getting bumped down for medical reason/how to do it?


Hey all,

I'm in a sort of an unfortunate situation. I played in a USTA 4.0 league as a self rate last spring. I did pretty well, although did lose a few matches. I ended up getting bumped up at the very end of the season. I probably deserved to be bumped up at the time. I was probably around a low end 4.5.

Well, this summer I injured my shoulder. I couldn't serve for a few months, and it eventually felt better.. at least somewhat better. I shouldn't have went back to serving the same way as I was before (extreme pronation with a lot of shoulder in it).. but I did.

It progressively ended up worse than it was before and hasn't gotten better for months. I am now serving underhand exclusively. I went to the doctor and was dx with rotator cuff tendinitis. To my understanding it is very common for tennis players, at least the one who don't take care of their shoulder, to end up with this.

My serve was once my biggest asset. Obviously, an underhand serve at the 4.5 level won't cut it. So my question is, is it possible in this situation to get bumped down on account of a injury? and if so how would one go about it?


Hall of Fame
i was a computer-rated 4.0 but my actual level is 3.5. i had to get some of the teaching pros at my club to email the usta coordinator saying that they had actually seen me play and i'm not really a 4.0. i would think that you should be able to do something similar. hope this helps!


Hall of Fame
Play some 4.5 like this and see what happens. If you get your ass kicked badly enough, you'll get bumped back down at the end of the year. If you find out that your serve isn't hindering you enough and you actually end up finding ways to win without depending on your serve to save you all the time, you may not be bumped down. Just because you have issues isn't really enough to warrant you getting put back to 4.0 where you could dominate via your groundstrokes or tactics. Don't cheat the system just because your serve is gone. It's not fair to the other players.


Hall of Fame
You certainly can try but let me share an example of one of my good tennis friends.

He has been a middle level 4.5 for about 20 years. He has played at sectionals a bunch during that time so his 4.5 rating was secure.

However, over a span of 3 years he had the following medical issues: Heart attack, 1 hip replacement and 3 vertebra fused. He did not play for almost 3 years. When he asked for a medical appeal to 4.0 he was told that these ailments could all be recovered from and his appeal was denied. He was told that if he had waited another 6 months he would have needed to self rate and then appeal his self rating. An appeal of his self rating would likely have been approved.

Getting a medical appeal granted requires very special circumstances indeed.


I guess it all depends on what is your actual goal? Do you want to play 4.5 or do you really want to go back to 4.0.

If you want to play 4.5, let your shoulder heal. If it is just rotator cuff tedonitis it will heal with rest and treatment. Just put off competitive playing until you are healed.

If you really want to get back to 4.0. Go out play some matches- lose them by wide margins. When ESR or end of year ratings come, you will be down to your old level.

It is highly doubtful that you will get a medical appeal. I know people with much worse conditions than yours that required surgery and they were out for 6-12 months and they were still denied.


As others have said, getting a med appeal is rare.

For what it's worth, I went through a similar shoulder injury. Rested for a few months, then made some changes to my serve (more angled stance in order to force body to rotate rather than just rely on shoulder rotation), plus changed to softer racquet / strings. End result is that my serve is as effective as it was previously, and I've been pain free for a couple of years.

There is hope - good luck!