By Gabe Harmat – Tennis Coach
After listening to a lot of chit chat and overhearing comments (some couldn’t be any further from the truth) I felt obligated to address a few topics that are related to ratings, group and private lessons.
First, before I explain how the rating system works let me assure you that the last thing on any staff members’ mind is to deprive anyone from moving up on the rating ladder. After all, our goal is to get each one of you up to the next level and play a higher quality game.
Keep in mind that everyone has their own time table and their improvement is based on several factors which are talent, athleticism, time spent on the court and good coaching.
Therefore don’t compare your improvement to others’, but rather measure it by how far you have come along.
There are two rating systems. One is the NTRP (national tennis rating program) and the other is the UTR which stands for Universal Tennis Rating. The first one is more beneficial for club use, WTT (world team tennis) and USTA league.
The UTR is a universal system, it has a complete data of each player which includes win and loss records and all scores. It is more accurate and it’s used especially to determine scholarship eligibility.
The following NTRP scale is the one that should help you to understand where you are standing with your progress and will tell you what are your weaknesses and strength.
- Level 1.0: Introductory level, building eye hand coordination, learning the grips and basic strokes.
- Level 1.5: Very minimal stroke production, able to hit a static ball with some success.
- Level 2.0: Starting to develop structure and court coverage.
- Level 2.5: Can sustain a short rally with slow pace, weak volley, overhead and serve skills.
- Level 3.0: This player has a threshold of 5 rallies at medium pace before the structure gives way. At this level player should know some singles and doubles basic strategies.
- Level 3.5: Stroke production becoming more reliable at medium pace with spurs of more depth aggressive strokes, starting to develop doubles skills.
- Level 4.0: A player at this level should have directional control on forehand and backhand, able to approach the net and finish the point with an overhead or a winning volley. Serves are consistent but lacking power. Understanding of doubles team work is evident at this level.
- Level 4.5: Congratulations! If you have reached this level you may be considered an “accomplished player”. You are expected to have mastered all the spins, have a weapon or two (big serve, big forehand or backhand), you should be able to charge the net and set up finishing volleys and overheads. Sound footwork, anticipation and mixing tactics are also a must at this level.
- Level 5.0: A player at this level is a “slow version of a 7.0 pro level”. This player has mastered a variety of specialty shots, can hit winners from anywhere on the court, plays consistently with power and yet can mix it up with finesse. This player’s reaction time is superb which translates into a great return of serve.
- Level 5.5: This is a collage player level, this player has intensive tournament experience, mental toughness and adapting to perform under pressure go along with it. A player at this level would be equivalent to 11 to 13 UTR rating.
- Level 6.0: This is a nationally ranked player, high level college player who occasionally enters pro satellite level tournaments. These are the “dark horses” who every once in a while make a breakthrough at the pro level.
- Level 6.5: A player at this level is capable of beating pros in the top 100 on a good day, a player at this level enters satellite and challenger tournament and quite often qualifies for the Grand slams.
- Level 7.0: A 7.0 player is a professional tennis player who makes a living on the tour.
Now that you have established your rating you should be able to enroll in the suitable tennis program.
The Paseo club is offering clinics all the way up to 4.0 level, (I’m hoping to introduce a new one at 4.5/5.0 level). Here is what you should and shouldn’t expect in a group lesson.
At this level you are handed the “blue print” of tennis, if you will, you’ll learn the basic strokes and get familiar with the proper grip for each stroke. The next set of skills that you’ll learn are serve, volley and overhead to be followed by slow pace line drills. Keep on mind that the strokes that you are learning are at beginners level are not the “final product”. The purpose of this clinic is to have a novice player “up and running” and enjoying the sport in the shortest time possible. To excel the learning progress one may want to consider private lessons, yes they are more costly but well worth the investment.
Advanced beginner level: (2.0/2.5)
The players at this level already have some stroke orientation, the drills are conducted at a little faster tempo and the feed is at slow to medium pace. Transition, footwork and stroke production are being introduced. Expect a good cardio workout, fun and games. Don’t expect the pro the “break down” your strokes in a group setting, that’s what private lessons are designed for. However the coach may offer some tips to an individual while picking the balls up.
Intermediate level: (3.0/3.5)
These players have a little game experience, U.S.T.A. league, WTT or club competition. The drills at this level are more demanding, balls are fed with more pace and higher frequency and game patterns and doubles strategy are a part of the program. Emphasis is on “split step”, “dynamic” and “static” balance and “spacing” and doubles patterns. Expect a variety of “live ball” point play and lots of cardio. Don’t expect the coach to correct your stroke unless it’s fundamentally flawed
Advanced level: (4.0, 4.5, 5.0)
Players at this level have established already a solid structure. The drills at this level are conducted at high level. The balls are fed at high speed with intense frequency. Emphasis is on power play, court coverage, all the spins, reaction volleys, specialty shots and advanced footwork, serve and return, serve and volley, poaching and point play. The purpose of this session is to keep you sharp and ready for your upcoming competition.