USTA Rankings Explained

trophyTwo subjects that tend to create a lot of questions, comments, and consternation among many senior tennis players are: USTA rankings and tournament seedings. With the tournament season approaching, I approached two experts in the field with some questions.

Today, we have some answers on rankings from veteran Larry Turville and in the next couple of days (just as the first tournament seedings come out), we will hear from Mark Taylor, USTA Florida/ Florida Cup Commissioner on “the science of seedings.”

Where is the best/easiest place to find a player’s USTA rankings?

• Got to
• click on Tennis Link drop down menu
• choose “USTA Adult/Senior Tournaments”
• for an individual’s ranking, put in their name or number
• for more options, select “Rankings advanced search”

When you do a lookup by national or section (i.e. Florida), there are MANY different types of rankings to search on. Which are the most relevant ones for seniors to search?

This gets a little more confusing, but there are Sectional rankings provided by the Sections and National rankings by USTA National (there are even State rankings in big Sections). There are often different ranking rules for Sectional and National rankings. (see later).

What is most relevant depends on what you are looking for… Often the top National players don’t play enough Sectional tournaments to get high rankings. So they generally reflect the best players in the Section willing to play the tournaments. (Note from George: for example in Florida, I am ranked #7 and Fred Drilling is ranked #28).

If you are a player wanting to know how good you are then starting at the Sectional level makes sense before spending money on Nationals.

When you look up an individual, there are literally dozens of different choices of types of rankings. Again, which are the most relevant ones for seniors to search?

Yes, there are many different types each for a different purpose. If the USTA did like the ITF they would need only one.

Ok, there are four option bars to select from 1) National, Section, District, 2) Year, 3) Division and 4) List Type. The first three options are pretty basic, the fourth can get confusing.

The best option is to not select any type and leave it as List All Types and then click on Find It! It then gives the actual ranking options that are available.

For the National ranking it usually gives you two choices , the rolling ranking and the standing list. The rolling ranking is the most accurate up until the end of the year when it becomes the same as the standing list. I don’t see why they even list the standing list as it is worthless until the end of the year. It is a cumulative ranking that starts are the beginning of the year. If you win the first tournament of the year you can claim you are #1! For doubles there are both Individual and Team rankings which is nice for the Individual who has different partners and does well.

One more ranking which shows up Nationally is the Seeding/selection list aka Age Up list which provides a rolling ranking that includes players that are aging up. I can’t explain why the Seeding/selection list is used instead of the Age Up list to provide for aging up players but that is the USTA. They only provide this ranking once in January. Don’t want to work too hard to provide it a few more months. Age uppers are a significant challenge in seedings. The ITF provides an asterisk next to age uppers which is quite helpful; this was too expensive an IT upgrade for the USTA (really).

So then there are the Sectional rankings. Florida, which I am most familiar with, has a rolling seeding list which includes both Florida and non-Florida residents. This is a pretty good reference for seeding the Super Senior Grand Prix tournaments as it mixes all the players together. Florida also has a standing list which is just for residents which shows who the best Florida players are.

How are the rankings (National or sectional) determined? Is it by ALL results during the year or only some of the tournaments?

In Florida they count your best five tournaments and only count two tournaments outside of Florida which must be Cat I or II Nationals. New England I think used the Star program or even in does it manually still (most accurate). Nationally, the best four are counted of all your tournaments.

As I mentioned Sections vary greatly as to the method they use for ranking. They are free to make their own process. I was involved in changing the National from a manual highly subjective (although often more accurate) method to a points per round method. It is a “best of” method which has evolved from six to using results of the best four tournaments.

There are some who argue that more tournaments should count vs those who say that favors those who can afford to play more. Perhaps for 60 and over, five or six would be ok. When Florida first came out with the Points per round they selected the unlimited option. As a result those who could play ten or more tournaments being ranked at the top.

Thanks to Larry for all this information. Other questions?

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3 thoughts on “USTA Rankings Explained

  1. I have a related question for Larry and/or Mark please.
    Why does the USTA Florida Section only have 3 Senior tournaments that award Sectional points (200)? Texas has 7 Senior tournaments annually that award Sectional points (200). Eastern Section has 7. Southern has 5. In 2015, in addition to the USTA Florida Closed Championships, which every Section has (a closed Sectional Championship), Florida had only 2 of our Designated tournaments classified to award 200 points. Those were the Helen Drake Invitational (even years) in April and the Turkey Bowl Tennis Championships (odd years) in December. It would appear to be a disadvantage to Florida players in the national rankings to have far less Sectional points opportunities. Top 20 players are probably not affected as much since they tend to use all Category I and II results for their 4 best national points results.

    Is there a maximum # of 200 point tournaments a Section can classify and is that number 7 like Texas and Eastern do? Since Florida’s SSGP draws are so large and strong, compared to other Sections, it seems like Florida should classify as many tournaments as possible as Sectional (200 point) tournaments. Since there is a “regulator” that you can only use 1 Sectional result in your top 4 national results, there appears to be no downside of “points abuse” to having more Sectional classifications in Florida. Perhaps there are nuances in the Sectional points system that I’m unaware of.

  2. Bob, good question and shows you know your stuff. The original intent of USTA National was to recognize results from Sectional championships more than locals. It was thought that all had only two and Open & Closed. However, when sections realized if they had more than two they would also count some added more and Texas as you say has even 7. So then the restriction was put in to count only one, but I think it is your best one. In FL all designated tournaments count 200 for sectional ranking, but as you say only the Closed and one or two others count towards National. There is room for debate, but I think the logic is to limit the sectionals that would count so that more importance is put on those tournaments and perhaps in turn more players will enter. I lean towards that thinking in that the results then become more accurate compared to having a bunch of sectionals. For the record I tried to get the USTA to recognize one sectional even if it was closed from each section and give it a 300 point status so that more players would play the Sectional Championship. No interest. Hope this answers your questions and perhaps if you feel strongly that there should be more sectionals write to Mark Taylor who has power to do that.

    Larry, thanks! George

  3. Another thought with a 200 point tournament vs a 400 point tournament in Texas if you win one round in a 400 point tournament it’s almost as good as winning the whole 200 point tournament. Lol

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