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NTRP Tennis Rating Levels

RATING PRACTICE RATIO

1.0

This player is just starting to play tennis Recommended practice-to-play-ratio is a minimum of 10 hours of practice for every 1 hour of game time.

1.5

This player has been introduced to the game, however has difficulty playing the game due to a lack of consistency rallying and serving. Recommended practice-to-play-ratio is 10 hours of practice for every 1 hour of game time.
GROUND-STROKES RETURN OF SERVE NET PLAY SERVE PRACTICE RATIO

2.0

Can get the ball in play but lacks control, resulting in inconsistent rallies. Often chooses to hit forehands instead of backhands. Tends to position in a manner to protect weaknesses. Inconsistent return. In singles, reluctant to come to the net. In doubles, understands the basic positioning; comfortable only with the forehand volley; avoids backhand volley and overhead. Incomplete service motion. Toss is inconsistent. Double faults are common. Recommended practice-to-play-ratio is 8 hours of practice for every 1 hour of game time.

2.5

Can rally consistently 10 balls in a row, especially on the forehand, with an arched trajectory over the net when the objective is to hit to a partner at moderate speed. In singles, consistent when returning towards the middle of the court. In doubles, difficulty returning cross-court to start the point. Becoming at ease at the net in practice but uncomfortable in a game situation. Attempting a full service motion on the first serve. First serve in inconsistent (less than 50%). Uses an incomplete motion to ensure a steady second serve. Recommended practice-to-play-ratio is 7 hours of practice for every 1 hour of game time.

3.0

Able torally consistently 10 balls in a row on forehands and backhands. Able to maintain the rally when receiving high, short or wide balls, assuming theball is received at a moderate pace, especially on the forehand stroke. Can control the direction of the ball in both singles and doubles, when receiving a serve of moderate pace. Very consistent on forehand volley with easy balls, inconsistent on backhand volley. Overall has difficulty with low and wide balls. Can smash easy lobs. Full motion on both serves. Able to achieve more than 50% success on first serve. Second serve much slower than first serve. Recommended practice-to-play-ratio is 6 hours of practice for every 1 hour of game time.

3.5

Able to move the opponent around the court or hit harder when receiving easier balls. Can execute approach shots with some consistency (more than 50%). Can return fast serves or well-placed serves with defensive actions. On easy second serve, can return with pace or directional control; can approach the net in doubles. Becoming confident at net play; can direct FH volleys; controls BH volley but with little offense; general difficulty in putting volleys away. Can handle volleys and overheads that require moderate movement. Can vary the speed or direction of first serve. Can direct the second serve to the opponent’s weakness without double-faulting on a regular basis. Recommended practice-to-play-ratio is 5 hours of practice for every 1 hour of game time.

4.0

Able to develop points with some consistency by using a reliable combination of shots. Erratic when attempting a quality shot, when receiving fast or wide balls, and when attempting passing shots. Difficulty in returning spin serves and very fast serves. On moderately paced serves, can construct the point through hitting a good shot or exploiting an opponent’s weakness. In doubles, can vary returns effectively on moderately-paced serves. In singles, comfortable at following an approach shot to the net. In doubles, comfortable receiving a variety of balls and converting to offensive positioning; can poach on weak returns of serve. Able to put away easy overheads. Can vary the speed and direction of the first serve. Uses spin. Recommended practice-to-play-ratio is 4 hours of practice for every 1 hour of game time.

4.5

Can use a variety of spins. Beginning to develop a dominant shot or good steadiness. Erratic when attempting a quality shot in two of the following situations: receiving fast balls, wide balls, and in passing shot situations. Off first serves, can defend consistently but very inconsistent (less then 30%) when attempting an aggressive return. In doubles, has difficulty (less than 50%) returning a first serve at the feet of the incoming serve and volleyer. When coming to the net after serving, consistently able to put the first volley in play but without pace or depth; however, inconsistent when trying to volley powerful or angled returns. Close to the net, can finish a point using various options including drop volley, angle volley, punch volley. Aggressive first serve with power and spin. On second serve frequently hits with good depth and placement without double faults. Can serve and volley off first serves in doubles, but experiences some inconsistency. Recommended practice-to-play-ratio is 3 hours of practice for every 1 hour of game time.

5.0

Able to maintain a consistent rally, 10 balls in a row on faster balls. Very steady strokes or has a dominant shot. Periodically succeeds (50%) when attempting a quality shot when receiving fast or wide balls, and in passing shot situations. Periodically succeeds (50%) at aggressive return off fast first serves using dominant shot (forehand or backhand). In doubles can return at the feet of serve andvolleyer. In doubles, after the serve, has a good, deep crosscourt volley. Overhead can be hit from almost any position. First serve can win points outright, or force a weak return. Second serve can prevent the opponent from attacking. Serve and volleys on first serves in doubles with consistency. Recommended practice-to-play-ratio is 2 hours of practice for every 1 hour of game time.

