The National Tennis Rating Program

There are many ways of rating tennis players, some subjective, some objective.

A widely accepted and published measure is the National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP) guidelines of the United States Tennis Association (USTA). These measures are primarily objective if decided upon through properly conducted clinics. If decided upon through visual comparison by others to this NTRP measure system, the decided measures become more subjective.

For those with no available rating measure, it is suggested you ask a tennis related friend[s] who already is familiar with the measures and who has his/her own measure, to view your play and make an initial subjective measure to get you started.

Remember, the rating categories are generalizations about skill levels. You may actually play above or below your rated skill level depending on your competitive ability. Your self rating is not meant to be static but should adjust as you improve your skills.

Many have found that the use of these NTRP measures has resulted in more balanced matches for recreational tennis, and more inspiring matches for competitive tennis. Please read on for a detailed description of the NTRP guidelines..



The National Tennis Rating Program:
General Characteristics of various playing levels




This player is just starting to play tennis.


This player has limited experience and is still working primarily on getting the ball into play.


This player needs on-court experience. This player has obvious stroke weaknesses but is familiar with basic positions for singles and doubles play.


This player is learning to judge where the ball is going although court coverage is weak. This player can sustain a rally of slow pace with other players of the same ability.


This player is consistent when hitting medium paced shots, but is not comfortable with all strokes and lacks control when trying for directional intent, depth or power.


This player has achieved improved stroke dependability and direction on moderate shots, but still lacks depth and variety. This player is starting to exhibit more aggressive net play, has improved court coverage, and is developing teamwork in doubles.


This player has dependable strokes, including directional intent and depth on both forehand and backhand sides on moderate shots, plus the ability to use lobs, overheads, approach shots and volleys with some success. This player occasionally forces errors when serving and teamwork in doubles is evident.




This player has begun to master the use of power and spins and is beginning to handle pace, has sound footwork, can control depth of shots, and is beginning to vary tactics according to opponents. This player can hit first serves with power and accuracy, place the second serve and is able to rush the net successfully.


This player has good shot anticipation and frequently has an outstanding shot or exceptional consistency around which a game may be structured. This player can regularly hit winners or force errors off of short balls, can put away volleys, can successfully execute lobs, drop shots, half volleys and overhead smashes and has good depth and spin on most second serves.


This player has developed power and/or consistency as a major weapon. This player can vary strategies and styles of play in a competitive situation and hits dependable shots in a stress situation.


These players will generally not need NTRP ratings. Rankings or past rankings will speak for themselves. The 6.0 player typically has had intensive training for national tournament competition at the junior level and collegiate levels and has obtained a sectional and/or national ranking. The 6.5 player has a reasonable chance of succeeding at the 7.0 level and has extensive satellite tournament experience. The 7.0 is a world class player who is committed to tournament competition on the international level and whose major source of income is tournament prize winnings.

The National Tennis Rating Program:
Verification guidelines in more detail






Special Shots

Playing Style


This player is just starting to play tennis.







This player has limited experience and is still working primarily on getting the ball into play.







Incomplete swing; lacks directional intent.

Avoids backhands; erratic contact; grip problems; incomplete swing.

Incomplete service motion; double faults common; toss is inconsistent.

Reluctant to play net; avoids BH; lacks footwork.


Familiar with basic positions for single and doubles play; frequently out of position


Form developing; prepared for moderately paced shots.

Grip and preparation problems; often chooses to hit FH instead of BH.

Attempting a full swing; can get the ball in play at a slow pace; inconsistent toss.

Uncomfortable at net especially on the BH side; frequently uses FH racket face on BH volleys.

Can lob intentionally but with little control; can make contact on overheads.

Can sustain a rally of slow pace; weak court coverage; usually remains in the initial doubles position.


Fairly consistent with some directional intent; lacks depth control.

Frequently prepared; starting to hit with fair consistency on moderate shots.

Developing rhythm; little consistency when trying for power; second serve is often considerably slower than first serve.

Consistent FH volley; inconsistent BH volley; has trouble with low and wide shots.

Can lob consistently on moderate shots.

Consistent on medium paced shots; most common doubles formation is still one-up, one-back; approaches net when play dictates but weak in execution.


Good consistency and variety on moderate shots; good directional intent.

Hitting with directional intent on moderate shots; has difficulty on  high or hard shots; returns difficult shots defensively.

Starting to serve with control and some power.

More aggressive net play; some ability to cover side shots; uses proper footwork; can direct FH volleys; controls BH volley but with little offense; difficulty in putting volleys away.

Consistent overhead on shots within reach; developing approach shots, drop shots, and half volleys; can place the return of most second serves.

Consistency on moderate shots with directional intent; improved court coverage; starting to look for the opportunity to come to the net; developing teamwork in doubles.


Dependable; hits with depth and control on moderate shots; may try to hit too good a placement on a difficult shot.

Player can direct the ball with consistency and depth on moderate shots.

Places both first and second serves; frequent power on first serve but tends to overhit first serve; uses spin.

Depth and control on FH volley; can direct BH volleys but usually lacks depth; developing wide and low volleys on both sides of the body.

Can put away easy overheads; can poach in doubles; follows aggressive shots to the net; beginning to finish point off; can hit to opponent's weaknesses; able to lob defensively on difficult shots and offensively  on set ups; dependable return of serve.

Dependable ground strokes with directional intent and depth demonstrated on moderate shots; not yet playing good percentage tennis; teamwork in doubles is evident; rallies may still be lost due to impatience.


Very dependable; uses speed and spin effectively; controls depth well; tends to overhit on difficult shots; offensive on moderate shots.

Can control direction and depth but may break down under pressure; can hit with power on moderate shots.

Aggressive serving with limited double faults; uses power and spin; developing offense; on second serve frequently hits with good depth and placement.

Can handle a mixed sequence of volleys; good footwork; has depth and directional control on BH; developing touch; most common error is still overhitting.

Approach shots hit with good depth and control; can consistently hit volleys and overheads to end the point; frequently hits aggressive service returns.

More intentional variety in game; is hitting with more pace; covers up weaknesses well; beginning to vary tactics according to opponent; aggressive net play is common in doubles; good anticipation; beginning to handle pace.


Strong shot with control, depth and spin; uses FH to set up offensive situations; has developed good touch; consistent on passing shots.

Can use BH as an aggressive shot with good consistency; has good direction and depth on most shots; varies spin.

Serve is places effectively with the intent of hitting to a weakness or developing and offensive situation; has a variety of serves to rely on; good depth, spin, and placement on most second serves to force weak return or set up next shot.

Can hit most volleys with depth, pace, and direction; plays difficult volleys with depth; given the opportunity, volley is hit automatically for a winner.

Approach shots and passing shots are hit with pace and a high degree of effectiveness; can lob offensively; overhead can be hit from any position; hits mid-court volley with consistency; can mix aggressive and off-paced service returns.

Frequently has an outstanding shot around which his/her game is built; can vary game plan according to opponent; this player is "match wise," plays percentage tennis, and "beats him/herself" less than the 4.5 player; solid teamwork in doubles is evident.

Tennis Lessons

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Telephone: (905) 499-3860

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Richmond Hill, ON
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