Frequently Asked Questions - Rankings
Many players ask us questions about our website and rankings. The
answers to 95% of these questions are listed here. If you do not see
the answer to your question, please send us an email or contact us.
What rankings are available at TennisRecruiting.net?
TennisRecruiting.net puts out two sets of rankings for boys and girls
each week: the College Recruiting Lists and the TennisRPI.
What are the College Recruiting Lists?
Take a look at the College
Recruiting List description.
What is the TennisRPI?
Read the About the TennisRPI Lists
Why does TennisRecruiting.net show both Recruiting Lists and
The two ranking systems are very different. They measure different
criteria, and we believe both criteria are interesting.
The College Recruiting Lists use a system that we have spent years
refining, and we believe that it is an excellent measure of which
players are currently playing the best tennis. This ranking system is
the same widely-accepted system that has been used by college coaches
since March 2004.
The TennisRPI is modeled on the well-known Ratings Percentage Index
(RPI) algorithm that is "the gold standard" of college athletics. The
RPI is used by the NCAA Selection Committee for choosing teams for the
NCAA Tournament in College Basketball, and RPI calculations are used
in college football, baseball, softball, and other sports.
Both of these ranking systems are interesting, and so we provide
both lists at TennisRecruiting.net.
How are the TennisRecruiting.net rankings different from those
put out by the USTA and ITF?
There are two important differences between the
TennisRecruiting.net rankings and those put out at other websites: (1)
head-to-head rankings and (2) class rankings.
The TennisRecruiting.net rankings use a head-to-head system,
while the USTA rankings use a points system. In a head-to-head
system, your ranking is based solely on the quality of your opponents,
regardless of which tournament or what round you played them. In a
points system, each tournament is assigned a point value, and points
are earned for each round you reach in a tournament, regardless of the
quality of your opponent.
The TennisRecruiting.net lists are the only U.S. rankings broken
down by graduation year rather than by age. Such a breakdown
is important since colleges recruit based on graduation year - and
many players play out of their natural age division.
How are the TennisRecruiting.net rankings different from the
Universal Tennis Ratings (UTRs) put out by Universal Tennis?
Univeral Tennis Ratings
(UTR) are rating numbers between 1 and 16 assigned to tennis players
to provide objective measures of their level of play. Higher UTRs
indicate a higher level of play, with a small number of
elite professional men having UTRs of 16.5 and the newest beginners
having UTRs of 1.0.
The College Recruiting Lists (CRLs) and UTRs are similar in that
both are powerful and accurate head-to-head systems that first assign
ratings to all players in the population.
The UTRs are different in that more matches are used for the ratings -
and that the rating values are displayed and are intended to have
The CLRs are different in that a subset of highly-connected matches
at the international, national, and sectional levels are used for the
ratings - and then the list is filtered to create rankings for each
How do I improve my rankings?
Simply put, the two things you can do to improve your ranking are
to play tournaments often and play competitive opponents.
Wins over players ranked above you help you considerably.
Losses to players ranked considerably higher than you and wins over
players ranked considerably lower than you will not contribute much to
your ranking, so there is little advantage to racking up a large
number of wins in tournaments with players that don't match your
ability. Similarly, a bad draw where you lose to a seeded player much
better than you is not likely to penalize you.
I beat a 5-Star opponent last week. How much will that help my ranking?
Even though most players and parents who call us quote the "star"
ratings of players that they have played, these are not taken
into account when the ranking is calculated. The "star" ratings are
labels assigned to players twice a year based on their rankings in
their class at the time. The ranking program itself has no idea what
the "star" rating of a player is. It also has no idea what graduation
class a player is in - or how hold a player is. It does not consider
whether a player sustained an injury during a match. It does not care
in what round (main draw or back draw) a match was played. It does
not care what tournament a match was played. None of these things are
considered by the ranking algorithm. The only things
considered when calculating the College Recruiting Lists are (a) did
the player win or lose, (b) was the match played in the previous 52
weeks, and (c) the quality of the opponent.
