Boy, with UTR Rating, wearing white Nike hat and white Nike shirt hits a backhand while playing tennis

Move Up One UTR Rating Level: Four Ways To Do It

By David Geatz, the Head Men's Tennis Coach at the University of Pennsylvania (Courtesy of Collegiate Exposure Camps)

Every tennis player wants to improve skill level, but exactly how much better does a player need to be to move up one UTR Rating level?

The answer is probably not as difficult as one might think. Everyone understands that the margins in tennis are small, but how small, exactly?

UTR Rating was created by UTR Sports, formerly known as Universal Tennis. Unlike the ITF World Tennis Number or NTRP Rating, it's not a match rating, but a skill rating and ranking system that places every player on the same scale, from 1-16.50, based on recent match results. A players rating reflects their skill level at that moment in time.

Your singles and doubles UTR Rating is calculated by the UTR Rating algorithm that uses your last 30 eligible matches in the past 12 months.

One match result is all it takes to receive a projected UTR Rating so you can still have a reliable UTR Rating even if you don't compete often.

All match results, such as junior tournaments, will count towards UTR Rating. However, only official matches from verified tournaments and events will count towards your Verified UTR Rating, which won't include matches that are self-reported/social. Click here to learn more.


Methods to Help Move Up One UTR Rating Level

1) Get to the next level of fitness

On a scale of 1-10, if your fitness level is a 7 and you can improve to a 8 or 9, you most definitely will pick up an extra 3%. Tennis is a high performance running sport. If you don't like to run, you should retire. Run for every ball even if it is out by 29 feet.

2) Add one new shot to your game

Whatever shot you currently "just rent" and don’t own, work on it. Develop that backhand slice, learn a kick serve, etc. One new shot a year equals 3% improvement. These are the basics of tennis and you need to be brilliant with the basics. The rule is: “The basics are the basics, and you can’t beat the basics.”

3) Hit serves every day

The single most important shot in tennis is the serve. If you were going to work on one thing that would make the most difference it would be the serve. Hit 40 serves a day, giving yourself one day off per week. Hit 10 serves to each corner of the court and hit flat, slice, topspin and kick.

After you hit your 10 serves to each corner, don’t quit; practice until you make 10 second serves in a row. Do this every day, and you will pick up 3% in your game.

4) Take an organized approach to your practice

You need to approach each practice with at least one thing you want to accomplish. Every junior player should take ownership of his or her own game.

You can't win on a hope, wish or prayer, nor rely entirely on your coach to do it for you. Design a deliberate practice that forces you to play slightly outside of your comfort zone, and you will also be able to pick a 3% improvement.

I hope these few tips help you get to the next level, but please go into this knowing there will be pain.

You have to practice outside your comfort zone. You need to push yourself. In my experience, anytime a new drill is introduced, the player who does it well or wins the drill, loves that drill.

However, the player who struggles and performs poorly, will invariably complain about the necessity of the drill, and may even feel that it is a bad or a stupid drill.

Learn to appreciate the drills you hate and see them as the challenge and opportunity to get better at them. Embrace the pain and the process. Work hard, get in better shape, learn new shots, don't rent your strokes, own them, and challenge yourself with competitive matches. Just 3-5% is a small improvement, but it makes a big difference! Good luck and stay with it.

Are you in high school and a junior tennis player with future plans that include college tennis and perhaps a scholarship? You can learn more about camps Collegiate Exposure Camps here. All camp match results will go towards your UTR Rating at UTRsports.net.

If you're interested in more match play and tournament action, register for UTR Sports College Circuits (a series of open, tiered prize money events) or a UTR Sports Flex League (play on your schedule).

The UTR Rating is the gold-standard rating for college tennis, used for evaluating recruits by almost all college coaches in the U.S.

One of the first questions a coach will look to answer when recruiting a college player is "What is your UTR Rating?"

About UTR Sports

The mission of UTR Sports, formerly Universal Tennis, is to connect and grow the sports of tennis and pickleball with accurate global ratings, innovative events, and a global community centered around level-based play. The UTR Sports platform is anchored by our proprietary ratings technology. UTR Sports provides the technology, tools and solutions relevant and valuable to players, coaches, and organizers. UTR Sports creates opportunities and pathways, including the UTR Pro Tennis Tour, for players from all over the world, in all stages of life, to find better matches and unlock a more fun, affordable, and flexible experience.

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