Explanation of Different Metrics in Tennis

There are a number of criteria that tennis parents use who are trying to understand the college tennis recruiting process.  For the most part, men’s and women’s college coaches will research a player’s UTR, tennisrecruiting.net, and USTA rankings.  Each college coach has their own unique evaluation process and priorities.  There are other important factors, like meeting a minimum academic standard, good personality fit with the team, work ethic, etc.  The first thing a coach will look at is the high school player ratings and metrics for their tennis results. This post will focus on that part of the coach analysis.

Tennisrecruiting.net

Tennisrecruiting.net was the premiere metric prior to UTR, and is still an integral part of the coach’s analysis.  It ranks players either blue chip (top 25 nationally) or with stars (1-5, with 5 stars being the best).  Tennisrecruiting.net uses the grade level and gender to rank high school players in a way easy to understand by college coaches, who can refer to a recruit as a three star or four star, similar to the way high school football and basketball players are described.

Untied States Tennis Association

USTA (United States Tennis Association) rankings are also a prominent part of the process for many coaches. It places the players in a ranking order, according to the points they acquire from winning matches in USTA tournaments.  It is the opinion of this blogger that USTA rankings can frequently be skewed in favor of the kids who play the most events.  USTA rankings are the only metric of the three where a player gets a boost if the opponent withdraws from a match, even prior to walking on the court.

Universal Tennis Rating

UTR stands for Universal Tennis Rating (UTR).  It was developed in 2008 and has grown in popularity quickly due to its ability to rank players across age, gender, and even nationality.  With the advent of UTR, college coaches can use a metric to compare players across the world.  While there is no such thing as a perfect metric, UTR is the most accurate and detailed index of players’ tennis skill and past results.  Players are rated between 1-16.  For high school players interested to determine if they are qualified to play for certain colleges, comparing their UTR to the players on the team is a great place to start.  For example, a player with a UTR of 9 is an excellent high school player but would not be competitive at a top tier division 1 college (such as Florida or Virginia) where the players generally range from 13-15.  If you have never familiarized yourself with UTR, visit their web site.

UTR is the only one that considers the score of the match in determining the player ranking.  This is good because if a player loses a close match to another top player, UTR will give the player credit for being close.  Both tennisrecruiting.net and USTA rankings do not give any credit for a loss, no matter how close it is.  One of the unique aspects of UTR is that a player’s ranking can go up even when the opponent wins the match.  For example, if a UTR 6 plays a UTR 8 and loses 7-6 7-5, the UTR of the UTR 6 player will rise.

Conclusion

One big mistake I see is parents and kids who focus too much on the metrics at a young age.  While it is certainly important during the junior and senior years of high school to have ratings/rankings that are attractive to college coaches, it is not nearly as important in the earlier years.  Yes, tournaments are selecting players now based upon their USTA rankings and UTR (not tennisrecruiting.net, though), but the most important two things for parents and their tennis playing kids are to focus on improvement and enjoyment.  There are some kids who avoid valuable experience due to a fear of losing to a lower ranked player.  That impedes progress and damages development.  There are other kids who “burn out” from excessive stress about match results.  The kids who improve the most are the ones with a balanced outlook on the process of developing tennis skill over a long period of time.  Match results are a barometer but should not be considered paramount in importance.  Many times, the difference between winning and losing is minuscule, so defining a win as a success and a loss as a failure is short sighted.

Finally, a word of advice from a fellow with three collegiate players: enjoy the process!  The time spent with practice and traveling for competition is amazing bonding time, and will provide memories to last a lifetime.  Keep it fun, stay positive, and be proud of the way you handle adversity along the way.  Bouncing back from a less ideal result is one of the best life lessons anyone can learn, so remember all of the good that comes out of the long process toward improvement.

Interested in playing in some tournaments to boost your rating? Check out our blog page to see what is happening monthly at the club!

