Understanding the USTA rankings can be confusing, so thanks to Larry Turville, here are the basics.
There are two overall rankings: the National and the Sectional.
In the Florida section we have two rankings:
1) The seedings list which includes all players in and out of Florida and is very helpful as a starting place for seeding.
2) The tentative ranking is just for Florida players only and at the end of the year becomes the final ranking for the Florida Section.
For the National ranking there are also two basic ranking types:
1) The rolling ranking is updated almost weekly and includes the past 12 months results and
2) The tentative ranking only includes results from January forward (same as Florida).
The National ranking includes two doubles rankings (individual and team) while the Florida only has team .
Ok, the differences between the two rankings:
Both use a “best of” points per round system with the difference is that Florida has 5 as the number of tournaments that count (4 for doubles) and National has 4. In the best of system you are rewarded for playing more tournaments than the max number that count in that if you have a better tournament that replaces a weaker one.
Florida, in order to encourage play in Florida only, two National events count in its ranking and in its final Florida ranking those National tournaments must be in Florida (there are three Cat II events in FL).
A Little History
Rankings used to be done by human rankers (I did the 80’s div.) and although there was a method to use there was a lot of room for human interpretation. Then at the end of the year there were always protests as there are now in tournament seeding.
So the answer was to go the way of the computer where there could be no protests and no need for human rankers. The choice was between a system called the “star system” (only understandable by the programmer) or the points per round system.
The “points per round” was easily understandable and players could check to make sure the points were correct. So that’s what we have now.
The problem is that tournaments vary too much in strength so sometimes players get large points for not really beating anyone. I originally proposed a bonus system that would reward a player based on the level of player he beat and would make the ranking more accurate but was turned down.
Points per round is probably not as accurate as a human ranker but it has its good points and has encouraged players to play more and there is no reason to now to not play. It’s always fun to see a good tournament be added and see your ranking go up.
So there you have it.
Member of USTA Adult Competition Com. and former Chairman of the FL ACC