Pat McEnroe's Tears: Are USTA NTRP tournaments obsolete because of UTR?

Based on what I have read on here, and my own growing experience, while NTRP & USTA is good for leagues, for tournaments UTR is superior, as it ensure more competitive matches and a full draw, since it is not limited to "Men's 3.0" or such.

There aren't enough NTRP tournaments, if you ask me, and many have only a few people for each NTRP level, making it a bit silly where the semi-finals is the first match. Juniors seem to fill up tournaments, but not adults.

The UTR / ELO seems suitable for tournaments as there are too many players to play one another otherwise, to achieve a fair ranking, so the computer ratings balance things out better than NTRP, which is more self-rated and slower to be upgraded. I noticed that the USTA itself does not count NTRP tournament results for DQ's, because anybody could play at any level really (by self rating or playing up). This seems to indicate a structural problem with NTRP tournaments.

The leagues are a different story, I suspect the NTRP ratings are useful because they can somewhat group players of ability together for regular team play.

So is this right: The NTRP thing is ideal for leagues, but the UTR ELO for tournaments? Would this mean the USTA never will adopt any UTR style rating and that the UTR will never be successful in running leagues?
 

Max G.

Legend
Eh, I think any argument that tries to make a case based on the difference in rating systems is wrong. UTR can be used to group together players of equal ability - "UTR 3-5" or something. NTRP is also a computer rating system, I don't see either of those things making a difference.

The way the organization is structured or how it runs tournaments/leagues is much more likely to make a difference.
 

cknobman

Legend
All I can say is in my area they keep cancelling USTA tournaments due to lack of entries.

UTR tournaments are overflowing and they are literally turning people away. Tournament this Saturday was a limit of 128 singles players and 140 signed up.

So yeah I'd say UTR is making USTA tournaments obsolete. Even the major zones here are getting small draws.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
It sure would fix Mixed Doubles events. NTRP is abysmal at sorting out gender differences, let alone age differences. A unified rating scale should have been there from the beginning.
 

onehandbh

Legend
All I can say is in my area they keep cancelling USTA tournaments due to lack of entries.

UTR tournaments are overflowing and they are literally turning people away. Tournament this Saturday was a limit of 128 singles players and 140 signed up.

So yeah I'd say UTR is making USTA tournaments obsolete. Even the major zones here are getting small draws.
Interesting.

Which area do you live in? That's promising. For awhile, it seemed tournaments were dying in some areas.
 

Matthew ATX

Semi-Pro
All I can say is in my area they keep cancelling USTA tournaments due to lack of entries.

UTR tournaments are overflowing and they are literally turning people away. Tournament this Saturday was a limit of 128 singles players and 140 signed up.

So yeah I'd say UTR is making USTA tournaments obsolete. Even the major zones here are getting small draws.
128 for one draw?
 

Jack the Hack

Hall of Fame
I've played hundreds of tournaments in my life, and I've definitely seen a large drop in participation over the past 10 years or so in USTA sanctioned events.

In my area, we used to regularly get draws of 32 or more in the 4.5 and Open categories, and even more in the 3.0 to 4.0 ranges. All of the "senior" age group tournaments also used to have healthy draws, and there used to be 3 or 4 events every month from late winter through late fall. Nowadays, we're lucky to have 1 tournament a month, and barely anyone signs up (draws less than 8 for most categories). It's really sad to see tournaments that have been running for 30 or 40 years (or way more) suddenly stop operating because nobody is playing anymore.

I blame the USTA for this for several reasons:

1. The cost of tournaments has risen, but the value from the events has gone down significantly. For example, in years past, I've played in tournaments that had $25 entry fees, which included a t-shirt, player party with food, and a guaranteed 2 matches (consolation draws). Many tournaments now are $50 entry, don't include any goodies, and are single elimination. Get a bad draw, and it becomes a waste of time. Contrast this with many 5k and 10k running events where your entry not only pays for the event, but you always get a shirt, a goody bag full of sponsor stuff, and a post-race party with food - all within a tidy timeframe of a couple hours. No wonder those things are growing while tennis tournaments are shrinking! Why is the USTA the blame for this? Because they charge a healthy amount for sanctioning fees, and require the hiring of roving umpires, which increases the cost, but they do not enforce any standard for the quality of tournament player experience.

