In a few dozen ways, Universal Tennis Rating is reshaping the game.
What’s your UTR
The day will come when tennis players ask each other, “What’s your UTR?” the same way golfers now inquire, “What’s your handicap?” UTR, the acronym for Universal Tennis Rating, is quickly becoming the worldwide yardstick for ability in the game of tennis. That’s because the game badly needs a simple, widely shared way to measure players’ skill, and UTR perfectly meets that need.

UTR is tennis’s metric system. It’s a worldwide service that rates tennis players and teams. With 2,700 different ranking systems operating across the planet, UTR is the one standard recognized everywhere. By far the simplest, most accurate gauge of tennis ability, UTR’s 16-point scale applies to both sexes, all ages, and all levels of skill, from beginners to top professionals. From Grand Slams to college matches to junior events, UTR is rapidly becoming the gold standard that players, coaches, tournaments, and national federations use to ensure exciting, well-matched play.

UTR 16-levels
UTR’s 16-point scale applies to both sexes, all ages, and all levels of skill, from beginners to top professionals.
UTR’s algorithm computes ratings for athletes anywhere in the world, mining its database of more than 3.5 million matches and 270,000 players in 204 countries. More than 2,000 college tennis teams have UTRs, both for individual athletes and for the teams themselves, which UTR’s Power 6 ratings pin down.

“UTR’s algorithm computes ratings for athletes anywhere in the world, mining its database of more than 3.5 million matches and 270,000 players in 204 countries.”
The system taps competitive results from the world’s largest tennis federations, including the United States Tennis Association, Tennis Canada, the Lawn Tennis Association of Great Britain, Tennis Europe, and Tennis Australia. It also captures results from major sanctioning bodies, including the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), and many high-school matches.

What’s your UTR?
Statistics show that players whose UTRs fall within 1.0 of each other will reliably have a competitive match—one whose outcome is a score of 6-3, 6-4 or closer.
Statistics show that players whose UTRs fall within 1.0 of each other will reliably have a competitive match—one whose outcome is a score of 6-3, 6-4 or closer. The ability to arrange even pairings allows UTR to orchestrate level-based play: contests based on equal tennis skill, not similar age or same gender. Level-based play generates an abundance of rewards, ranging from reduced costs to faster player development to democratizing the game by bringing in more young players. Like music, skill on the court is a universal language; thus, level-based play has helped UTR become the metric system for tennis. (The French tournament system, organized around principles that inspired UTR, has been producing world-beating results in tennis for a couple of decades now.)

In a few dozen ways, Universal Tennis Rating is reshaping the game.
The French tournament system, organized around principles that inspired UTR, has been producing world-beating results in tennis for a couple of decades now.
UTR also can make the game fairer and more enjoyable by designing level-based play into tournaments. Doing this generates more interesting matches and minimizes one-sided routs that are a bore to play, never mind watch. First, applying UTR can eliminate the “luck of the draw” that allows some athletes to advance further than they should while eliminating others who should have played longer. It offers a way to design an ideal tournament that maximizes both fairness and close matches.

“UTR also can make the game fairer and more enjoyable by designing level-based play into tournaments.”
Tournament directors and national federations are noticing UTR’s advantages, and so propelling the system into the mainstream. For example, American tennis, under the auspices of the USTA, has been applying UTR in organized events from coast to coast. The USTA has seeded national-level playoffs with UTR. Junior players in Australia enjoyed an event built around UTRs, as did American juniors in Atlanta. New Balance convened top high-school athletes for a national UTR-based showdown in Boston, while Oracle joined the ITA to set up a national contest for junior standouts climaxing in Malibu, California.

In a few dozen ways, Universal Tennis Rating is reshaping the game.
Annual New Balance UTR-based showdown in Boston, which attracts top high-school players.
Meanwhile, the first and second UTR Boston Opens, played at Harvard University, put UTR to work shaping a strong draw for level-based play that abolished barriers of age, gender, or professional/amateur status.

What’s Your UTR?
UTR can also help a young athlete find a college well matched to his or her tennis game.
As noted earlier, more than 2,000 college tennis teams have UTR Power 6 ratings, and all their athletes own individual UTRs as well. This isn’t surprising, as UTR is a mainstay of college tennis that offers many resources for the intercollegiate game. These include the Team Compare feature that allows easy analysis of matchups, historic ratings that track changes over time, and doubles results that feed into the UTR database. UTR can also help a young athlete find a college well matched to his or her tennis game. College Tennis Today blogger Bobby Knight contributes a series of blogs to the UTR website listing the top ten collegiate players from various nations, including France, Spain, Canada—and yes, the United States.

The coaches who mentor those athletes also draw on a wellspring of UTR services, including a toolbox of items that streamline and empower their work. Useful discussions for both coaches and players include an essay on the magic of competition and how it develops skill, and another on the value of moving past won/lost records to more specific and helpful data for player development. U.S. Air Force Academy head coach Dan Oosterhous shows how UTR can help a collegiate coach revamp his team’s schedule to make it more competitive. And there’s an inspiring story on how, with a little help from UTR, Paul MacDonald took his unseeded squad of Midwest junior boys to the national 18-and-under championship.

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