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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 page.


Why does TennisRecruiting.net show both Recruiting Lists and TennisRPI lists?

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 meaning.

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 graduation year.


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 record.


I noticed a boy with a very short record that is ranked high on your website. Does your system reward players with short records?

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 opponents.


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 down.
  • Wins over players rated close to or above you will lift your ranking.
  • 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 rankings?

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 much data.


Why should my 16 & Under matches count for my 18 & Under ranking?

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 best-possible rankings.


Which tournaments will be used in the TennisRecruiting.net ranking calculations?

Tournaments that count are in 7 groups:

  1. ITF grade A,1,2,3 plus any ITF tournament played in the USA.*
  2. USTA National Schedule tournaments.*
  3. All tournaments in the National Showcase Series.
  4. Sectional tournaments that are designated to count for USTA National rankings (12 per section).
  5. 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.
  6. Dynamically determined events in tournaments where at least 20% of the players in the event are National Players.
  7. All ITF junior tournaments.

We term a National Player as any player that has earned a singles 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 important?

A National Player is a USTA junior who has participated in and has at least one singles 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 cross-play.

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 suport staff.


I noticed several kids who have incorrect graduation years. What gives?

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 their profiles.

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 update it!


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 cross-play.

For example, a head-to-head system cannot objectively compare:

  • Player A who reaches the semifinals in several super-national tournaments.
  • Player B who is undefeated - but only competes in local tournaments.
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 lists?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 Description.


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 Julie Wrege.

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 endorsement.

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Colette Lewis has covered topflight junior events as a freelance journalist for over a decade. Read her weekly column, follow her on Twitter, and and find more of her daily commentary at ZooTennis.

Page updated on Wednesday, July 06, 2016 at 7:50:05 AM
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