2. Leagues, leagues, and more leagues. Court time is getting taken up everywhere, blocking out what could be used for tournaments. With more league commitments, people have less time to put towards other events. And as Cindy pointed out, leagues are scheduled, while tournament draws are a wild card. Again, why is this the USTA's fault? The USTA created all of these leagues, and the Sectional competition committees set the standard for tournaments.

3. Aside from juniors trying to gain college scholarships, tournament play and rankings have almost no recognition or fanfare from the USTA. I've been the #1 ranked player in my NTRP category in my Section 5 times over the past 20 years. Up until 10 years ago, that meant that my name and picture would have been published in a ranking list within a nice yearbook that went out to every member and club in our Section. It was really easy to find out who the top 20 players were and it spurred competition to make sure your name was high on the list each year. I know I played extra tournaments in attempts to chase the #1 ranking several times to get this recognition. In addition, I also received a certificate stating that I was #1, similar to those that you get when you qualify for a national ranking. Now, the only place that you find rankings is through a drop down search in TennisLink. A couple years ago, I achieved something I never thought I could do... I ended the year ranked #1 in my age group in the Section. I was a 5.0 then, but I know I wasn't the best player in our region. There were plenty of guys that could beat me, but I played every single tournament, and I won more matches than anyone else in the category. My reward for #1 was nothing. No mention in any yearbooks or newsletters. No acknowledgement from the USTA. No qualification for any special tournaments or team events. The only way anyone would know is to look in TennisLink for that year, Section, category, and ranking list. What a joke. I've only played 2 tournaments since then...

My goal now is to keep improving, remain healthy, and when I'm in retirement, travel over to Europe to play a bunch of ITF senior events. The ITF seems to still care about this and their tournaments are still good... but I've got about 15 years until I can do that.

Anyway, that's a long way of saying that I agree that NTRP tournaments don't matter anymore. The UTR events haven't quite caught on in my area yet, but I imagine that they will be popular with juniors trying to get their rating up for college recruitment. Not sure if it will become a thing for adults...
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
I've played hundreds of tournaments in my life, and I've definitely seen a large drop in participation over the past 10 years or so in USTA sanctioned events.

In my area, we used to regularly get draws of 32 or more in the 4.5 and Open categories, and even more in the 3.0 to 4.0 ranges. All of the "senior" age group tournaments also used to have healthy draws, and there used to be 3 or 4 events every month from late winter through late fall. Nowadays, we're lucky to have 1 tournament a month, and barely anyone signs up (draws less than 8 for most categories). It's really sad to see tournaments that have been running for 30 or 40 years (or way more) suddenly stop operating because nobody is playing anymore.
I remember a commercial from the Tennis Channel: two kids are glumly waiting outside a packed tennis facility. A guy picks up the clipboard and announces their names and they excitedly leap up and sprint to the court as if they'd lose the slot if they didn't get there in under 10 seconds.

I don't see that happening anymore. :(
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
I considered going back to playing tournaments this year but started looking for what was coming up locally and seems there are still a good numbers, but more spread out over the southwest states. Was kinda disappointed. I mean, there is an absolute ****E load of jr's events - as a matter of fact at least a copule every single weekend. But adult 3.0-4.5, fuggetabowtit. Conversaly, or maybe as part of that, I have seen a bigger push of adult leagues. USTA changing their focus there? I dunno.


Haven't looked at UTR to see
 

heninfan99

Talk Tennis Guru
Based on what I have read on here, and my own growing experience, while NTRP & USTA is good for leagues, for tournaments UTR is superior, as it ensure more competitive matches and a full draw, since it is not limited to "Men's 3.0" or such.

