Since aging up today from the 16U to 18U age bracket, I think it's time for me to call it quits on USTA tournaments. As an average junior player, the UTR system provides far more up sides. I can't imagine why a player belonging to the 95% of tennis players (UTR 6-7 and below) would want to spend the majority of their resources on the USTA system.
- Cost - The UTR tournaments in my area are far cheaper and allows a player to get more "bang for their buck." Challengers are all $48.88 + tax, and if bad weather hits, many times the tournament directors just shorten format to pony sets. Two pony matches guaranteed for $50? No thanks. Open tournaments, which don't even count towards USTA rankings, are also $50. The cheapest UTR tournaments that I've competed in have been $20+tax, in a best 2 of 3, six game set, ad-scoring format. AND it's three matches guaranteed! Whenever it's started raining in the middle of a tournament, matches have either been simply delayed with the original format, or the whole event is pushed back one day. The more expensive UTRs ($50-80 entry fees) more often than not have prize money draws, thus the added cash is needed.
- Accessibility - Where I am located, the closest USTA Challenger and Open are at least a 30 minute drive, in best driving conditions. L3-L2 tournaments are even farther, at least one hour, again in the best conditions. The tennis director at the local club (and my coach), told me that hosting UTR tournaments is easier, both financially and time-wise. Also, UTR allows high school teams to host their own tournaments, giving much needed money to high school tennis programs. UTR is just simply more accessible.
- Diversity - As we know, UTR pits players against each other by numerical rating, regardless of gender and age. This gives players access to competition against a more diverse skill and playing style group, and makes it easier to find tournaments. Anybody can play in a single UTR, instead of having to wait for their own division.