» USTA League Tennis

Mysteries of the NTRP


If I am a 3.5 player, why do I consistently lose to other 3.5 players? This is a typical lament throughout every NTRP level. We will use the 3.5 category as our example:

Most players do not realize that every NTRP level is comprised of a vast range of ability. Ratings are calculated in hundredths,at the annual benchmark meeting. These ratings in 100th become the player's Dynamic NTRP start rate for the next year.

If a 3.1 player had a match against a 3.4, or a 3.5 player, the 3.4/3.5 player would win most of the time. If a 3.2 played a 3.3, the outcome would not be predictable. If a “top of level” 3.5 played a 3.6 (4.0 playing level) the results would not be predictable, even though they are at two different NTRP levels. This happens frequently as players “play up”. Consequently, the potential of losing a match to a player with a lower NTRP rating is possible.

Using the preceding information to understand the complexities of how ratings are determined should help the league players to better understand a theoretical eventuality: A player loses a majority of their league matches, and yet their rating improves to the next (higher) NTRP level: Does it occur often? No.

A 3.5 player goes 2-6 on the year and assumes he or she will stay at that level for the following year. As we analyze the six losses, the six opponents had improved (3.7 to be exact) and will be published at the 4.0 level for the following league year.

In the losses to the eventual 3.7s, it is discovered that the matches were all very close 3 setters, i.e. 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. If the player with the 2-6 record was a top level 3.5, his or her rating would actually increase due to the very close losses against opponents with higher ratings.

What players neglect to understand is: Computerized NTRP ratings are affected by the opponents you play, who your partners were, and match results (regardless of whether it was a win or a loss). What position you played, actual number of wins versus losses, or team standings, do NOT affect ratings.

Every player competing at a championship event, National, Sectional, or District, is designated a “Benchmark Player”. All league players in our Section are directly or indirectly related to a Benchmark Player.

The 3.5 Adult League players who competed at the National Championships are assigned Benchmark Ratings based on match results at the Nationals and their Dynamic rating coming into the event. The National Benchmarks are entered into the Sectional Championship computer files and used to measure the match results of the players who participated at the Sectionals.

The Sectional Benchmarks are then entered into the District file and are used to calculate District Benchmarks.

Finally, all Benchmarks, National, Sectional, and District, are entered into the local league file and used to compare, either directly or indirectly, the match results of local league players and calculate their final ratings.

How a 3.5 with a 2-6 win-loss record can become a 4.0 player

Lost to 3.6: 4-6, 7-6, 6-2

Lost to 3.7 6-3, 4-6, 6-4

Lost to 3.6 7-5, 7-6

Lost to 3.4 1-6, 7-5, 6-3

Lost to 3.6 4-6, 6-4, 7-6

Lost to 3.5 6-4, 2-6, 6-3

Def. 3.2 6-2, 6-3

Def. 3.4 6-3, 7-5