UTR Rating Basics and How It Works

UTR Rating Basics and How It Works

8 min read

While tennis’ international nature has often been celebrated, our sport always lacked a unified rating system until Universal Tennis came along with the UTR Rating. We're outlining the UTR Rating basics below.

Professionals had ATP/WTA rankings, but what about 99.9% of tennis players around the world? Because of this lack of a worldwide rating system, tennis enthusiasts of all ages from recreational to college players had no idea where they fit on a global scale. By comparison, golf had a handicap system where just by knowing a player’s handicap, you could know their level.

What is UTR Rating?

UTR Rating is a system created by Universal Tennis that promotes fair and competitive play across the tennis world. All players, regardless of age, gender, geography, or skill level, are rated on the same scale between 1.00 and 16.50 based on actual match results. Since UTR Rating provides a real-time view of a player’s true skill level, having a UTR Rating enables you to track your progress, find level-based play, and expand your tennis network to play with more people regardless of age and gender. Check out our UTR Rating FAQs.


How Did UTR Rating Start?

The brainchild of tennis pros who wanted to prevent lopsided matches, Universal Tennis had humble beginnings in the mid-2000s. As the concept expanded, Universal Tennis realized that by building a system that would stop unbalanced matches, they were actually developing something more powerful: a truly global rating system, capable of accurately rating players based upon their actual match results—regardless of if they were recreational players or professionals.

What is the UTR Rating Ethos?

Tennis has sometimes been thought of as an elitist sport—with expensive coaching, equipment, and financially draining junior tours around the world. The path to playing tennis, therefore, has at times been limited to only those who have the resources to pay for coaching and travel to tournaments that offer ranking points.

Universal Tennis hopes to remedy this by including more matches that count towards a player’s rating. If an athlete does not have the socio-economic status to travel to tournaments nationally and internationally, they need not fret that they don’t have a pathway towards recognition of their skill level. Your UTR Rating is calculated based upon whom you play as opposed to how many tournaments you’ve been able to travel to and win points in. That’s why “Play locally, count globally” is a phrase that we like to use often.

Your UTR Rating is calculated based upon whom you play as opposed to how many tournaments you’ve been able to travel to and win points in. That’s why “Play locally, count globally” is a phrase that we like to use often.

Universal Tennis' main goal, however, is to break down tennis silos and encourage level-based play among tennis players all over the world. Traditionally, tennis has adopted a system of competition that groups competitors together based on their age and gender. With UTR Rating providing the first, truly accurate level-based rating system, players of all ages, genders, and socio-economic backgrounds can compete against each other knowing that they will likely receive quality matchplay experience.

Who Has a UTR Rating?

Every player can have a UTR Rating. If you’ve played in tournaments and leagues recently, chances are that a profile has already been made for you. You just need to activate it. If you’ve never played a competitive match but would like to start with Universal Tennis, you can create a profile here.

Learn more with this explanation of UTR Rating basics.

Verified UTR Rating vs UTR Rating

All your results will count towards your UTR Rating. However, only official matches will count towards your Verified UTR Rating. Matches that are self-reported/social will not count towards your Verified UTR Rating. UniversalTennis.com and the Universal Tennis app take in scores from all across the globe — click here to see which ones count for Verified UTR Rating vs UTR Rating.

For example, if you were to play in a Universal Tennis Flex League, USTA League, or in a sanctioned tournament, your results would count towards your Verified UTR Rating.

If you were to play your friend in a match and self-report the score, your result would not count towards your Verified UTR Rating.

How is UTR Rating Calculated?

Your UTR Rating is calculated by an algorithm that uses your last 30 eligible matches in the past 12 months. If you’re not a frequent competitor, you can still have a reliable UTR Rating; our platform can accurately assess your level based upon approximately five Verified UTR Rating matches.

For each of your eligible matches, our algorithm calculates a Match Rating and a Match Weight. Your UTR Rating is the weighted average of all your Match Ratings.

Match Rating

Every match has an expected outcome, and your UTR Rating will go up or down based on the actual outcome compared to the expected outcome. Let’s say you play an opponent who has a higher rating than you. The algorithm might expect you to lose 6–2, 6–2. If you lose the match 6–4, 6–4, then your rating will go up because you have performed better than the algorithm expected. Click here for an in-depth explanation of how Match Rating is calculated.

Every match has an expected outcome, and your UTR Rating will go up or down based on the actual outcome compared to the expected outcome.

Match Weight

Match Weight is calculated based on Format, Competitiveness, Reliability, and Time Degradation. Format refers to the length of the match. The result of a best-of-five-sets match will have more weight than the result from a pro set. Competitiveness refers to the difference between player UTR Ratings, the larger the discrepancy, the less weight is given to the result. Reliability refers to your opponent’s UTR Rating. A match played against an opponent who competes often receives more weight as their UTR Rating is more reliable. Finally, Time Degradation: as a match gets older, less weight is given to it as your UTR Rating is supposed to be a representation of your current form.

Click here for an in-depth explanation of how Match Weight is calculated.

What is the Best Way to Improve My UTR Rating?

Since your UTR Rating is dependent upon your performance and score, the best way to improve your rating is to compete hard for every game. It doesn’t matter who you play, or even if the match seems to be slipping out of hand. By winning as many games as possible, and by trying to limit how many your opponent wins, you have the opportunity to increase your UTR Rating.

Playing plenty of matches will also help. The more you compete, the quicker your UTR Rating will reflect your current form. Be patient, though. Given that your UTR Rating is a rolling weighted average, there can be a lag in how quickly the number is updated. Your rating may not reflect a recent outcome straight away, but it will become accurate over time.

Benefits of a Universal Tennis Power Subscription

Have you enjoyed understanding UTR Rating basics? Every player can access their UTR Rating for free by creating a profile through our platform.

If you want even more features from the Universal Tennis platform, you can try our Power Subscription. As well as receiving priority customer support and $10 off entry fees to all Universal Tennis Verified events, Power Subscribers gain access to a host of additional features.

The most alluring aspect of a Power Subscription is the advanced statistics it offers. This includes longest win streaks, Three-Month Trending UTR Rating, Results Analysis, and Rating History of every player on the platform—including yourself.

By accessing these statistics, you have a way of quantifying your progress through data-driven means and can also keep track of players you might know.

  • Understanding UTR Rating basics will help your tennis experience.

A Power Subscription also grants you access to Universal Tennis College Fit—a powerful tool aspiring college athletes can use to find the right college team for themselves. College Fit allows you to enter your UTR Rating, select where you’d like to play in a lineup, where you’d like to be geographically, and then see which school’s roster you could potentially fit into. Other innovative features include Power 6, devised by Universal Tennis to calculate how a college/university ranks in a conference and nationally.

A Universal Tennis Power Subscription offers many features that will help you to improve your game.

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