UTR also helps coaches evaluate an athlete’s competitiveness, since “you can’t go by just a video of them hitting balls,” Kuhle says. “With UTR, you’ll look at a kid’s results and see that she beat an 11.5 player, say. You get a better sense of her competitiveness.” “Rankings are a starting point,” Kuhle notes, “but often, rankings don’t reflect anything except that they’ve played a lot of tournaments and spent a lot of money. The older generation grew up when rankings were big. Pick up a USTA yearbook from 1970. It’s a thick book: it’s got rankings for every age group, in every section of the United States. Working with these rankings for so many years trains you in a particular mindset. “Now, people are totally talking about ratings,” she continues. “ “She lost to a 9.’ ‘He beat a kid who is a 12.’ That’s the language parents and coaches use now.” Kuhle also finds many advantages in the ITA Summer Circuit Powered by UTR, whose entrants are about 70 percent college players, or ones who are entering college. “It provides opportunities for everybody over age 18 to have competition in the summer,” she says. “It once was that if you were older than 18 and wanted to play pro-level tennis in the summer, you had nowhere to compete. The ITA started the Summer Circuit in the ‘90s. You can play a weekend event, and with UTR organizing the draws, get four or five good matches in three days, and then go home. You don’t want to waste time: you’re trying to get better and to do it efficiently. With level-based play, you’ll get three or four good quality matches. “Maybe you are going to Wellesley, but are interning in Houston for the summer,” Kuhle continues. “You can play there—pick up three or four tournaments in five weeks’ time, both singles and doubles. Entry fees are affordable, only $60. I’m a big proponent of level-based play. Nobody wants to play love-and-love matches.” Join the worldwide trend toward ratings. Sign up for UTR, free, here.ITA Summer Circuit Booms in 2017: Juniors and collegians show big spike in turnout for events.
“If you’re a college coach recruiting swimmers, you’ve got lap times. In golf, you’ve got handicaps,” says Betsy Kuhle (pronounced “Q-elle”), who recently retired as head women’s tennis coach for Western Michigan University. “But in tennis, unless you are watching them all the time, one of the biggest challenges is evaluating players. Someone would say to me, ‘I’ve got an international player, she’s really good, and will be in Detroit over the winter.’ Well, her ranking with blue stars isn’t very accurate. UTR Universal Tennis Rating> is pretty accurate.” Kuhle, who is a member of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s (ITA) board of directors, also chairs the ITA Summer Circuit Powered by UTR. “UTR took a little bit of the ‘arms race’ out of recruiting,” she explains. “Suppose you have a $100,000 recruiting budget, but mine is $5,000. UTR can help me even things up a bit, because it means I don’t have to spend as much of my budget on travel. Let’s say there’s a women’s coach who has a kid with a UTR of 12.20. Well, based on my program, I might know that I’m probably not going to get that kid. So I won’t spend my time there, and can use my budget more efficiently.”