Verification Guidelines

The NTRP rating system is used to match tennis players of comparable skill levels so they can get the most enjoyment out of  matches, group lessons, leagues, and tournaments.

For most situations, you can rate yourself. Read the criteria below and imagine you're  competing against a player of the same ability and gender as yourself. Once you identify a level that best describes your abilities, check that you meet most or all of the criteria of the skill levels lower than the one you have selected as your rating. If you have difficulty choosing between two levels, go with the higher rating. Results based on past participation in USTA sanctioned tournaments and leagues can also be used to determine your NTRP rating.

Remember, ratings are not permanent but can be adjusted based on your play and match results.

To participate in USTA leagues, your self-rating must be confirmed by an official NTRP verifier. If you belong to a tennis club, one of the staff pros is usually a verifier.

If you have a rating based on an older, pre-NTRP system, go here to convert that rating to an NTRP rating.

For answers to frequently asked questions about the NTRP, go here.

This player is just starting to play tennis

This player has limited experience and is still working primarily on getting the ball into play

FOREHAND: Incomplete swing; lacks directional intent
BACKHAND: Avoids backhands; erratic contact; grip problems; incomplete swing
SERVE/RETURN OF SERVE: Incomplete service motion; double faults common; toss is inconsistent; return of serve erratic
VOLLEY: Reluctant to play net; avoids BH; lacks footwork
PLAYING STYLE: Familiar with basic positions for singles and doubles play; frequently out of position

FOREHAND: Form developing; prepared for moderately paced shots
BACKHAND: Grip and preparation problems; often chooses to hit FH instead of BH
SERVE/RETURN OF SERVE: Attempting a full swing; can get the ball in play at slow pace; inconsistent toss; can return slow paced serve
VOLLEY: Uncomfortable at net especially on the BH side; frequently uses FH racket face on BH volleys
SPECIAL SHOTS: Can lob intentionally but with little control; can make contact on overheads
PLAYING STYLE: Can sustain a short rally of slow pace; weak court coverage; usually remains in the initial doubles position

FOREHAND: Fairly consistent with some directional intent; lacks depth control
BACKHAND: Frequently prepared; starting to hit with fair consistency on moderate shots
SERVE/RETURN OF SERVE: Developing rhythm; little consistency when trying for power; second serve is often considerably slower than first serve; can return serve with fair consistency
VOLLEY: Consistent FH volley; inconsistent BH volley, has trouble with low and wide shots
SPECIAL SHOTS: Can lob consistently on moderate shots
PLAYING STYLE: Consistent on medium-paced shots; most common doubles formation is still one-up, one-back; approaches net when play dictates but weak in execution

FOREHAND: Good consistency and variety on moderate shots; good directional control; developing spin
BACKHAND: Hitting with directional control on moderate shots; has difficulty on high or hard shots; returns difficult shot defensively
SERVE/RETURN OF SERVE: Starting to serve with control and some power; developing spin; can return serve consistently with directional control on moderate shots
VOLLEY: More aggressive net play; some ability to cover side shots; uses proper footwork; can direct FH volleys; controls BH volley but with little offense; difficulty in putting volleys away
SPECIAL SHOTS: Consistent overhead on shots within reach; developing approach shots, drop shots; and half volleys; can place the return of most second serves
PLAYING STYLE: Consistency on moderate shots with directional control; improved court coverage; starting to look for the opportunity to come to the net; developing teamwork in doubles

FOREHAND: Dependable; hits with depth and control on moderate shots; may try to hit too good a placement on a difficult shot
BACKHAND: Player can direct the ball with consistency and depth on moderate shots; developing spin
SERVE/RETURN OF SERVE: Places both first and second serves; frequent power on first serve; uses spin; dependable return of serve; can return with depth in singles and mix returns in doubles
VOLLEY: Depth and control on FH volley; can direct BH volleys but usually lacks depth; developing wide and low volleys on both sides of the body
SPECIAL SHOTS: Can put away easy overheads; can poach in doubles; follows aggressive shots to the net; beginning to finish point off; can hit to opponent's weaknesses; able to lob defensively on setups; dependable return of serve
PLAYING STYLE: Dependable ground strokes with directional control and depth demonstrated on moderate shots; not yet playing good percentage tennis; teamwork in doubles is evident; rallies may still be lost due to impatience

FOREHAND: Very dependable; uses speed and spin effectively; controls depth well; tends to overhit on difficult shots; offensive on moderate shots
BACKHAND: Can control direction and depth but may break down under pressure; can hit power on moderate shots
SERVE/RETURN OF SERVE: Aggressive serving with limited double faults; uses power and spin; developing offense; on second serve frequently hits with good depth and placement; frequently hits aggressive service returns; can take pace off with moderate success in doubles
VOLLEY: Can handle a mixed sequence of volleys; good footwork; has depth and directional control on BH; developing touch; most common error is still overhitting
SPECIAL SHOTS: Approach shots hit with good depth and control; can consistently hit volleys and overheads to end the point; frequently hits aggressive service returns
PLAYING STYLE: More intentional variety in game; is hitting with more pace; covers up weaknesses well; beginning to vary game plan according to opponent; aggressive net play is common in doubles; good anticipation; beginning to handle pace