By "quality of the opponent", we do not mean the "star" rating or
even the numeric ranking within a class. Our system produces Power
Ratings for each player - which is an intrinsic measure of a
player's quality. These Power Ratings are comparable across
graduation classes and "star" rating levels. One interesting
characteristic of Power Ratings is that they can be compared to
come up with an expected winning percentage when two players meet on
the tennis court (e.g. Player A has a 59% chance of winning and Player
B has a 41% chance of winning).
My daughter is 7-2 against 4-Star opponents, but she is ranked
lower than another girl who is only 3-3 against 4 Stars. Why?
Four Star recruits are not interchangable. The 4 star label is just
a coarse ranking that 125 kids in each graduation year share. A player
ranked No. 76 and a player ranked No. 200 in a single class may both
be tabbed as 4-Star recruits.
Compounding the issue is that there are 4 Star recruits for
every class. Note that many 4-Star seniors would be rated as
5-Star or Blue Chip recruits if they were placed in younger classes.
As a thought experiment, consider that the 7-2 record in the
example above might be against freshmen who are ranked in the 150-200
range - while the 3-3 record might all come against seniors in the Top
100. The 3-3 record might be much more impressive than the 7-2
I noticed a boy with a very short record that is ranked high on
your website. Does your system reward players with short
We do not reward or penalize players for long or short records.
All that matters is the quality of your opponents and whether you win
or lose. Losing to much weaker opponents or defeating much stronger
opponents will have a bigger impact on your Power Rating - and thus
your ranking - than losing to stronger opponents or defeating weaker
What tournaments should I play in to improve my ranking?
Our ranking system has several basic properties:
- Our rankings are based on Power Ratings, and the Power Ratings
lead to expected outcomes for each player in each tournament based on
past play. Going forward, players whose actual performances exceeds
their expected outcomes will see their Power Ratings - and rankings -
pulled up accordingly.
- Winning always helps your ranking,
- Wins over players rated far below you may not lift your ranking
very much - although those wins can prevent your ranking from going
- Wins over players rated close to or above you will lift your
- Similar statements can be made for losses as for wins - all losses
pull you down some, but losses to players rated higher than you will
not hurt much.
So, which tournaments should you play? We typically recommend that
players compete in tournaments that provide a balance of (1) good
competition while (2) not being outclassed. Wins against "good"
competition will earn more credit in our ranking system than wins over
weaker opponent. Playing against tougher opponents ranked high above
you can help if you win - but losses to strong opponents will not help
your ranking in our system.
In general, try to identify the strongest level of tournament where
you can reasonably expect to win at least a couple matches.
What is so important about ranking by graduating class?
Rankings by graduation year are important to college coaches.
Colleges recruit based on graduation year, and age-based rankings -
particularly two-year rankings like 18 & Under and 16 & Under - are too
coarse for college coaches.
My son skipped a grade. Aren't your rankings penalizing him since he is ranked against older kids?
As mentioned above, Tennis Recruiting ranks by graduation year -
there is no age component to our rankings. Why do we do this? Because
for college tennis team roster spots and scholarships, kids are
competing with other kids in their grade - independent of their ages.
If a child who skips a grade decides to play college tennis, that
child will have to "beat out" older kids for consideration.
There are many people who feel that our system should rank by age
rather than by graduation year - or that we should have some age-based
component to our rankings. To those people, we consistently state that
there are many, many ranking systems that use age alone. Our system
has different goals - and you are free to choose from other ranking
systems depending on your own goals and situation.
I play tournaments in both the 18 & Under and 16 & Under age divisions.
Which tournaments will count towards my College Recruiting List and TennisRPI
We include all tournament results in all age divisions when
calculating rankings. It makes sense to use all data in the ranking
calculations since there is a great deal of play between age levels.
In fact, we think that our rankings are superior because we use so
Why should my 16 & Under matches count for my 18 & Under
Again, we are not ranking in age divisions - but rather by
graduating class. Tennis is a sport where there is a great deal of
play between players of different age levels and skill levels. With
so much cross-play, there is enough "connectivity" between different
players to use that data to produce better rankings. We believe that
the information from these matches is important to produce the
Which tournaments will be used in the TennisRecruiting.net
Tournaments that count are in 7 groups:
- ITF grade A,1,2,3 plus any ITF tournament played in the USA.*
- USTA National Schedule tournaments.*
- All tournaments in the National Showcase Series.
