I've kind of noticed a theme that runs through a lot of rating-related posts around here. Time and time again, we hear that someone says they are a 4.5 but couldn't get their serve in. Or they claim their opponent must be sandbagging because they lost badly. Even on these boards, we've seen instances where someone claimed to be a certain level, only to learn later that this was what their club pro told them or is based on some non-USTA computer. I think we could use more clarity and consistency when folks refer to their ratings or those of their teammates, opponents, partners. The understanding should be: *If it ain't a USTA computer rating, it ain't a rating.* Having a USTA rating doesn't make someone the be all and end all, of course. It does, however, make their observations and opinions about their level a bit more legitimate. Not only would such an understanding help our discussions at TT, perhaps it would help avoid the current problem of having every tennis social or event become awash with people who are pulling a rating straight out of their backsides. It's really misleading, and I don't see how it helps anyone to introduce more uncertainty into the task of matching up players based on ability. Yes, yes, I know that those not in the U.S. have to guesstimate their rating. That's fine -- they're unlikely to turn up at my local tennis round robin claiming to be a 4.5 but unable to keep the ball in the court.