FOREHAND: Strong shot with control, depth, and spin; uses FH to set up offensive situations; has developed good touch; consistent on passing shots
BACKHAND: Can use BH as an aggressive shot with good consistency; has good direction and depth on most shots; varies spin
SERVE/RETURN OF SERVE: Serve is placed effectively with the intent of hitting to a weakness or developing an offensive situation; has a variety of serves to rely on; good depth, spin, and placement on most second serves to force weak return or set up next shot; can mix aggressive and off-paced service returns with control, depth, and spin
VOLLEY: Can hit most volleys with depth, pace, and direction; plays difficult volleys with depth; given opportunity, volley is often hit for a winner
SPECIAL SHOTS: Approach shots and passing shots are hit with pace and a high degree of effectiveness; can lob offensively; overhead can be hit from any position; hits mid-court volley with consistency; can mix aggressive and off-paced service returns
PLAYING STYLE: Frequently has an outstanding shot or attribute around which his game is built; can vary game plan according to opponent; this player is 'match wise,' plays percentage tennis, and 'beats himself' less than the 4.5 player; solid teamwork in doubles is evident; game breaks down mentally and physically more often than the 5.5 player

This player can hit dependable shots in stress situations; has developed good anticipation; can pick up cues from such things as opponent's toss, body position, backswing, preparation; first and second serves can be depended on in stress situations and can be hit offensively at any time; can analyze and exploit opponent's weaknesses; has developed power and /or consistency as a major weapon; can vary strategies and style of play in a competitive situation.

6.0 to 7.0
These players will generally not need NTRP ratings. Rankings or past rankings will speak for themselves. The 6.0 player typically has had intensive training for national tournament competition at the junior level and collegiate levels and has obtained a sectional and/or national ranking. The 6.5 player has a reasonable chance of succeeding at the 7.0 level and has extensive satellite tournament experience. The 7.0 is a world class player who is committed to tournament competition on the international level and whose major source of income is tournament prize winnings.

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Frequently Asked Questions About the NTRP

General Information

Q. How does the NTRP compare to the traditional terms of beginner, advanced beginner, intermediate, etc., or the frequently used letter a, b, c. aa, bb, aaa, etc.?

A. The NTRP was designed to eliminate the use of traditional terms in classifying player ability. There is so much ambiguity associated with these systems that translation is difficult. In various parts of the country for example "A" or "Advanced" is the top level of play, while in other places "AAA" is the best. In general terms, a D player would be a 2.5 and below; a C player would be a 2.6 - 3.5; a B player would be 3.6 - 4.5; and an A player would be 4.6 - 5.5; an open player would be 5.6 and above.

Q. Should players rate themselves as single players, double players, or both?

A. Players should rate themselves based on their overall tennis ability. If players are stronger at singles or doubles, they should base their rating on the stronger game.

Q. Is a rating by a qualified verifier more accurate than a self-rating and can the NTRP be successful without pro verification - as a self-rating-only program?

A. While a more accurate rating will come from the objective viewpoint of a qualified verifier, a self-rating can be accurate. But it is important to remember that THERE IS NO SUBSTITUE FOR MATCH RESULTS A MEASURE OF PLAYING ABILITY. Even when the NTRP is used as a self-rating-only program, an administrator may oversee the program and, if necessary, help the players adjust their ratings. In any competitive program it will become obvious from match results when players have rated themselves inaccurately.

Q. Is it necessary for every player who is rated at a facility to have a qualified verifier rating for the NTRP to work effectively?

A. No, but it is advantageous for at least a small percentage of the players to be rated by a qualified verifier. These players may serve as models for the remaining players to make a valid self-rating.

Q. Can existing leagues, challenge ladders and other competitive programs be used in implementing the NTRP at a facility?

A. Yes. These programs are beneficial in implementing the NTRP because a qualified verifier may assign ratings to players based on their performances in such programs.

Q. Can the NTRP self-rating program be used for placement in instructional programs without being evaluated by a qualified verifier?

A. Yes. The self-rating program can easily be used in instructional programs. If players incorrectly rate their ability levels, it will show up in class performance. It is the responsibility of the instructor to help players adjust their ratings and place them at proper class levels.

Verification Information

Q. Is there a prescribed "test" that a qualified verifier can use to rate a player?

A. No. There is no specific test that a qualified verifier should use to determine a player's rating. The best criteria is match results, but it is also helpful to refer to the NTRP Verification Guidelines, tennis background, and observe all strokes during the warm-up when rating players.

