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Dear ITA Division I Coach:

I’d like to announce an exciting new tool that the ITA has arranged to offer you on a complimentary basis for the rest of the summer. Universal Tennis (UT), in association with the ITA, has been working on collecting all of the collegiate match results over the past year to build a nation-wide “universal” singles rating for all competitive players. UT has now made it possible for us to see the relative level of every player within the U.S. competitive system, whether it be junior, collegiate, ITF, or professional. The ITA Operating Committee has been reviewing Universal’s ratings, as has the ITA staff, and found them to very satisfyingly congruent with the ITA ranking system. Many of you who were at the ITA convention, or more recently, the NCAAs at Stanford, were impressed by UT’s demonstration of their progress. Please read further for instructions on how to signup for your complimentary membership.

Since collegiate coaches are some of the most influential “levers of influence” in the game today, we’d like you to be well informed about this initiative. About a year and a half ago I wrote a white paper outlining the efficiencies to be gained by moving from an age-based system to a level-based system (such as France). This initiative gained the attention of incoming USTA President Jon Vegosen, formerly chairman of the USTA Collegiate Committee. As a result, this initiative is now being examined at multiple levels within the USTA.

Although I have no personal stake in Universal, I have come to greatly respect Universal’s efforts to improve American competitive tennis. Thanks to research by Dave Howell, the originator of Universal, we now know that a typical USTA sectional tournament yields a match that reaches a “Competitive Threshold” about 25% of the time, while the ITA and ATP tour events reach this threshold about 70% of the time. We have attached the two white papers on ratings, and the changes that become possible in tournament structures with ratings. The papers are lengthy, but will help you understand the enormous impact that this initiative could soon have on you and your program. It also represents the greatest point of leverage that we have to improve American tennis. This is why we need you to be well informed and your feedback is so important.

Along with the ITA Board, there now seems to be a consensus among leaders in the USTA who now recognize that the change to level-based play would allow players to be grouped more efficiently with players of similar levels, which will in turn produce more matches which reach the Competitive Threshold. Research on skill acquisition and elite development has demonstrated how increasing the percentage of “competitive” matches will accelerate the speed of development of our junior players (while also reducing costs of travel and missed school time, by allowing more play locally against players across the age spectrum). Jon Vegosen noted in his inaugural speech that, in addition to helping to facilitate the development of our players, that such a change could indeed make tennis “The Sport of Opportunity.”

College coaches, juniors and parents of juniors who want to play in college, will be among the primary beneficiaries of this new system. To help UT tailor their website most directly to the needs of us all, we would now like your help in examining UT’s promising body of work, courtesy of David Benjamin and the ITA Board, who have worked with UT to make it possible for you to receive this complimentary summer membership.

You will find that the Universal Tennis Ratings will not only help you to dial in more exactly on the ability of potential recruits, but will also provide a more accurate gauge for potential recruits to determine whether they have a realistic chance of earning a spot on your squad. In addition, because it will tell both you and your players how they compare to other collegiate players across all divisions, it will give your players (and your conference rivals!) more motivation to continue to work on their own games, and a “GPS-like” tool for locating the level of tournament that will fit their level during the summer.

Many, particularly those coaches who have seen first-hand how well the French rating and tournament system works, recognize that American tennis needs this change. We believe that the voices of 1500 ITA coaches should be heard, since the USTA now recognizes that college tennis is the goal for 99.9 % of American competitive players. However, the USTA is a bulky organization, and there are major roadblocks still to be faced that could derail this important initiative. You can help make this initiative a reality if you are informed enough to weigh in intelligently on its merits.

Please let us know what you think about the Universal Tennis website, the ratings of the particular populations of players with whom you are most familiar, and the features that would be most helpful to you, your players, or your recruits. You can write directly to Dave Howell of Universal at: dave@universaltennis.com. To register for your complimentary membership, log in now at www.universaltennis.com. Sign up for the Premium product, not the Basic one. You can signup to access the men’s or women’s data, or both. On the cart checkout window use the discount code “ITA” to receive free access to the premium service for the rest of the summer.



Dave Fish
Head Coach of Men’s Tennis
Harvard University

PS. Please feel free to show the Universal website to other interested parties, but keep your password confidential. DII and DIII results are still in the process of being inputted, so DII and DIII coaches have not yet received an invitation. As soon as this process is finished, they will receive a similar invitation.