NATIONAL TENNIS RATING PROGRAM
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
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.
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;
SERVE/RETURN OF SERVE: Incomplete service motion; double
faults common; toss is inconsistent; return of serve
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
FOREHAND: Fairly consistent with some directional intent; lacks
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
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
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
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
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;
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
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.
Asked Questions About the NTRP
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Chart for Converting NTRP Ratings
to the Older A-B-C System and to the USPTA's Handicapping System.