Reasons to Start your Child in Tennis

In today’s day and age, keeping kids active can be difficult. Between running around from work, to school, to home, extracurricular activities sometimes cannot fit in. Starting your child in tennis is a great way to get active for many reasons. Not only is it great exercise, but there are also many great life lessons learned in tennis. Check out these reasons why starting your child in tennis can have a great outcome on their life and future!

1. Hand-Eye Coordination 

Tennis helps develop hand-eye coordination at a very young age. When a child is learning to hit a tennis ball, they are constantly learning to judge the distance to the ball, and when to make contact.

2. Bone Strength and Flexibility

Starting tennis at a young age helps strengthen bone structure. It is proven that tennis can prevent osteoporosis later in life. Kids also learn about stretching before and after activities, and they are constantly stretching when they are maneuvering to the ball, which drastically improves flexibility.

3. Cardiovascular Strength

When you get a kid on the tennis court, they can spend an hour running around with high energy without even realizing it. With all of the running around, they are strengthening their heart while having fun.

4. Motor Skills

Playing tennis helps condition large muscle groups. From running around, to striking the ball, tennis is a full body activity. As their skills advance, fine motor skills are strengthened because of difficult shots like volleys, drop shots, and lobs.

5. Agility and Balance

During a single point, a player may change directions 5 times in a matter of 10 seconds! They have to learn how to run up to a ball, stop, strike the ball, then recover. With all of the stop-go movement, kids become more agile, and learn to balance their bodies.

6. Life Skills

Many life skills are learned while playing tennis. Like all sports, when learning tennis, you can run into points where it gets difficult or frustrating. Learning to overcome obstacles, and becoming better from it is an important skill to learn while young. Also, when playing against other kids, you will find other kids are just unfair. Learning to deal with unfairness at a young age prepares kids for the rest of their life. When they learn to handle unfairness, and act out of logic and reasoning instead of feelings, they learn to act well beyond their years. Tennis teaches mental toughness in general. When you are out on court, it is just you against your opponent. You have to learn how to face adversity, and rise against struggles on your own.

Tennis is a sport that can be played the rest of your life. There are many physical and mental advantages to playing tennis. Starting a kid in tennis early can be a great way to get them active, and a fun way to spend time together!

Interested in signing your child up for our Junior Clinic program? Check out our Youth Tennis Page!

An Outline of Scoring in Tennis

Usually when someone picks up tennis as a new hobby/sport, they get frustrated with the scoring, understandably so. There are so many different terms, and ways to score, that it seems impossible. In this post, I’ll try to break it down as simply as possible so you can get a basic understanding!

Firstly, lets talk about a match. The match is the whole entire competition. When you go out to play competitive tennis, you are going to play a match. In every match, there are sets. A set is compiled of games. Each game has multiple points in it. To win a set, you have to win 6 games, and you have to win by two games. The scoring in a game is a little more difficult because it is not scored as “1, 2, 3, 4, Game” Games are scored as “LOVE (0), 15, 30, 40, Game.” The server always announces their score first, and the serve always begins on the Deuce (right) side of the court. After the first point, it is either LOVE-15 (0-15), or 15- LOVE(15-0), depending on who won the point. The second point is played on the Ad (Left) side. This continues until the game is completed. If the score gets to 40-40, this is called Deuce. Either player has to win the next two points in a row to win the game. If the server wins the Deuce point, the score is announced AD IN. If the returner wins the Deuce point, the score is announced AD OUT. For example, if the sever wins the Deuce point, but loses the Ad point, the score goes back to Deuce. This can happen many times. Another thing to remember, players switch ends of the court every odd game (after the first game, then every two games). You have a 90 second break starting with the change of sides at the third game. This is also when you change the set score on your score cards.

