Back when I first got rated, players had to be physically rated by a USTA official. Yep, unlike today’s self-rating system (which started in 2003,) newbie players like myself had to actually go to a designated tennis club, fill out paperwork with our info, and then based on the chart below, we had to rate ourselves. But that’s not all…
We had to sit in bleachers that lined one of the club’s tennis courts, and based on our self-rating, we were called onto the court in groups of 4 (for doubles), where we played maybe 8 or 10 points (with everyone getting to serve), or for a long enough time for the officials to study our game. Then we were called off the court to sit and watch as other foursomes took to the court to do the same.
Waiting for our ratings seemed to take forever, but after 30 minutes or so, a list of ratings was posted, and mine was a disappointing 2.38 (yep, they use hundredths, lol!) I thought for sure I’d at least be a 3.0…but in looking back, I was self-taught at that point and only could slice the ball, and had no weapons of any kind.
That was then. There’s a BIG difference in skills from the beginner I was to the solid player I am today. Over the years, I’ve worked hard to improve my game, taking lessons, drills, and clinics, and now I’m a solid 4.5, though I have played – and won – at the 5.0 level.
Though a visual rating is spot on (unless you sandbag,) I think self-rating is fine, as long as you go by the chart…and if you aren’t sure, go a little lower. You’ll still have quality matches while you work your way up to where you’ll be more challenged. Going higher will result in frustration because you’ll more than likely lose most, if not all of your matches, and that’s not fun for anyone. And if you purposefully rate yourself lower in order to “sandbag,” or to be on a team with your lower ranking buddies, well…that’s just wrong. There’s no fun in playing short, lopsided matches, and you won’t grow as a tennis player. As a matter of fact, playing others who are that much weaker than you will actually hurt your own game, as you will eventually start playing like them.
For everything there is to know about NTRP ratings, including helpful links on how you can get your rating, or appeal it, please visit my “FAQs About NTRP Ratings”
How ’bout you? What are you currently rated, or what do you think you’d be rated? You can find your tennis rating using the National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP) category chart below.