This is the question: is a 65-year-old 4.5 tennis player the same as a 35-year-old 4.5 player?
According to one tennis website, their answer is:
Q. How does age enter into the NTRP ratings?
A. The NTRP is not based on age divisions. All players of the same gender, regardless of age, should be used as reference points in determining player ratings. After choosing a rating, players should ask themselves: “Can I play competitively against any age player of my gender who is rated at the same level that I have rated myself?”
According to our local USTA rep, age only accounts for a .1 difference in someoneâ€™s ranking!
The weakness in the rating system is that it only deals with stroke skill and mental abilities (see the 4.5 description below). But two critical factors it does NOT consider are: foot speed and conditioning â€“ both of which can become accentuated as the age difference between opponents increases.
But even putting age aside for a second, if you put two “4.5 level players” on a singles court, and one is fast and in great shape â€“ while the other is 30 pounds overweight and wonâ€™t last more than one good set. They are NOT equal.
While there are surely age-exceptions (e.g. Martina Navratilova), no matter how good a shape a 65-year-old thinks he is (me included), put him on the court with a 4.5, 35-year-old who is in reasonable shapeâ€¦ stroke for stroke they may be equal; but the younger guy will get to more balls, will get there in more time to better set-up for the shot, and will last longer.
So, I think the rating system needs to take speed and conditioning into the rating and/or there has to be an age distinction that â€œdiscountsâ€ the seniorâ€™s ranking.
- FOREHAND: Very dependable; uses speed and spin effectively; controls depth well; tends to overhit on difficult shots; offensive on moderate shots
- BACKHAND: Can control direction and depth but may break down under pressure; can hit power on moderate shots
- SERVE/RETURN OF SERVE: Aggressive serving with limited double faults; uses power and spin; developing offense; on second serve frequently hits with good depth and placement; frequently hits aggressive service returns; can take pace off with moderate success in doubles
- VOLLEY: Can handle a mixed sequence of volleys; good footwork; has depth and directional control on BH; developing touch; most common error is still overhitting
- SPECIAL SHOTS: Approach shots hit with good depth and control; can consistently hit volleys and overheads to end the point; frequently hits aggressive service returns
- PLAYING STYLE: More intentional variety in game; is hitting with more pace; covers up weaknesses well; beginning to vary game plan according to opponent; aggressive net play is common in doubles; good anticipation; beginning to handle pace