You may have heard keen tennis players talking about how they plan to improve their UTR, or you might have read that college recruiters will be more interested in you if your UTR is good. In this article, we will try to demystify this strange terminology.
Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) is a measure of a player’s playing level, which is regularly updated. Players are rated on a scale between 1 and 16.5. A beginner has a UTR of 1, while Rafael Nadal is a 16. UTR gives the greatest weighting to recent match results, taking into account the opponent’s level and the closeness of the score.
Both male and female players are given UTR scores on the same scale, enabling them to play tournaments against one another to improve their rating, if they so choose.
We will begin by reviewing the history of the UTR, and will go on to explain how you can find a player’s UTR. We will indicate what might be considered a ‘good’ UTR for either gender, and will also look at how to convert a UTR to an NTRP rating, as used by the USTA. Finally, we will look at the various tennis tournaments which operate to enable players to improve their UTR and potentially win money.
The History Of UTR
UTR was launched by Virginia tennis pro Dave Howell in 2008, and the algorithm was designed by Alex Cancado. Howell’s aim was to devise a rating system which was up-to-date and accurate, and which would lead to more matches being genuinely competitive.
UTR has gradually begun to be used more and more around the world, which means that it can be used to compare players from any country. This is why it is particularly popular with college recruiters, as they would otherwise have little reliable means of comparing domestic and overseas applicants.
Today, UTR is the official rating system for college tennis in the US, and more than 40 national federations regularly submit results to UTR. In addition, professional results are now included, so even the world’s top players have a UTR.
How To Find Out Your Tennis UTR
To find your own, or another player’s, UTR, you will need to go to universaltennis.com. There, you can set up an account to check your UTR and the results that have contributed to it. In addition, you will be able to search for other players by name to find out their ratings.
What Is A Good UTR Rating?
This depends very much on how seriously you take the game. The UTR scale ranges from 1.00 to 16.50, with higher numbers being better. Solid club players might be rated between 6 and 8 for males or 4 and 6 for females. If you are male and want to play division 1 NCAA tennis, you will probably need a UTR above 12, perhaps 13 or above for a full scholarship.
If you are female, a rating of over 11 is likely to be needed. Professionals will be less concerned about their UTR, but Novak Djokovic has a rating of 16.27 at the time of writing, with Roger Federer’s having fallen to 15.59 due to inactivity. Ashleigh Barty has a UTR of 13.36, whilst that of US Open champion Emma Raducanu is 12.70. Essentially, however, UTR is primarily relevant prior to and during a player’s time at college, so it will be then when they are most concerned about having a ‘good’ rating.
How To Convert UTR To USTA NTRP
NTRP ratings are used to ensure competitiveness and fairness within the USTA league structure. They are initially often self-assessed, and are revised on an annual basis in the light of results. This is very different to the UTR, which is continually revised to reflect the most recent results, and is purely results based. Due to this difference, there is no reliable conversion between the two systems, especially as some NTRP ratings will turn out to be significantly inaccurate. Nonetheless, various tables have been published giving a broad comparison. The USTA have published the following on their website, usta.com:
NTRP to UTR-range Conversion Table
Men’s NTRP UTR Range Women’s NTRP UTR Range
4.0 6 – 8 4.0 4 – 6
4.5 8 – 10 4.5 6 – 8
5.0 10 – 12 5.0 8 – 10
5.5+ 11+ 5.5+ 9+
NTRP to UTR Conversion Formula (used by Tennis360)
(Men’s NTRP) x 2.2 = UTR
(Women’s NTRP – 0.5) x 2.2 = UTR
You will see that they suggest multiplying the NTRP by 2.2 to get an estimated UTR, but this is very approximate, as are any of the comparisons in the above table.
UTR Tennis Tournaments
Around the world, there are many events which use the UTR as a basis for entries and matching opponents. These enable players to improve their UTR and potentially earn some prize money. One example is the Progress Tour in the UK.
Universal Tennis runs a Professional Tennis Tour (PTT) in which they have invested over $20 million dollars over three years. The calendar includes hundreds of events each year, in which each player earns at least a small amount of prize money, and which are run on a round-robin basis, assuring each player of at least four matches. To be eligible, players must have a UTR of at least 12.50 for males, or 9.70 for females, and must have a PTT ranking between 200 and 2,000 (wild cards are available for players outside this range).
Aside from specifically UTR-based events, all of your results are in any case likely to be submitted to UTR, meaning that every result can help you to improve your rating. Events run on a basis taking UTR into account are, however, likely to help you to improve your rating more quickly, as you are unlikely to play players rated much lower or higher than yourself.
UTR gives a good idea of a player’s current playing standard. If you aim to play NCAA tennis, you should aim to improve your UTR, as this will enhance your chances of a scholarship.