5.5

This player has developed a gamestyle which is recognizable as either an all court player, an aggressive baseliner, a serve and volleyer, or a retriever. Has developed good anticipation either technically (can read toss on serve, body position…) or tactically (can read opponents tendencies in specific situations). Has no major weaknesses and can counterattack effectively against a hard ball, wide ball or in passing shot situations. Capable of competing in "open" category provincial level tournaments. Ability to use specific shots in order to exploit opponent’s weakness: drop-shot, lob, angle, moonball… Recommended practice-to-play-ratio is 2 hours of practice for every 1 hour of game time.

6.0-7.0

These players will generally not need a rating. 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 provincial and/or national "open" ranking. The 6.5 player has extensive international "open" level tournament experience at the entry professional level (challenger or satellite experience). The 7.0 is a world class professional tennis player. Recommended practice-to-play-ratio is 2 hours of practice for every 1 hour of game time.
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Tennis Lessons Focused on Your Needs

Tennis Serve Lessons
Tennis Serve Lessons
Imagine for a minute that you are a tennis instructor looking at your newest class of students. At one end of the spectrum you have a young man who dreams of being a pro. He idolizes Novak Djokovic and sees your lessons as the first step on a road that will lead him to the US Open.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have Mrs. Johnson, a fifty-six year old woman who spends most of her time in the garden or out walking her Shetland Collie. Her goal is to learn how to rally well enough to hit the tennis ball around with her pre-teen grandchildren when they come to stay with her next month.

Between these two extremes you have three other players. One is taking tennis lessons in the hopes that he can learn to serve better and maybe improve his backhand. His goal is to finally beat his brother, who has been beating him at tennis for the past fifteen years.

The other two players arrived together. They are friends have been playing with each other for a while but want to improve enough to start playing in tennis tournaments. Even these two players, though, are do not have identical needs because one is a phys. ed. teacher runs two or three times every week. The other is an office worker who gets his exercise only from tennis and only on weekends.

Imagine trying to put together a lesson plan that will satisfy the needs of all five of these five tennis players. Now imagine trying to do that without first knowing what their backgrounds or goals are. Do you think you would be successful?

It is essential for tennis instructors to know something about where students are coming from and where they want to go if they wish to see their students benefit from their lessons.

Players who want to learn how to rally have needs that are very different from players who dream, one day, of playing in the US Open. The same is true when it comes to differing fitness levels; a young woman who runs 10 miles a week may not have the same goals and abilities as a middle-aged guy who sits at a desk all day.

In an ideal world, every tennis pro would come into every lesson knowing exactly where students are coming from and exactly where they are heading so that he can adjust his lesson plan accordingly. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case in the real world of tennis instruction. Such questions, if they come at all, usually come at the very beginning of the very first lesson.

Therefore my advice to students who sign up for tennis lessons is to get this information on the table as quickly as possible — preferably in the first five minutes of the start of your program. If the instructor doesn’t ask, bring it up any way.

Most classes begin with introductions that give students an opportunity to state their name and tell the group something about themselves. Included in this introduction should be a simple statement describing where you are coming from and what you hope to get out of the lessons. By doing this you will help the instructor understand your needs as a person and as a tennis player.

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Ouch!! Avoid Cold Weather Groin Pulls

Groin Injury
Groin Injury
It’s the end of March and spring is arriving across North America. For outdoor tennis players on the West Coast spring is already well underway. For players in the Northern US and in southern Ontario, tennis has been plausible if not convincingly possible everywhere for a couple of weeks now.

In Western Canada, where I live, hardcore players will begin hitting the outdoor tennis courts sometime in April. Nets are already up and waiting in many cities. Community nets will follow by about the middle of the month — weather permitting.

But is it wise to play tennis when the mercury is sitting at or below the 5° mark? Depending on who you talk to, that’s a debatable question.

Experts generally recognize five risk factors when it comes to groin injuries.

  1. Explosive movements
  2. Fatigue
  3. Tight groin muscles
  4. Overexertion
  5. Cold weather

Tennis requires explosive movements. Even players who are “just rallying” will often move explosively when a sudden burst of speed is needed to chase down a wide or shallow return.

Tennis also leads to fatigue and overexertion. And for many recreational players — especially those who have not spent the winter playing indoor tennis — their fitness level is especially poor at the beginning of the season when the weather is the coldest.

Cold weather, therefore, presents a real danger to recreational tennis players. The chances of suffering a level 1 or level 2 groin pull when the temperature is hovering just above zero is real and substantial.

