USTA Tennis Leagues

There are many USTA league players in Sarasota and Sarasota County and lots more who play, 'recreationaly', on neighborhood courts.
There are also other local, non-USTA, leagues: Suncoast Tennis League, Tri-Cities, etc., and Ultimate Tennis League (formerly K-Swiss)
Our wonderful Local League Contractor (LLC's) is :
     - Ben Friendly (303-748-3093 , Dropshot1963@gmail.com)

- There are about  40 tennis clubs and facilities in the county that may have teams in the different leagues (private clubs, public, and private, but open to the public). (http://www.tennisround.com/tennis-courts/fl/sarasota and http://www.tennismaps.com/index.asp?regionid=86&locid= )
- There are about 330,000 USTA league players across the country.
- Florida has over 50,000 USTA players.
 
- Leagues are organized by age, skill level, same gender, mixed, and combo levels.
     - Adult - 18+
     - Adult - 40+
     - Adult - 55+
     - Adult - 65+
- In 2013, there was an age restructuring of USTA leagues. The "senior" label was eliminated, and all leagues became "adult".
 
- Skill Levels - there are numerical designators for the skill levels, from the NTRP, National Tennis Rating Program -- 1.5 thru 7.0 (in ".5" increments)
  - 1.5 - an absolute beginner, no experience, maybe little knowledge
  - 7.0 - world-class professionals, making their living, the pro tournaments
  - 4.5 - 6.0 - college players
 
- New league players have to "self-rate", with an obligation of accuracy and honesty of playing history.
- A good way to find your appropriate level is to play with quite a few people at different levels, and see where you fit it.  Self-rating at a level below your skills could result (and has) in a “disqualification” during league play and could jeopardize your team’s win/loss record.  This would happen after a player received “3 strikes” (match results significantly higher than expected for the self-rating).
- Typical NTRP skill level ratings in our local leagues are:  2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, and 4.5.
- There are 5.0 and 5.5 leagues elsewhere in the Tampa area.
 
- Most clubs in Sarasota County appear to be predominantly 3.5 senior groups, with about 60% of the players being around 3.5, 20% being better, 20% being less skilled, and many being near/beyond retirement age.
- Near the end of each calendar year, USTA publishes the NTRP ratings that players will use for the next year.  Some people have improved enough to get bumped up to the next level, and a few get dropped down one level (i.e., from 4.0 to 3.5).  Most stay at the same level.  Players also have the option to electronically appeal any changes.  You can access your own rating or a list of all others by going to:
 
- Near the end of August, each year, USTA publishes an “Early Start” NTRP list (ESL).  Your name would only come out on that list if it was likely that your end-of-year NTRP rating (coming out in Dec) might go up, or go down.  This would only affect you if you signed up for a league that was starting in the Aug-Dec time period and ending in the next calendar year.  You would have to play at the ESL level.  If your name is on this list, but your desired league participation would start and end before the end of the year, you would not be affected.  Being on this ESL list, does not guarantee that your NTRP level will change at the end of the year.  Likewise, it is possible to have an end-of-year change in your NTRP, even though you were not on the ESL.  You can access this ESL by going to:
 
- The 69 counties in Florida are gathered into regions; Sarasota County is in Region 5.
- There are 17 Sections in the USTA, organized by geographic proximity and density of USTA league players.  So, at the National League Championships, there are usually 17 teams, one from each Section.
- The state of Florida is one Section, by itself, with over 50,000 USTA members.
- There are local leagues, throughout the year.
- Then for the groupings with large-enough numbers, the local league winners might play in a Region event.
- Then the Region winners play in the Section Championship.
- Many leagues do not have a Region event, so local winners go directly to Daytona Beach.
- The 17 Section winners play in the National Championships.
 
- Here in Florida, since 2003, the Section events have been hosted at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.  The facility is owned by the city/county.  USTA Florida rents office space there and rents the courts for all the Florida Section events.  So, when you hear people talking about "going to Daytona Beach", that means their team has won locally, maybe at Region, and will participate in the Florida Section Championships, with a chance at "going to Nationals".
- USTA Florida has a new building under construction at the new National Tennis Center at Lake Nona, near Orlando.  Their plans are to relocate there from Daytona Beach, when that new building is completed in 2016.  This Center will have 102 tennis courts to support a number of different programs.  Many of the USTA National functions will move to this Center.
 
- There have to be enough numbers to justify a National Championship, for each category (gender, age, NTRP level).
- In recent years, Sarasota County has had teams go to the Nationals, which means they won locally, and then won the Florida Sectional at Daytona Beach.
 
- Most of the 55+ and 65+ leagues in Sarasota County play in the Jan-Mar time period.  These would be the men's doubles and women's doubles.  There are not always teams in each category (gender, age, NTRP level) for every club.  These leagues play 3 doubles in each match, so you need 3 courts for each team match; and the league winners go directly to Daytona Beach.
- The women's and men's 18+ and 40+ leagues play in the Apr-Jun and Jun-Aug time periods.  This usually involves 2 singles and 3 doubles, so you need 5 courts for each team match.  At the 2.5, 5.0, and 5.5 levels, the format is 1 single and 2 doubles.
- Then there are mixed doubles leagues -- 40+ in Winter; 55+ in Spring; 18+ in Spring/Summer.  Then in the Fall, there are “non-advancement/fun” mixed leagues.
- There are "combo" leagues.
- In a combo league, each pair has players of two different NTRP rating levels (i.e., a 3.5 and a 4.0, playing in a 7.5 combo match.
- The combo leagues in Sarasota County are in the late Summer and Fall (typically 6.5, 7.5, and 8.5).
- 65+, combo, and mixed league match results do not factor into NTRP ratings.  There is a Mixed Only rating for those who play only mixed leagues.
 
- Each league registration costs $25.
- Team captains register at that fee, but then receive a $25 gift certificate from Tennis Warehouse – a small “perk” for their demanding work.
- All team registrations and reporting of match scores are done by computer through the TennisLink system.  This is a fantastic system that has all league records throughout the country for the last number of years.  We could go into TennisLink and find a cousin in Waco, Texas, who played a women's doubles match in April, 2009, and see who her partner was, and what the score was.  You get the idea.  It is an outstanding system.
 
- Okay, this is just “some” info on USTA leagues.  For the whole picture, go to:  www.usta.com  and/or www.florida.usta.com  
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