Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) is a rating system that could revolutionize the sport at every level — from club play to college recruiting, to the very top of the professional tours.
How It Works
The current ATP (men), WTA (women), ITF, Canadian Junior/Senior, USTA Junior/Senior rankings are based on point accumulation, which benefits the players who get easier draws or play more matches and junior players whose parents have enough money to travel to tournaments.
By contrast, UTR is calculated based on the strength of who you play and the score (games won), not the result. It takes into account the past 30 matches — or however many that person has played in the past 12 months.
Players are rated on a scale from 1 (raw beginner) to 16.5 (Rafael Nadal has a 16.18 rating at the time of this post), and anyone can register and start working on a rating for free.
Like a golf handicap, it’s a simple number that gives players a way to judge results other than win-loss and can show improvement when a weaker player does better than expected, but still loses, to a better player.
UTR pays no attention to age or gender, so it allows play between genders and mixed doubles matches to count just like any other result would.
The Big Picture
UTR was originally launched in 2008 to help match junior players more fairly in local tournaments. It has since evolved into something much bigger.
College recruiting: UTR is now the primary method that college coaches use to recruit players since it allows them to more accurately compare kids from different regions. From our recent experience speaking with college coaches, not one coach asked what Cade’s Canadian junior ranking is or how many times he has played in the Nationals. All they want to know is what his UTR is. See more about this at the end of this post.
Self Rating Guide: The current Tennis Canada system, which ranks people by 0.5 increments forces country club pros to make difficult decisions about who makes teams, who gets relegated, etc. As more clubs start using UTR to track players and host tournaments, it could help solve that.
What To Watch For
UTR ratings have begun popping up on broadcasts next to names like Roger Federer and Serena Williams, giving rise to the theory that UTR could become a “mainstream” ranking system and perhaps even replace the ATP and WTA rankings.
The other side: That isn’t part of the plan, according to UTR CEO Mark Leschly: “I think they tell different stories. The ATP and WTA tell a 12-month story of how far you went in major tournaments. With us, it’s how you’re competing.”
Plus, most players and tournament hosts are content with the current system because it’s designed to reward players for participating in as many tournaments as possible.
The bottom line: UTR has emerged as a widely-accepted ranking system at the pinnacle of tennis.
But with the pro circuit representing just a sliver of the world’s tennis population, UTR could have an even greater impact serving as the glue that binds tennis players of all ages, genders and skill levels together — much like the handicap system has done for golf.
Revving Up Your College Search
Although the free version of UTR lets you compare your rating with other players, including college varsity players, the advanced tools bundled with a Premium UTR membership do even more and do things much more easily. Here’s how to use some of UTR’s premium tools.
We recently signed up for the UTR Power membership so Cade could research what schools might be a good fit for him as he pursues playing college tennis
Here is how it works…
- Sign up for the Power membership option.
As a Power member, you’ll notice that your UTR is more precise, giving values with two decimal places. This lets you observe how your own UTR changes from day to day—it will move upwards with every match as you continue to improve your tennis. (Claiming your player profile—even as a free Basic member—also allows you to see your own UTR with decimal-place precision.)
The UTR Fit feature allows a player to see if his or her UTR is high enough to make the starting lineup of a given college team. Our College Search report allows UTR Power members to view all the colleges for which their UTRs are above that of the sixth-highest player on the roster. Next, you can filter the list by gender, state, public/private, athletic conference, or NCAA division to focus your search.
Beyond the prospect’s UTR, each college coach will apply his or her own criteria for what they seek in a recruit. The UTR Fit tool provides a very quick “reality check” to help set expectations regarding college tennis.
4. The UTR Power 6™ Rating adds up the six highest, most reliable player ratings for each college team. The Power 6™ Rating and the UTR Fit are great measuring tools to help you prequalify college teams, based on your competitive fit. However, bear in mind that individual and team UTRs do not necessarily correspond to player or team rankings since other factors influence such rankings. In addition, a Power 6™ UTR Rating neither implies nor suggests any actual team lineup, which, of course, can change daily.
Cade started planning for college tennis in Grade 10. This year he has reached out to a number of schools/coaches and he is in the early discussions with a few of them.
5. Have some favorite college teams you want to view in the future? Save them to your UTR system dashboard. UTRs fluctuate based on how well players compete from day-to-day. Sometimes, new people may not yet have a 100 percent reliable UTR. Their ratings will change as more of their matches enter the UTR system. You can find updated UTRs for your saved teams whenever you open the UTR website. You can also save players you’d like to follow your UTR dashboard.