Players must take great care to undertake a full and proper warm up. They must also be vigilantly aware of their body temperature, especially when playing rec-level doubles matches during which there can be long periods of little activity.

Whenever this happens, it is likely that their groin muscles will cool down and tighten up. At this point, the risk of suffering a muscle tear from a sudden, explosive movement becomes a very real possibility.

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Tennis Serve Rules: Net Posts

Tennis Serve
Tennis Serve
Tyler asks by email: “If I serve in tennis and the ball hits the top of the post but bounces off and lands in on the other side of the net, is this a let? I think it is a let because if my serve hits the top of the net and lands in, it’s a let.

A lot of people think that, Tyler. However, that’s not the case.

In tennis, the net and the cable that holds the net up are considered to be part of the court. Therefore if a ball touches either of them and lands in during a rally the play will continue. If it touches either of them and lands in during a serve, a let will be called.

The posts are also consider to be part of the net during a rally. Therefore, if a ball hits a net post and lands in during a rally, it’s a good ball and the rally continues.

However, on the serve, the rules are different. Posts are considered to be out during the serve. So if your serve hits a post and then lands in the correct court, the correct call is fault, not let.

Section 19, subsection C states: “The service is a fault if the ball served touches a permanent fixture, singles stick or net post before it hits the ground.”

And since the rule does not differentiate between the top of the post and/or any other part of the post, any ball that touches any part of the post on a serve must be called a fault, even if it lands in the correct court.

I hope this answers your question, Tyler. If not, please let me know by posting follow-up questions below. I am happy to respond and clarify things for you — and everybody else who is wondering about the same thing.

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Tennis Rules: WHEN TO SERVE & RECEIVE

Rules of Tennis 2010. Published by the International Tennis Federation.

21. WHEN TO SERVE & RECEIVE

The server shall not serve until the receiver is ready. However, the receiver shall play to the reasonable pace of the server and shall be ready to receive within a reasonable time of the server being ready.

A receiver who attempts to return the service shall be considered as being ready. If it is demonstrated that the receiver is not ready, the service cannot be called a fault.

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Tennis Rules: CONTINUOUS PLAY

Rules of Tennis 2010. Published by the International Tennis Federation.

29. CONTINUOUS PLAY

As a principle, play should be continuous, from the time the match starts (when the first service of the match is put in play) until the match finishes.

a. Between points, a maximum of twenty (20) seconds is allowed. When the players change ends at the end of a game, a maximum of ninety (90) seconds are allowed. However, after the first game of each set and during a tie-break game, play shall be continuous and the players shall change ends without a rest.

At the end of each set there shall be a set break of a maximum of one hundred and twenty (120) seconds.

The maximum time starts from the moment that one point finishes until the first service is struck for the next point.

Event organisers may apply for ITF approval to extend the ninety (90) seconds allowed when the players change ends at the end of a game and the one hundred and twenty (120) seconds allowed at a set break.

b. If, for reasons outside the player’s control, clothing, footwear or necessary equipment (excluding the racket) is broken or needs to be replaced, the player may be allowed reasonable extra time to rectify the problem.

c. No extra time shall be given to allow a player to recover condition. However, a player suffering from a treatable medical condition may be allowed one medical time-out of three minutes for the treatment of that medical condition.

A limited number of toilet/change of attire breaks may also be allowed, if this is announced in advance of the event.

d. Event organisers may allow a rest period of a maximum of ten (10) minutes if this is announced in advance of the event. This rest period can be taken after the 3rd set in a best of 5 sets match, or after the 2nd set in a best of 3 sets match.

e. The warm-up time shall be a maximum of five (5) minutes, unless otherwise decided by the event organisers.

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Tennis Rules: CORRECTING ERRORS

Rules of Tennis 2010. Published by the International Tennis Federation.

27. CORRECTING ERRORS

As a principle, when an error in respect of the Rules of Tennis is discovered, all points previously played shall stand. Errors so discovered shall be corrected as follows:

a. During a standard game or a tie-break game, if a player serves from the wrong half of the court, this should be corrected as soon as the error is discovered and the server shall serve from the correct half of the court according to the score. A fault that was served before the error was discovered shall stand.

b. During a standard game or a tie-break game, if the players are at the wrong ends of the court, the error should be corrected as soon as it is discovered and the server shall serve from the correct end of the court according to the score.

c. If a player serves out of turn during a standard game, the player who was originally due to serve shall serve as soon as the error is discovered. However, if a game is completed before the error is discovered the order of service shall remain as altered. In this case, any ball change to be made after an agreed number of games should be made one game later than originally scheduled.

A fault that was served by the opponents(s) before the error was discovered shall not stand.

In doubles, if the partners of one team serve out of turn, a fault that was served before the error was discovered shall stand.

d. If a player serves out of turn during a tie-break game and the error is discovered after an even number of points have been played, the error is corrected immediately. If the error is discovered after an odd number of points have been played, the order of service shall remain as altered.

