Improving the USTA Player Rating System

Everyone who plays league tennis follows the USTA league player rating system closely. It seems like everyone has an opinion of who should be rated what and how. I’m no different. Though I fall into the camp of believing that it works. I’ve played league tennis at the local, sectional, and national level and feel that the player ratings are mostly accurate. When you’re a 4.0 level player, you can have days where you play at the 3.0 level, or 4.5 level. At least I do.
Tennis player backhand volley
Anyway, it is accurate, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. In fact, I have a suggestion that I think most players would support. I propose that players have two ratings, a singles and a doubles rating.

Singles and Doubles

Singles and doubles are two very different games and player abilities do not necessarily translate from one to the other. I, for one, can hold my own in almost any 4.0 doubles match. I’d like to start trying some 4.5 doubles. In singles on the other hand, I’m a middle-of-the-pack 3.5 player. My game is simply built around the serve, return, and finishing the point. This is a tough strategy in singles.

Two Ratings

Having two ratings would allow players to play more tennis and give the league that much more depth. You could have players playing on multiple teams. With just a single rating, many players (including myself) may never see a singles match. I will always get put on a doubles court at 4.0 because I’d get mopped up on a singles court at 4.0. But if I was rated 4.0 at doubles and 3.5 at singles, I could play on two teams and improve both aspects of my game.

Another benefit would be leveling the playing field. Teams would have a more difficult time of “hiding” a ringer on the doubles court through the regular season only to unleash him or her at playoffs and dominate at singles. Granted, that would still occur, but would level out eventually.

It’s About Options

Bottom-line though is that singles and doubles are different types of tennis and should be rated as such. As the USTA gets more an more popular dual ratings might even become required as the number of teams can’t accomodate the number of players. This gives teams and players more options. And options are a good thing.