Q. Must players qualify on all points of all preceding NTRP descriptions before placing themselves in a particular category?

A. No. The rating categories are generalizations about skill levels. The ultimate test is in match play results.

Q. Can a player with an obvious stroke deficiency be rated at the same level, or higher, as a player who has no such deficiency?

A. Yes. Some players, for example, cannot hit topspin backhands but have certain abilities that enable them to play competitively with players who can do so. A player's competitive record is the best test of his rating.

Q. Does the NTRP rate men and women on the same scale?

A. The NTRP is used to rate both men and women, but men's and women's ratings are not intended to be equivalent. When rating themselves, players should use players of the same gender as reference points. However, for those individuals wishing to compete against players of the opposite gender, the following can be use as a guide. At approximately the 3.5 rating for a man, a woman with a 4.0 rating will be competitive. When a man reaches the 5.0 level or above a woman needs to be approximately 1.0 higher in order to be competitive.

Q. Is it possible to use graduations smaller that .5 in rating players?

A. Yes. It is recommended, however, that for self-verification, players use .5 increments. For initial verification, a qualified verifier may use the minus (-) sing to indicate the lower end of the playing category as compared with the upper limit of that category.

Q. What does it mean to play "competitively" with another player?

A. A "competitive" match is one in which the outcome is unpredictable (scores such s 6-4, 6-4 or closer). When one player consistently wins with only the occasional loss of a few games, the match is not "competitive." Properly rated, players within .2 of each other should be competitive in playing ability.

Q. What does it mean to be "compatible" with another player?

A. Players with up to a .5 difference is ratings are generally considered "compatible." At a .5 difference in ratings, the outcome is predictable with the higher rated player winning routinely. "Compatible" players however, can offer each other recreational, social, and practice benefits.

Q. Can a player's rating change?

A. Yes. The initial analysis of a player's game is not always perfect; therefore, a qualifier verifier should always explain to a player that the initial on-court verification is a provisional rating and may change based on match results.


Q. What is the relationship between ranking and rating?

A. Ranking is based upon achievement in sanctioned tournaments, many of which are based on age divisions. Rating is based on match results, tennis background, and the NTRP Verification Guideline descriptions.

Q. How should individuals rate themselves if they are formerly ranked players who have not played much in recent year or who have had a permanent injury?

A. Ratings will not be downgraded due to layoffs. A person's rating should be closely related to his or her potential upon resuming play on a regular basis. Only permanent injuries or aging debilities should allow for downgraded ratings. Ratings should not be downgraded due to temporary injury.

Q. How does age enter into the NTRP ratings?

A. The NTRP is not based on age divisions. All players of the same gender, regardless of age, should be used as reference points in determining player ratings. After choosing a rating, players should ask themselves: "Can I play competitively against any age player of my gender who is rated at the same level that I have rated myself?"

Q. Can the NTRP be used to rate junior players?

A. Yes If junior player participate in an adult activity using the NTRP, their ratings are in comparison to all other players of the same gender of any age - not just other junior players. Junior players should not be rated until they are experienced in match play.

Q. How does mobility, age, competitive experience, and conditioning affect your rating?

A. Mobility: Ability to cover the court is a prime factor in competitive success. Players need to be observed in a competitive situation so that, in addition to their shot making ability, mobility can be estimated. Mobility is a more important factor in singles that in doubles.

Age and Competitive Experience: as speed decreased with age, a player's competitive ability may be affected. At the same time, strategy and skills may have improve as a player ages. Therefore, one must rely on competitive results.

Conditioning: Temporary changes in conditioning such as a non-permanent injury should not affect a player's rating. Players whose game and physical fitness have suffered due to lack of practice and exercise will not be matched tough and should be placed in the category where they normally compete.

Source: USTA

Chart for Converting NTRP Ratings to the Older A-B-C System and to the USPTA's Handicapping System.

NTRP Men's NTRP Women's Tencap Men's Grade
ATP Ranked
Women's Grade
ATP Ranked
7.0 - 0 - -
6.5 - 5 - -
- 7.0 7 - -
6.0 - 10 A+ -
- 6.5 12 - -
5.5 - 15 A -
- 6.0 17 - A+
5.0 - 20 A- -
- 5.5 22 - A
4.5 - 25 B+ -
- 5.0 27 - A-
4.0 - 30 B -
- 4.5 32 - B+
3.5 - 35 B- -
- 4.0 37 - B
3.0 - 40 C+ -
- 3.5 42 - B-
2.5 - 45 C -
- 3.0 47 - C+
2.0 - 50 C- -
- 2.5 52 C- -
1.5 - 55 Beginner -
- 2.0 57 - C-
1.0 - 60 - -
- - 0 - -
- 1.5 62 - Beginner
.5 - 65 - -