Universal Tennis Rating is the official rating system for the ITA – Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
New to Asia, UTR has created some hype but also some confusion and in this article we would like to try and explain briefly how it works, why we incorporate UTR into our competitive pathway and how players, parents and coaches should be viewing and using UTR as a necessary stepping stone on their development journey.
WHAT IS UTR?
In a nutshell – UTR is a number that represents an accurate measurement of current performance skills. Each player will have a UTR number between 1.00 – 16.50.
HOW IS YOUR UTR CALCULATED?
When a player plays their first UTR match, they will receive a projected UTR (P next to their profile) and after approximately 5 matches their UTR will become fully reliable. As they play more matches, their results will be entered into the system and their UTR will increase or decrease over time.
This is the important stuff:
The UTR algorithm calculates an expected outcome based on players ratings and the player who does better than the expected outcome will see their rating go up; the player who does worse than the expected outcome will see their rating go down – by the same amount.
So, a player who is rated lower but loses to a higher rated player in a very close match may actually beat the expected outcome and still increase their rating. This means the higher rated player, even though they won, may actually see their rating decrease.
I know this seems a bit strange – a player who wins should always go up in traditional thinking. I get it, but I actually think UTR has been designed and created by some very intelligent people who understand the world of tennis very clearly, and if their vision is properly understood we should see a more accurate representation of the level of players over the long haul.
UTR simply looks at 2 factors when calculating the match rating:
UTR difference between opponents. Greater than 2.00 and the result will not help the higher rated player but will raise the lower player’s rating if they happen to win.
Competitiveness of the match – shown by the percent of total games won.
So how do you boost your UTR?
You need to play lots and lots of matches and perform well in each match. You have to beat lower ranked players convincingly, and push closer and closer to higher rated players. Beat the expected outcome and look at each match as valuable feedback for long term improvement.
Remember, a college coach is probably not going to look at your UTR results when you are 11 or 12. They are looking at your last 30 results only and more importantly, your attitude, coachability, team spirit and commitment to long term improvement.
The UTR matches you’re playing now are for experience, for feedback, for learning, for fun, for challenges and for the added stress which will take you one step closer to an ideal performance state needed in tournaments.
UTR Myth Busters
Here is a useful link that busts some of the myths on UTR. Click here to learn more.
Please do read this carefully because it’s clear that the algorithm is not only complex but also dynamic.
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