Missing Ingredient That Would Change High School Tennis

Staff Writer: Ramon Elortondo

The exhilarating sport burst with excitement in high school tennis. Brotherhoods are made, relationships that will last a lifetime shape teams. The team aspect of high school brings a different aspect to tennis that your typical tournament player isn’t accustomed to.

That part is great. Finally, selfish, egocentric players that think the world revolves around them are shown that not everything is not about them like they previously assumed, but for those players, they need something out of how much time they are taking out of their usual schedule. Something that could either effect their ranking, or been seen by college coaches. They don’t want to play high school ghost matches. When reading up on this subject, I came across a quote that explained what I was talking about perfectly. It read, “Historically, high school tennis, even 30 years ago when I played, was not taken very seriously,” says Greg Chambers, director of tennis at Ensworth School, a private K-12 school with 1,100 students in Nashville, Tennessee. “The better teenaged players traditionally pursue USTA rankings. What matters to them aren’t high-school matches, but weekend USTA tournaments, where they can chase ranking points. High school tennis is not perceived as a path to college tennis. You don’t have a lot of serious players in high school tennis because they don’t get ranking points or any credit from a college coach’s view.”


Woodstock High School warming up before a match. Photo courtesy of Joshua Smerker.

Too often, however, teenagers face unevenly matched play. Better players aren’t sufficiently challenged. Inexperienced players get discouraged enough to leave the game and go elsewhere. What can we do to change this perspective.

Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) is soon to change what once was sought after as a second tier high school sport to a great source of visibility to college coaches. How it works is each player is given a rating 1-16, 16 being the best, based off of previous results the player has played in tournaments or matches that counted. That rating can change depending on who you play. When UTR starts implementing its system into high school, matches will be recorded and if a lower number plays a higher number, it will boost you to a higher level. Colleges are starting to only look at the beauty of UTR, it is a great tool and perfect to see how good a player is. “If UTR were used in the high school setting the way it is in colleges, you’d see a lot more kids participating in high-school tennis,” Chambers explains. “Suddenly, those high-school matches would mean something, because college tennis coaches pay attention to UTR—it counts!” Those are words from credible tennis sources that know and been around the game for a long time. When you talk to college coaches about their recruit, their first question is what is their UTR.

When it is all set and done, nothing compares to the atmosphere that team tennis creates.


Picture of a tennis team showing how fun tennis can be when it isn’t an individual sport. Photo courtesy of creativecommons.com

High school is a great utility that creates this beautiful thing. Adding UTR would be the icing on the cake to what is a dying sport to kids for difficulty in being seen. The missing ingredient is UTR and it is the time we implement it as soon as possible.


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