Research conducted by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) of on court assessments published over the past 70 years have shown that rating systems are beneficial for the development of individual tennis players. Particularly for recreational players.
The studies have ITF believe that rating systems help motivate new and existing players to play better tennis and improve their game.
At the club level, knowing your own general tennis level lets you match up with players of similar level so you can play singles or doubles competitively. It is also possible to play a person with a higher level using handicap scoring to make the game less lop-sided and more interesting to play.
There are various rating systems around the world. France and Britain use the “classement” system while the USTA calls theirs the National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP). There is also a push from ITF for an International Number or ITN as a common rating language of the tennis world.
To know your ITN, you would have to be assessed by a coach familiar with the On Court Assessment procedure for about 10 minutes. There will be a scorer who will tally your points on a score sheet. In order to get a true ITN evaluation, a player should complete the On Court Assessment 3 times. The 3 scores are then averaged to produce your true ITN level.
Essentially, the depth and accuracy of your stroke yields a higher point. Bonus points are then awarded for balls that land in the power area. To measure consistency, an extra point is awarded for every shot that is not an error. In addition to assessing your groundstrokes (forehand FH and backhand BH), volleys, first and second serves, your mobility is also assessed.
The highest possible score (363-430 points for men) gives you an ITN 1 rating. The lowest score for men is from 75-104 points which gives you an ITN 10.
So how do you know your rating?
Without the above resources one would have to self-rate themselves. Here’s an abbreviated version of the guide endorsed by Tennis Canada:
Level 1.0 - just starting to play tennis
Level 1.5 – difficulty playing due to lack of consistency rallying and serving
Level 2.0 – gets the ball in play but lacks control
Level 2.5 – can rally 10 balls with FH consistently at moderate speed. 1st serve is under 50% in
Level 3.0 - can rally 10 balls with FH & BH consistently at moderate speed. 1st serve is over 50% in
Level 3.5 – can direct FH, BH, volleys, OH, 1st and 2nd serves with pace and consistency.
Level 4.0 – can vary speed and direction of all strokes while constructing point combinations
Level 4.5 – can vary spin, speed and direction of all strokes starts to develop a dominant shot
Level 5.0 – can rally 10 balls at fast speed with a dominant shot & steadily succeeds over 50% of points
Level 5.5 – has no major weaknesses. Good all court player with anticipation and tactical abilities
Level 6.0 - has obtained a provincial and/or national “open” ranking at the junior and collegiate level
Level 6.5 – has extensive international “open” tournament level (challenger or satellite) experience
Level 7.0 – is a world class professional tennis player
At the club lounge area, you’ll find a chart called self-rating guide. Find the level that best describes your general play. You might also want to ask a coach to validate your self-evaluation.
A good athlete always seeks to improve themselves. Be open to try something new. Learn to do it right. Practice, play and compete; and continue learning.