Wednesday, August 28, 2019

What's your Universal Tennis Rating?

Kristianne Bontempo | Towpath Tennis Contributor

Do you know what your Universal Tennis Rating is? You might already have a Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) and just not know it! EVERY tennis player can have a UTR. Whether you’re a league player, recreational, junior, college player, or a tennis pro playing the circuit, UTR is available for everyone and will provide the most accurate measurement of a player’s true skill level. Sooo what is it? How do I look up my UTR? How does it work? Also, because I’m sure for those USTA players out there you might be thinking, I have a USTA rating so why would I want to know my UTR? 

Because its universal. Because its affordable. Because it can accurately match up players more competitively. UTR embraces and rates every type of player out there, not just those with a USTA membership. So you can now accurately compare your skills across the globe with those at any age, experience-level and gender. 

Unlike the USTA that uses a rating scale of 1.0-beginner to 7.0-advanced to gauge your playing level, UTR has a rating scale of 1.00 to 16.50. Why the big scale? Because there is a wide variety of players out there! You have your beginners, intermediate players (recreation/league players fall anywhere from 2.00-5.00 on average), high school players, tournament players, collegiate players (typical range is 9.00-13.00), and top-professionals (Roger Federer has a 16.14 UTR) all being rated along one scale. If you’ve played any sanctioned tournaments or are in any adult leagues such as the USTA, then you may already have a UTR and can simply claim your profile by searching for your name. If you’re brand-spanking new to competitive tennis, you get rated by posting a score from a casual hit or by playing recreational matches and poof, you have a UTR! Your UTR will become more reliable after approximately 5 matches, and then will continually update after each subsequent match.

The goal of @MyUTR is both simple and ambitious: measure every player’s ability along one scale.

So how does it work after you get rated? UTR calculates down to the 1/100 of a point and lets you know exactly where you stand by being super transparent with letting you know how its algorithm works. The UTR algorithm calculates your match rating and the match weight and averages the matches you've played to come up with a player’s UTR. What this means is it looks at the match rating (numeric level) and calculates based on how you perform vs. the expectation of the match. So if you're expected to win a close match against an opponent but end up dominating 6-1, 6-1, then your match rating goes up. Even if you are expected to lose, but then end up having a closer match than what was expected, your UTR will go up. Look at it as a win even though you didn't technically win! 

The match weight is actually pretty interesting because matches are weighed heavier on numerous accounts, such as playing an opponent that is closer in numeric rating than somebody 2 points above/below you, playing someone with a more reliable UTR which means they play often, and playing longer matches. A match format that is best of 2/3 sets has more weight than a match with a 3rd set tiebreak. So after looking at both your match rating and weight then voila! you get your new calculated UTR. Also, everything is in real-time. The system updates your rating after every match played (with the exclusion of mixed) within the last 12 months. That includes verified/sanctioned matches and tournaments or just a casual match at the park. 

Here’s my takeaway:  As a newbie to the UTR system I like it. It’s easy to get started, simple to track, and I like that it tracks your progress real-time. Yes, the USTA system is one of the best rating systems out there, because really what else was there to compare to before? The problem I see with tracking a player's level solely on the USTA rating system is we’ve become accustomed and groomed to compete based off of how we think it will affect our rating vs. going out there and competing to the best to our ability. Also, for some players I feel like it has become more of a status symbol. I’ve seen groups of friends break up based on ‘moving up or down’ in the world of USTA league tennis.  And that is why tracking your UTR instead can be so refreshing. We don't have to have this win or die mentality or that we have to "protect" our rating for whatever reason, but rather go out and compete often and win as many games as possible, because at the end of the day that is what makes you a better competitor.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Are you ready for a change?

Barbara Youel | Towpath Member Author of "First Serve", a plant-based cookbook with a tennis theme

The Game Changers in theaters 
Monday, September 16, 2019.
August, 2019.  It’s the annual summer break from scheduled tennis drills and matches. For me, it’s a time to take stock of my fitness, both mental and physical. The first of January may be the traditional day for resolutions, but I never feel moved to much action in the dead of winter. August, on the other hand, is a time of promise and anticipation of cooler temps and less humidity, the autumn holidays, (especially Thanksgiving), and a kind of positive energy that creates my kind of momentum. Fall Interclub and USTA leagues are just around the corner as well as chances to be more intentional and motivated during weekly drills at Towpath.

For a different kind of powerful motivator, you can also mark your calendars for the Monday, September 16 public release of the documentary, The Game Changers. I had the chance to see this in June at an Engine 2 Immersion event and highly recommend it if you are interested in improving your fitness for life, both on and off the courts. 

Executive producers James Cameron (Titanic), Arnold Schwarzenegger, Novak Djokovic, Lewis Hamilton, Chris Paul, Rip Esselstyn and others headline the big names behind this film. I was glad to see that my favorite doctor, Michael Greger MD (author of “How Not to Die”), is the film’s scientific advisor. An excellent choice in my book!

Some of the team behind the highly-anticipated vegan documentary, 
The Game Changers. (Photo: Plant Based News)
This documentary follows the training and successes of various elite athletes who excel in tennis, weightlifting, bodybuilding, trail running, cycling, football, auto racing and more. To what do they owe their success? PLANTS! Not only have whole plant-based foods enhanced their performances, their recovery times have markedly improved too. Now, before you think that this is not for you – we are amateur club players, not professionals traveling the world with a nutritionist, physical therapist, hitting partner and coach – think again. The Game Changers is a fast-paced 88 minutes all focused on dispelling the myth that animal products are the key for athletic success. It’s for you and it’s for me and for all who want to be fit, active, perhaps pain-free and disease-free and oh yes, happy! See you at the movies!

(Towpath Tennis Member, Barb Youel, is the author of "First Serve: 40 Delicious Plant-Based Recipes for a Year of Tennis Grand Slams & Club Matches", Lean Green Living LLC, 2017. Copies are available exclusively at Towpath Tennis Center for $16.95. You can order yours today at 330-928-8763 or stop in The Shop for your copy today.)