Don’t Sweat It, the NTRP Rating Is Just a Number

December 08, 2021

Whether you love it or hate it, the time of year when USTA League NTRP ratings are published can send many tennis players into a frenzy of emotion. The highs, the lows, the anticipation it can all be quite a lot. But we’re here to let you know that no matter what this year’s ratings held for you, you’re still part of the incredible community of tennis in the Mid-Atlantic and you have a special place on the courts in the region. And now is a great time to start planning your 2022 season and keep challenging yourself and your game (and maybe even find new ways to put your rating to the test). 


For some fresh perspective on the annual ratings outcomes, USTA Mid-Atlantic Section Marketing Manager and avid USTA League player Deirdre Hughes wanted to shared a little bit into her day on Dec 1, 2021 and explore how other players take the news.


“This year, I was on pins and needles the night before ratings were published hoping that I would get bumped up. However, my rating did not change, and I had to remember that my rating is only part of who I am as a tennis player.”


When asked how she keeps grounded during ratings day, she shared this:

“Here’s how I like to think about it. The NTRP is a guide to help a player estimate their skill level relative to other players. I can look up an opponent's rating and estimate how well I’ll likely play against them. In a match situation, it prevents an intermediate player like me, from being caught off guard by an advanced player. However, I keep in mind that the NTRP rating has limitations. The rating cannot consider how well I strike the ball, how many times a game went to duce in a match, court conditions, or if a player is playing with an impediment like the flu (yes, I played with the flu once). I keep the rating in perspective.” 


Hughes caught up with her friend Walter Winston, a fellow league player from Upper Marlboro, Md to find out his take on the ratings.


Winston, a former basketball player, picked up tennis when his then 8-year-old daughter began taking lessons. He wanted an opportunity to play with her as well as an activity to fill the void after basketball. Three years later, tennis is keeping Winston active and satisfying his need to compete. As a league player, this year alone, Winston played on nine different teams and at least two of those teams reached Sectional Championships. With all of Winston’s league experience, he keeps the NTRP rating in context. This is what he had to say:


What do you think is the benefit of the NTRP rating system? 


Initially when I first started playing USTA, the rating system gave me a comfort level of knowing I would be competing against individuals who were like me in skill level.


Do you have a plan if your rating changes?


My plan wouldn’t really change much. I don’t focus on or pay too much attention to my rating. I just really love the sport, love to compete and appreciate the fellowship that takes place both on and off the court. 


What’s your advice to players who might be upset about an unexpected outcome with their rating?


Do not get too caught up on the ratings. However, if it’s really a point of frustration, I would advise playing up one level. In 2021, I challenged myself to play at the 3.5 level even though I was a 3.0 player. I wanted to see how I would fare against higher rated players. Also, playing up gave me an opportunity to see the areas of my game that needed improvement to compete at that level. Hopefully if a player that wants to bump up does the same, it will have a positive impact on their rating next year.


No matter if your rating went up, down or stayed the same, have fun playing this upcoming 2022 season. There are plenty of opportunities to get out on the court, plus USTA Mid-Atlantic regularly updates the Adult League Calendar and our Tennis Connect Service which both can help you find a team and league. Finally, you can always captain a team at your current rating or above and control your league experience. Ultimately, the NTRP rating is just one tool to help you assess your game. Enjoying the competition and camaraderie that tennis offers is what’s important. 


For all the latest news in the Mid-Atlantic, make sure to visit our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Also, if you’re ready to get out and play, you can find a USTA League near you by viewing the local league calendar or by contacting us and we will help you find a team


USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. Learn about our impact in the Section and how USTA Mid-Atlantic creates community, character, and well-being.

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