There aren't enough NTRP tournaments, if you ask me, and many have only a few people for each NTRP level, making it a bit silly where the semi-finals is the first match. Juniors seem to fill up tournaments, but not adults.

The UTR / ELO seems suitable for tournaments as there are too many players to play one another otherwise, to achieve a fair ranking, so the computer ratings balance things out better than NTRP, which is more self-rated and slower to be upgraded. I noticed that the USTA itself does not count NTRP tournament results for DQ's, because anybody could play at any level really (by self rating or playing up). This seems to indicate a structural problem with NTRP tournaments.

The leagues are a different story, I suspect the NTRP ratings are useful because they can somewhat group players of ability together for regular team play.

So is this right: The NTRP thing is ideal for leagues, but the UTR ELO for tournaments? Would this mean the USTA never will adopt any UTR style rating and that the UTR will never be successful in running leagues?
This is the vide I get from the powers that be:
NTRP is for rec hacks(whose money actually pays for everything)
UTR is for serious players
 
The number of UTR tournaments in the Mid Atlantic section seems to have increased this year. Hardly any indoor NTRP ones for January and February, despite thousands of eligible players.
 

WhiteOut

Semi-Pro
This is how it is playing out in the district where I live. A solid, well populated 2nd-level mid-west city. Very robust adult leagues, consistent participation all week long, and even on weekends (since getting court time on the weekday evenings is tough during the cold months). But NTRP tourneys are virtually non-existent in this town or even within an hour's drive. Within 3 hours drive there's a larger city with regular NTRP tourneys in the metro area, but then you'r dealing with all the expense. In my town there literally are like two events in the summer and that's about it. And there's no way I'd enter an open--as a hi 3.5 player it simply would not be worth the effort -- for me or my opponents.

Unfortunately, UTR not growing here yet either. I searched for tourneys in my town thru April and nothing...the good news is, my dance card is large enough I can schedule play with just about anyone within about 3 minutes. But the tournament experience for me and everyone in this market is more of 'tennis-vacation' thing versus being able to play in one let's say every six weeks etc...
 

BallBag

Professional
I like to do both UTR and NTRP in the DMV area. There's more competition at 4.0 NTRP level. We have UTR tournaments and they are great but its about 2/3 juniors and the spread in level is high (5 to 11 with ~20 person draw). What's the junior to adult ratio y'all are seeing in your UTR tournaments?
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
No, I don't think USTA tournaments are obsolete (yet).

Competition improves markets and makes experiences better for the customers, the tennis players in this case.

I think competition from UTR will ultimately benefit USTA tournaments by providing alternatives, and thus pressuring USTA to improve their tournament experiences for players.

USTA will have to improve, or within a few years, they may be obsolete.
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
I like to do both UTR and NTRP in the DMV area. There's more competition at 4.0 NTRP level. We have UTR tournaments and they are great but its about 2/3 juniors and the spread in level is high (5 to 11 with ~20 person draw). What's the junior to adult ratio y'all are seeing in your UTR tournaments?

Do UTR tournaments have age restrictions then, or no? So all based on UTR level only?

I mean, makes sense junios would be all over competing against anyone in their UTR level since that drives college recruitment and such moving forward.
 

BallBag

Professional
Do UTR tournaments have age restrictions then, or no? So all based on UTR level only?

I mean, makes sense junios would be all over competing against anyone in their UTR level since that drives college recruitment and such moving forward.
The ones around here have no restrictions. I know there's some with age and gender restrictions. It's based on UTR only. Some have prize money for winners and highest finishing female.
 
Who plays in the open USTA tournaments? Is it ranked juniors or 5.0+ or "randos"?

Addition: I mentioned PatMac since I associate him with the USTA and trying to increase its reach.
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
All I can say is in my area they keep cancelling USTA tournaments due to lack of entries.

UTR tournaments are overflowing and they are literally turning people away. Tournament this Saturday was a limit of 128 singles players and 140 signed up.