A fault that was served by the opponent(s) before the error was discovered shall not stand.

In doubles, if the partners of one team serve out of turn, a fault that was served before the error was discovered shall stand.

e. During a standard game or a tie-break game in doubles, if there is an error in the order of receiving, this shall remain as altered until the end of the game in which the error is discovered. For the next game in which they are the receivers in that set, the partners shall then resume the original order of receiving.

f. If in error a tie-break game is started at 6 games all, when it was previously agreed that the set would be an “Advantage set”, the error shall be corrected immediately if only one point has been played. If the error is discovered after the second point is in play, the set will continue as a “Tie-break set”.

g. If in error a standard game is started at 6 games all, when it was previously agreed that the set would be a “Tie-break set”, the error shall be corrected immediately if only one point has been played. If the error is discovered after the second point is in play, the set will continue as an “Advantage set” until the score reaches 8 games all (or a higher even number), when a tie-break game shall be played.

h. If in error an “Advantage set” or “Tie-break set” is started, when it was previously agreed that the final set would be a match tie-break, the error shall be corrected immediately if only one point has been played. If the error is discovered after the second point is in play, the set will continue either until a player or team wins three games (and therefore the set) or until the score reaches 2 games all, when a match tie-break shall be played. However, if the error is discovered after the second point of the fifth game has started, the set will continue as a “Tie-break set”. (See Appendix IV)

i. If the balls are not changed in the correct sequence, the error shall be corrected when the player/team who should have served with new balls is next due to serve a new game. Thereafter the balls shall be changed so that the number of games between ball changes shall be that originally agreed.

Balls should not be changed during a game.

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Tennis Rules: HINDRANCE

Rules of Tennis 2010. Published by the International Tennis Federation.

26. HINDRANCE

If a player is hindered in playing the point by a deliberate act of the opponent(s), the player shall win the point.

However, the point shall be replayed if a player is hindered in playing the point by either an unintentional act of the opponent(s), or something outside the player’s own control (not including a permanent fixture).

Case 1: Is an unintentional double hit a hindrance?
Decision: No. See also Rule 24 (f).

Case 2: A player claims to have stopped play because the player thought that the opponent(s) was being hindered. Is this a hindrance?
Decision: No, the player loses the point.

Case 3: A ball in play hits a bird flying over the court. Is this a hindrance?
Decision: Yes, the point shall be replayed.

Case 4: During a point, a ball or other object that was lying on the player’s side of the net when the point started hinders the player. Is this a hindrance?
Decision: No.

Case 5: In doubles, where are the server’s partner and receiver’s partner allowed to stand?
Decision: The server’s partner and the receiver’s partner may take any position on their own side of the net, inside or outside the court. However, if a player is creating a hindrance to the opponent(s), the hindrance rule should be used.

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Tennis Lesson: Learn How to Serve

Brent Johner is a certified tennis, squash, badminton and pickleball coach
Brent Johner is a certified tennis, squash, badminton and pickleball coach
After reading my blog entry earlier this week — Tennis Lessons: How to Play, Practice, Improve — Gwen wondered about the following: “How is it possible to practice tennis serves while standing at the service line? Shouldn’t serves be practiced from the baseline?”

Good questions.

Let me answer them by saying that beginners who are learning how to serve have different objectives in practice than intermediate tennis players who are learning how to improve their serve.

More than anything else, beginners need to learn and practice service motions and rhythms. Since a good tennis serve is primarily about timing, players who are learning how to serve must focus the bulk of their practice time on the service motion itself rather than on hitting balls and trying to get them in. For beginners, that part comes later.

Intermediate tennis players, by contrast, have already learned the components of the serve motion. Generally speaking, they can put all of the serve components together in a continuous, fluid motion.

Therefore when intermediate players head out to the tennis court to practice their serve, it makes perfect sense for them to head straight to the baseline with a basket of tennis balls. They already know how to get their serve in. What they need to practice are the rest of the five elements that make up a good tennis serve: placement, depth, spin and power.

The best place for a beginner to begin the process of learning how to get the serve in, is on the service line. By standing at the service line and practicing their service motion, they will quickly develop a serving rhythm that is essential to their serving success.

As they become more comfortable with the rhythm of the serve and as they learn how to get the ball over the net and into the proper court, they can begin to move back in stages toward the baseline.

Eventually, they will get all the way back to the baseline and begin serving from there. Once they get there, however, they really won’t be able to call themselves beginners anymore. Nor will their smooth, fluid serving motion lead anybody watching to believe that they are relatively new to tennis.

They will look like they know what they are doing. And from that will come the confidence that they actually do know what they are doing.