By Erin Bruehl
‘There’s an app for that.’
That’s a phrase you here a lot these days, as technology advances to bring more and more things into the palms of your hands. In an ever-busier world, the ever-expanding variety of “apps” are designed to help make life a little bit easier and more convenient.
In January of this year, USTA members were treated to an app that made their tennis lives easier, as the USTA League iPhone app launched, providing players access to everything they need to make their league play more fun and more convenient, including NTRP ratings, match schedules, team statistics, standings and more, without having to use a computer. (You can download the league iPhone app at itunes.apple.com.)
Then, in February, organizing your tennis life became even more convenient with the launch of a single sign-on through a new USTA account on TennisLink, the USTA membership site or USTA.com. The single sign-on provides access to all of your USTA leagues, tournament, Jr. TeamTennis and flex leagues information via My Tennis page on Tennislink as well as your USTA Membership data. There is no more logging in multiple times in multiple places to find all your different information. This is one-stop shopping for all your personal information.
Now you can log into My Tennis page with your USTA account number or you can create a new account if you are a USTA member. Under “Leagues” on My Tennis page, players can join a league in their area, view their upcoming matches, find past results, view standings and find NTRP ratings—including the ability to appeal their rating—among the page’s many great features. The Leagues homepage also has a new user interface and, coming soon, your tournaments information on Tennislink will be easier to navigate as well.
The new Leagues user interface has been a huge hit so far with users.
"The new access has a number of steps in the right direction,” said one user. “The consolidated search field is a nice feature. Having the links to upcoming local tournaments is good too. The new format is nice, an improvement to be sure. Another good thing is the option to show email and phone number to teammates."
And the new technological perks for members are only going to keep coming and getting better over the next few months, making the game of tennis more accessible for USTA members and easier to play than ever.
“We are working to leverage technological perks to improve our players’ tennis experience,” says USTA Chief Information Officer Larry Bonfante. “Just about everything—from having your schedule of play and match results at your fingertips to being able to see all of the play opportunities in your area is now possible through the novel ways we have incorporated technology into the daily tennis experience for our players and members.”
“Our members help us keep tennis growing, so we are committed to making their every experience in the sport as easy and enjoyable as possible,” says Barrie Markowitz, USTA Managing Director, Membership. “We’re taking out the hassles and making things more convenient. We’re utilizing the latest advances in technology so they can focus on just having fun.”
This spring, the iPhone app, which has had more than 26,000 downloads since its launch, will be expanding to become USTA Mobile and include tournament information in addition to its current league offerings. Players will have access to their match schedules, draws and match scores, be able to view tournament home pages as well as have access to team standings and find directions to their matches while on the go.
The ratings for the USTA League app so far have been very positive, with players ecstatic about how much easier it is for them to access and update their information.
“This really puts League info right at my fingertips,” one reviewer wrote on iTunes. “Will be very cool to update my scores live as we play our matches. Thanks USTA.”
Added another: “After our first match of the season, my teammates and I were sitting at lunch trying to think who we play next week. One bright girl at the table said ‘There should be an app for that!’ I quickly went on the app store and did a search and wahlah…it’s awesome!!!! Love it…makes my life as captain so much easier.”
This summer, players will also find non-sanctioned USTA tournaments listed in TennisLink and they will also be available under schedules on USTA Mobile. Both people who are USTA Members and people who have never played USTA tournaments will then benefit from the app. Tournament directors will also be able to manage their info on their tournaments online through TennisLink.
And, happily, life is also getting easier for extremely busy captains this spring. Through leagues on TennisLink, they will be able to schedule practices and create match lineups online. Players will be able to enter their availability on TennisLink for captains to access and process so they can create lineups, eliminating the need for lots of phone calls and e-mails to team members to find out when everyone can play.
Whatever your interest or involvement in tennis, you should know that the USTA is staying on top of advances in technology so that it’s easier and more convenient for you to stay on top of your game. If you’re into tennis—there’s an app for that!