- Sectional tournaments that are designated to count for USTA National rankings (12 per section).
- Historically strong tournaments where in the previous year over 60% of the players are National Players. We currently do not have a published list of these, but this is on our list of future additions to the site.
- Dynamically determined events in tournaments where at least 20% of the players in the event are National Players.
- All ITF junior tournaments.
We term a National Player as any player that has earned a
win in at least one of our group 2, group 3, group 4, or group 5
events in the 12 months preceding the tournament in question. (See
the next FAQ question for more information on National Players.)
You can determine ahead of time if a tournament is in groups 1-4,
but group 6 tournaments, which are the bulk of them, are determined
after the tournaments are played.
* For results to be entered into our database on
TennisRecruiting.net, we require that the published Competitor List
include the complete name of the player, the city, state or country of
residence and an identifying player number (either USTA or IPIN).
Tournaments that do not list this information will be excluded from
entry into our national ranking database.
What do you mean by National Player? Is being a National Player
A National Player is a USTA junior who has participated in
and has at least one win in a tournament in groups 2, 3, 4, or 5
above. (See previous FAQ question.) The concept of a National Player
is important for a head-to-head recruiting system like those employed
at Tennis Recruiting - National Players provide a measure for
National Players are used to determine which tournaments go into
groups 5 and 6 in future years. Tournaments in group 5 have a
significant number of National Players (i.e., greater than 60%), while
events for tournaments in group 6 will only be included if the
percentage of National Players is at least 20%.
I see a problem with my player record. How do I fix it?
All corrections or additions to player records for
TennisRecruiting.net rankings should be e-mailed to our
I noticed several kids who have incorrect graduation years.
There are many players for whom we do not have confirmed graduation
years, and so we have estimated the graduation year for some players.
These players are flagged as having "provisional" graduation years on
Players or their parents can update their graduation years by
registering for a free account and then updating their class. If you
see someone with an incorrect graduation year, encourage them to
If "more data is better", then why don't you simply use all
match results from all junior tournaments?
It sounds like a good idea to include all tournaments, but using
all tournament data in a head-to-head system is a mistake that many
people (including us!) have made in the past.
An important considerations when doing a head-to-head ranking is
how "well connected" the players are. Head-to-head rankings are
excellent when players have a lot of matches against the competition.
But things can break down when there are subsets with no
For example, a head-to-head system cannot objectively compare:
- Player A who reaches the semifinals in several super-national
- Player B who is undefeated - but only competes in local
While Player A is almost certainly better, there is no data the
ranking system can use to differentiate the tournaments without
classifying the tournaments. By restricting the set of tournaments we
use to ensure good connectivity, this case never comes up.
For these reasons, we restrict the tournaments considered to large
national, sectional, and district tournaments where we expect the
players will be well-connected.
Why am I not showing up on the TennisRecruiting.net rank
To be eligible for a ranking, a player must compete in at least
three tournaments during the previous twelve months with wins over at
least three matches over ranked players.
I did not play a single match last week. So why did my ranking
change in the latest list?
There are two reasons such a change might happen:
- All players’ records are evaluated for each list publication.
Although you may not have competed, other players did, and all this
data is now a part of the overall ranking data. Consequently, players
whom you have played moved up or down, and you may have also.
- Only data from the past 12 months counts. All players - including
you - had a week of old data drop off their player records.
What is the Hot 100?
Check out the Hot 100
How are defaults, withdrawals, walkovers, and retirements handled in the ranking system?
A default, withdrawal, or walkover where there is no score should
be recorded on the player record with an asterisk (*) attached. This
means that these matches do not count in the TennisRecruiting.net
ranking system. If you see a "Def," a "Wd," or a "Wo" recorded on the
player record and there is not an asterisk attached, this is a mistake
and you should notify
If a match has started and retirement (Ret) or default (Def) is
affixed to the score, then these matches do count for ranking - except
when it is a 15-0 retirement or a 1-0 retirement required by the
section or district to avoid penalty points or to qualify for further