, execute lobs, drop shots, half volleys, and overhead smashes. Most second serves have good depth and spin.
5.5 This player has gained power and/or consistency as a major weapon. In a competitive situation, this player can switch strategies and styles of play. In stressful situations, he hits dependable shots.
from 6.0 to 7.0
The 6.0 player has typically received extensive training for national tournament competition at the junior and collegiate levels and a sectional and/or national ranking. As a result, the 7.0-level player is a world-class player.
Junior NTRP ratings are separated into tiers ranging from 2.0 to 7.0. For junior players, the rating scale is in tenths, beginning with 2.0 and increasing to 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, and so on, until you reach 7.0, the highest rating.
Ratings are generated after a kid plays four matches against another rated player. They are then updated and recalculated every time they play a match over a rolling 18-month period, with more importance given to recent match play. The more a person plays, the more accurate his or her ranking becomes.
Most notably, players can self-rate for organizers of more informal events. When grouping players, individuals with rating differences of up to .5 are generally deemed “compatible.” The outcome becomes more predictable at a .5 difference in ratings, with the higher-rated player winning more frequently.
Click here for more info on the official USTA website.
Universal Tennis Rating (UTR)
The Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) is the gold standard for all tennis players worldwide, indicating their current ability level based on actual performance. The only tennis rating system globally is results-based, with all players evaluated on the same 16-point range regardless of age, gender, or region.
Professionals, collegiate, juniors, and recreational players use UTR in the tennis community. In addition, it is the only tried-and-true rating system that lets you track your progress in real-time.
Click here for more info on the official UTR website!
World Tennis Rating (ITF)
WTN = World Tennis Number (former ITN = International Tennis Number). This system, developed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) in 2001, allows players to be rated from WTN 1 to WTN 40.
WTN 1 represents a high-level player (with an ATP / WTA ranking or a similar playing standard). In contrast, WTN 10 represents a player just beginning to compete (can serve and return) on a full court using a regular ITF-authorized ball.
Click here for more info on the official ITF website!
Why use NTRP Ratings?
Via the NTRP rating system, players experience better competition, on-court compatibility, personal challenge, and enjoyment. NTRP is an ideal system for player placement in group lessons, leagues, tournaments, and other programs.
What Is the Difference Between a Rating and A Ranking?
A player’s rating is a number given to them and represents their degree of skill. A rating can only be obtained by competing in tournaments and shows the relative position of strength based on other players on the rankings list.
When and How Does a Player Get a Self Rating?
Before enrolling in a USTA League program, a player who does not have a computer rating must self-rate. Visit tennislink.usta.com and choose USTA League from the navigation menu to rate yourself. Select “self-rate” from the menu under “Find NTRP Rating Info.”
How Does Utr Compare to USTA?
Because it is a computer-generated score, the National Tennis Rating Program of the USTA is comparable to UTR. Its calculation criteria, however, are vastly different. Your year-end rating, your opponent’s rating, and the margin of victory or loss are used to determine your current NTRP rating.
Christoph Friedrich is a German tennis player and coach currently residing in Oakland, California. He began his tennis journey at the age of eight and has since dedicated his life to the sport. After working as a tennis coach and hitting partner in New York City for eight years, Christoph decided to share his knowledge and experience with tennis players around the world by creating the My Tennis Expert blog. His goal is to make tennis education accessible to everyone and help players select the best equipment for their game, from racquets and strings to shoes and overgrips. Christoph's extensive research and expertise in tennis technology make him a valuable resource for players of all levels.