So yeah I'd say UTR is making USTA tournaments obsolete. Even the major zones here are getting small draws.
Where do you find out about such events?
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
Who plays in the open USTA tournaments? Is it ranked juniors or 5.0+ or "randos"?
We have hosted the Open Nationals for 35's and hard court in Surprise, so no juniors and most the guys there are teaching pros, ex college, and low level futures/ATP players. You'll see down to even 4.5 play some of the events leading to the Nationals, but minimum I would say at Nationals is 5.0. Not sure overall though.
 

jonestim

Hall of Fame
When I started playing about 7 years ago there were four USTA tournaments within a 35 minute drive from me. Now there is one. The next closest is 2.5 hours.

Last year our league had three teams, so we played the other teams three times had 6 matches. Our out of town matches are 2.5 hrs away.

Pickleball grew from zero to five local tournaments in that same time.
 

CosmosMpower

Hall of Fame
All I can say is in my area they keep cancelling USTA tournaments due to lack of entries.

UTR tournaments are overflowing and they are literally turning people away. Tournament this Saturday was a limit of 128 singles players and 140 signed up.

So yeah I'd say UTR is making USTA tournaments obsolete. Even the major zones here are getting small draws.
Good
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
UTR has so many opportunities because it is not age or gender related. This weekend, two juniors were playing a UTR match. I first thought that a high school girl had brought her little baby brother to coach him. Turns out he is young but also small, and looks 1/5th her size, but is kind of a superb baseline player. She won in 2 close sets. Such opportunities would not exist without UTR.
 

jmnk

Hall of Fame
All I can say is in my area they keep cancelling USTA tournaments due to lack of entries.

UTR tournaments are overflowing and they are literally turning people away. Tournament this Saturday was a limit of 128 singles players and 140 signed up.

So yeah I'd say UTR is making USTA tournaments obsolete. Even the major zones here are getting small draws.
Could you post the link to that utr tournament that had too many entries, and to the usta tournament that was canceled?

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
 

RaiderRed

Rookie
Could you post the link to that utr tournament that had too many entries, and to the usta tournament that was canceled?

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
This tournament in the greater Dallas/Ft. Worth area has 134 players signed up for this Saturday, although there’s rain in the forecast again. Regardless, there’s one tournament hosted by T Bar M Racquet Club in Dallas that routinely gets over 100 entrants each month.

https://www.myutr.com/events/943
 

Matthew ATX

Semi-Pro
Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but it seems like people are comparing the total number of applicants in a UTR tournament (even though they get split into flights/draws) against single draws in a USTA tournament... which doesn't make any sense.

If we're counting total applicants, the doubles only adult Major Zone I played two weeks ago had 417 players. That UTR tournament above had 68 doubles players.
 

RaiderRed

Rookie
Played the Cotton Bowl MZ in Dallas in December. 436 entries.
I think we can agree that we have it good living near major cities in Texas regardless whether they are USTA or UTR events. No lack of options. As stated much earlier I stick with UTR because I don’t have to worry about yearly fees.
 

Matthew ATX

Semi-Pro
Yea I don't blame anyone for choosing UTR over USTA if its an option where they live; and we're definitely fortunate to live in the areas we do. I'm more questioning an above poster's claim that even MZ's are getting small numbers.
 

cknobman

Legend
Yea I don't blame anyone for choosing UTR over USTA if its an option where they live; and we're definitely fortunate to live in the areas we do. I'm more questioning an above poster's claim that even MZ's are getting small numbers.
The Cotton Bowl always gets a good turnout because its the only major in the winter played indoors and lots of college players use it as a winter pre season warmup.

Take the Fort Worth Major Zone. In 2017 it had 415, in 2018 295.

As someone who has played USTA tournaments since 2005 I can tell you from personal experience that lots of tournament draws are much much smaller and more than a few of my favorite tournaments have been outright cancelled due to lack of interest.
 
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