USTA NTRP Self-Assessment

Second City Tennis has multiple divisions based on players' NTRP ratings. Use the NTRP to self-assess your tennis skills and report your rating on the application form. Based on your league results last year (if any), your NTRP self-assessment, and number of applicants for each NTRP rating, applicants will then be assigned to the proper divisions.

The NTRP is a classification program, which defines and describes levels of tennis ability. In 1978, the United States Tennis Association (USTA), in cooperation with the United States Professional Team Association (USPTA) and the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), undertook a study of the many tennis rating systems which were proliferating at that time. There were a dozen such systems in addition to the traditional methods of classification -A,B,C, beginner, advanced beginner, intermediate, etc. The consensus of researchers involved in evaluating the existing systems was that, to be successful, a rating program had to be universally accepted, easy to administer, and non-exclusive. With this in mind, USTA, USPTA, and IHRSA chose to adopt and promote the National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP) to unify the method of classifying players throughout the country. The sponsoring organizations believe that the NTRP allows players to achieve better competition, on-court compatibility, personal challenge, and more enjoyment in the sport.

Self-Rating Guidelines

To place yourself: Read all categories carefully and then decide which one best describes your present ability level. Assume you are competing against players of the same gender and ability level. If in doubt, place yourself in the next highest category.

To check your rating: After choosing a rating level, ask yourself, "CAN I PLAY COMPETITIVELY AGAINST ANY AGE PLAYER OF MY GENDER WHO IS RATED AT THE SAME LEVEL THAT I HAVE RATED MYSELF?" If your answer is "yes," then your self-rating is probably accurate.


  • The rating categories are generalizations about skill levels.
  • You may find that you actually play above or below the category, which best describes your skill level, depending on your competitive ability.
  • Your self-rating is not meant to be static but may be adjusted as your skills change or as your match play demonstrates the need for reclassification.
  • Your self-rating may be confirmed by a qualified verifier. For participation in the USTA League Tennis Program your self-rating must be confirmed by USTA sectionally approved verifiers.
  • There is no substitute for match results as a measure of playing ability.
Characteristics of a 2.0 Player
Forehand: Incomplete swing; lacks directional intent
Backhand: Avoids backhands; erratic contact; grip problems
Serve/Return: Incomplete service motion; double faults common; toss is inconsistent; return on serve erratic
Volley: Reluctant to play net; avoids BH; lacks footwork
Playing Style: Familiar with basic positions for singles and doubles play; frequently out of position 

Characteristics of a 2.5 Player
Forehand: From developing; prepared for moderately paced shots
Backhand: Grip and preparation problems; often chooses to hit FH instead of BH
Serve/Return: Attempting a full swing; can get the ball in play at slow pace; inconsistent toss; can return slow paced serve
Volley: Uncomfortable at net especially on the BH side; frequently uses FH racket face on BH volleys Special Shots: Can lob intentionally but with little control; can make contact on overheads
Playing Style: Can sustain a short rally of slow pace; weak court coverage; usually remains in the initial doubles position

Characteristics of a 3.0 Player
Forehand: Fairly consistent with some directional intent; lacks depth control
Backhand: Frequently prepared; starting to hit with fair consistency on moderate shots
Serve/Return: Can lob consistently on moderate shots
Playing Style: Consistent on medium-paced shots; most common doubles formation is still one-up, one-back; approaches net when play dictates but weak in execution 

Characteristics of a 3.5 Player
Forehand: Good consistency and variety on moderate shots; good directional control; developing spin
Backhand: Hitting with directional control on moderate shots; has difficulty on high or hard shots; returns difficult shot defensively
Serve/Return: Starting to serve with control and some power; developing spin; can return serve consistently with directional control on moderate shots
Volley: More aggressive net play; some ability to cover side shots; uses proper footwork; can direct FH volleys; controls BH volleys but with little offense; difficulty in putting volleys away
Special Shots: Consistent overhead on shots within reach; developing approach shots, drop shots, and half volleys; can place the return of most second serves
Playing Style: Consistent on moderate shots with directional control; improved court coverage; starting to look for the opportunity to come to the net; developing teamwork in doubles 

Characteristics of a 4.0 Player
Forehand: Dependable; hits with depth and control on moderate shots; may try to hit too good a placement on a difficult shot
Backhand: Player can direct the ball with consistency and depth on moderate shots; developing spin
Serve/Return: Places both first and second serves; frequent power on first serve; uses spin; dependable return of serve; can return with depth in singles and mix returns in doubles
Volley: 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 
Special Shots: 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 setups; dependable return on serve
Playing Style: Dependable ground strokes with directional control 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 

Characteristics of a 4.5 Player
Forehand: Very dependable; uses speed and spin effectively; controls depth well; tends to over-hit on difficult shots: offensive on moderate shots 
Backhand: Can control direction and depth but may break down under pressure; can hit with power and moderate shots
Serve/Return: Aggressive serving with limited double faults; uses power and spin; developing offense; on second serve frequently hits with good depth and placement; frequently hits aggressive service returns; can take pace off with moderate success in doubles
Volley: Can handle a mixed sequence of volleys; good footwork; has depth and directed control on BH; developing touch; most common error is still over-hitting
Special Shots: Approach shots hit with good depth and control; can consistently hit volleys and overheads to end the point; frequently hits aggressive service returns
Playing Style: More intentional variety in game; is hitting with more pace; covers up weaknesses well; beginning to vary game plan according to opponent; aggressive net play in common in doubles; good anticipation; beginning to handle pace 

Characteristics of a 5.0 Player
Forehand: Strong shot with control, depth, and spin; uses FH to set up offensive situations; has developed good touch; consistent on passing shots
Backhand: Can use BH as an aggressive shot with good consistency; has good direction and depth on most shots; varies spin
Serve/Return: Serve is placed effectively with the intent of hitting a weakness or developing on offensive situation; has a variety of serves to rely on; good depth, spin, and placement or most second serves to force weak return or set up next shot; can mix aggressive and off-paced service returns with control, depth, and spin
Volley: Can hit most volleys with depth, pace, and direction; plays difficult volleys depth; given opportunity, volley is often hit for a winner
Special Shots: Approach shots and passing shots are hit with pace and 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
Playing Style: Frequently has an outstanding shot or attribute around which his game is built; can vary game plan according to opponent; this player is "match wise," plays percentage tennis, and "beats himself" less than the 4.5 player; solid teamwork in doubles is evident; game breaks down mentally and physically more often than the 5.5 player 

Characteristics of a 5.5 Player
Player can hit dependable shots in stress situations; has developed good anticipation; can pick up cues from such things as opponent's toss, body position, back-swing, preparation; first and second serves can be depended on in stress situations and can be hit offensively at any time; can analyze and exploit opponents weaknesses; has developed power and/or consistency as a major weapon; can vary strategies and style of play in a competitive situation. 

Characteristics of a 6.0 Player
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. 

Characteristics of a 6.5 Player
Player has a reasonable chance of succeeding at the 7.0 level and has extensive satellite tournament experience. 

Characteristics of a 7.0 Player

Player is a world class player who is committed to competition on the international level and whose major source of income is tournament prize winnings.