Benchmark Player Ratings - (how are they determined?)

BENCHMARK PLAYER RATINGS (how are they determined?)
By: Bob Greene USPTA, USTA Certified Verifier & Chairman of USTA NTRP Computer Sub-Committee

If you are reading this document, then you are probably a recreational tennis player who participates either in the USA Leagues Tennis Program, USTA Sanctioned NTRP Tournaments or other program audited and regulated by the NTRP.

It may interest you to know that your tennis rating is one of over 200,000 assigned to over 350,000 program participants across America each year. You are an important part of a very big picture. While to some the formulations of ratings may seem a mystery, the following information will help you to understand where all those numbers come from. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions:


Factors which influence your ratings are the "Benchmark Player Ratings" and subsequent match result comparative analysis made by the NTRP Computer Program.

Simply put, the NTRP Computer Program algorithm compares and cross-references all match results in any given file. In a 4.0 file, based on a one match comparison, if a singles player (or doubles team player) "A" has a benchmark rating of 4.0 and he/she defeats player "B" 7-5, 6-4, the difference is registered as approximately a tenth of an NTRP point per service break or in this case approximately .16. That would generate a computer rating of 3.84 for player (or doubles team) "B" based on that one match.

The NTRP Computer, however takes that simple formula many steps further and compares all match results in the file against the benchmarked and all other players as well. Some large files contain more than a thousand players and thousands of match results.

As the computer runs through ten complete "iterations" in each file calculation, it refines a players rating to hundredths of a point as player "B"s rating is shown above. The computer does not directly care about a player's win/loss record. A player can lose many or all matches during a season and their performance in the opinion of the computer, can generate a rating close to their opponents if the individual match results were close. They may still get moved up to another level.

If a player gets beaten badly with several lopsided set scores resulting, then they stand a good chance of being moved to a lower level of play. Conversely, if a player wins big frequently, they too can be moved up or in the worst case scenario, be disqualified at that level of play. The NTRP Computer is designed as a tool for generating ratings and will not move players from level to level indiscriminately.

Ratings are published seasonally at level. If you have a true median rating of 4.4 at benchmark assignment time, you rating will be published as a 4.5 level. There are five micro levels (tenths) within each level of the NTRP for purposes of assigning benchmarks in USA League Play and Tournament files.


There is developed methodology applied by the USTA Verifiers at all tiers of Championship play and benchmark assignment. What follows is a description of the process at a USA Leagues National Championship Event. This process is repeated at each Sectional, Regional, District and State tier and subsequently down to the generation of ratings in every local league and tournament file:

Annually each Section of the USTA will send up to twenty teams at all levels and genders to USA League National Championship Events. Those teams will play against each other in four flights of four or five teams in each flight. The draw is done at random. One event may be Florida, Texas, New England and Hawaii ... the next Eastern, Southern, Midwest and Northern California.

Before and during these matches, no less than four of the most experienced NTRP Verifiers from different areas of the country will research the players match result history, multi-year rating history and player profile information. They will then observe the players competing against several different teams over a period of three days. All match results are entered into the NTRP Computer during the events.

The Verifiers are observing and are more specifically looking for lopsided match results, disparity of level between doubles partners and player improvement over the course of a season. The players who emerge from their respective flights to the semifinal and final rounds are given "absolute ratings". That rating is a number that is static for the purpose of comparison against other players.

These "Benchmark Ratings" are entered into the NTRP Computer and the computer program is run calculating ratings for all of the players who competed at the event. Although the NTRP Computer has an excellent track record of being correct, the National Verifiers makes a few adjustments based on reasons stated above. All of these players are National Benchmarks and their Ratings are deemed not changeable by regulation.

These National Benchmark Ratings are entered into the NTRP Computer and will filter down in each respective USTA Section and all players competing in NTRP audited and regulated venues will receive a rating if they played two or more matches. The primary goal and purpose of this methodology is to create and maintain uniformity in ratings on a nationwide basis. No matter what the picture appears to be from the bottom looking up, it is painted from the top down.


As mitigating measures to counteract occasional system faults and recognize debilitating player injuries, there are regulations published in the form of "NTRP Computer Procedures". Certified Verifiers and administrators have access to this material. Within these regulations are parameters defining NTRP program administration, benchmark assignment and the rating appeals process. This is all part of a system that checks and balances itself.

Rest assured that players who do file an appeal to change their ratings are initiating a process governed by something much more than the subjective nature of human decision. A player who has a rating based on two or three match results has more latitude for having an appeal granted than players who have played six or more matches. The more matches you play, the more accurate your rating is. In addition anyone who plays in USA League Tennis can be disqualified at any point during the local level of play. Experience has shown that the players do a pretty good job themselves of policing the ranks when necessary.

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