After many games are played, you may find yourself at a set score of 6-5. At this point, even though you have gotten 6 games, you have not won the set because you have not won by two games. So you will either have to win one more game to make the set score 7-5, or the score will go to 6-6, and a set tie-breaker must be played. In a tie-breaker, the first server serves one point from the Deuce side. After that point, the opposite server serves the next two points starting on the Ad side, then Deuce This two-point serving pattern continues until someone wins the tie-breaker. The tie-breaker is scored in intervals of 1 (1, 2, 3… so on) until someone reaches 7 points (again by two). In USTA play, players switch ends after the first point, then after every four points (or the score will show every five points when both scores are added together). In all other competitive play other than USTA, players switch ends every 6 points.

A match is always best two sets out of three (unless you are a man playing in one of the grand slams). If you are playing USTA, the third set is replaced with a match tie-breaker. Don’t freak out! It is played exactly the same way as a set tie-breaker, only the score goes to 10 points (by two of course) because it is played in place of a set. When you are playing in tournaments, the director has the choice of whether you will play a full set, or a match tie-breaker.

If you feel like I have completely melted you brain at this point, do not feel bad, it is a lot of information. After reading this, it is good to grab a friend who knows how to play, go out, and walk through the scoring point by point. Sometimes it is easier to learn by actually playing the points out. I have also attached a great video that explains step by step how to score!

Tennis: Why Now? Why Me?

You don’t run in tennis.” “Do you even have to work?” “It is not even that hard!” “It is just so boring, I would never play!”

Tennis players all over hear these phrases more than you can imagine. The thing is, though, anyone who has ever tried to play knows how incredibly inaccurate this is. Tennis is one of those sports that you can pick up just for fun, and spend the rest of your life playing. Not only are there many health benefits, but there are also many fun/social aspects to the game.

Firstly, there are numerous health benefits that come with playing tennis. The best part is, once you get a basic understanding of the game and start playing, you are getting a workout in that is fun! A lot of the time you hear people say, including myself, they do not like just going out and running, or running on a treadmill. Sure, running outside is nice sometimes, but I personally just get bored. I feel like I can get more accomplished in an hour-and-a-half tennis drill, than I would going out for a run. Tennis is a great aerobic exercise, AKA cardio. A few benefits of aerobic exercise include improving cardiovascular health, lowering blood pressure, reducing chronic pain, weight loss, and so on. Along with those, tennis specifically helps with improving muscle tone and flexibility, and increasing reaction time. Another factor that goes into many people picking up tennis is that it is a non-impact sport. Tennis is generally easy on the body. Sure, you will hear about the pros having injuries, but generally tennis is pretty safe. Here at Wembley, we have a gentleman that is his 80’s still playing multiple days a week, and he is not the only one doing it! Even at the National Senior Games there is a 90+ age division! The longevity of this sport is truly incredible.

As if that is not enough to make you want to play, the social aspect will really seal the deal for you. I will start with an anecdote. When I was in eighth grade (2009), I became friends with one of the girls on my tennis team. Here we are, ten years later, and she is still my best friend. She is not the only one though. Throughout my life, I have met some of the best people playing tennis, especially in adult league tennis. Even in these past six months of working at Wembley, I have met the greatest tennis players, both on and off the court, I could ever hope to have in my life. Not only is it fun to play tennis with everyone here, but they have also accepted me into their lives outside of the club. That’s how everyone is here. We go out together, we swim together, we have cookouts together, everyone’s children hang out together, we do things together. Adult league tennis is so much fun as well. If you thought competitive sports end in high school, or even college, then you have not played adult league tennis, or USTA. Do not get me wrong, it is so fun, but when people want to win, they will go for it. We still have fun though. Everyone grabs a drink and a bite to eat after the matches. You get to know each other if you are new, and you get to know people from other teams. Even here at Wembley, we have friends from other clubs, most of which we have tried to recruit to come here. When you play USTA, and do drills with the tennis pros, you get to spend time with people, and get to know them. It really is a social game.

Tennis is so much more than smacking a little yellow ball ball back and forth over a net. The friends you will make, the laughs, the competitive spirit, and the workout are all beneficial to life. Whether you are just starting tennis, or a lifelong player, this game is for you.