Modernising Tennis Plan
How do I compare?
A SNEAK PEEK AT THE ITF WORLD TENNIS NUMBER
Jono Spring · 12 April 2022
Anyone who has ever played competitive sport in general, will often have a similar based question that they ask themselves… “How do I compare to others?”
In team sports this can be a very tough question to answer accurately, simply because in team sports it can be difficult to measure the impact of a single player.
However, in individual sports such as golf, squash, swimming, athletic and tennis, there are often grading systems in place that allow you to compare yourself against other competitors of your chosen sport. And just in case you think that this would often only apply to the very best, think again. I can think of plenty of examples of your ‘average Joe’ wanting to know roughly where-abouts they fit compared to other ‘average Joes’ out there.
Knowing that this example fits all, it begins to make sense that it caters for players at all levels, and the current ITF World Tennis Number (WTN) ranking system does just that.
A real time skill level rating, that grades your ranking against all results on a weekly basis.
Let’s be honest, how good is that?!
I was involved right at the beginning when TOPDOG was first brought into Tennis NZ. This was a revolutionary step for ranking tennis in our country… albeit a massive workload at the time, with loading all of the current players of that era into a new software system, allocating them codes, grades and personal details was a huge undertaking.
But hey, it was cool, somewhat addictive mind you, but it was really neat to be able to see all of the results from my matches, compare head-to-head matches against opponents, and to see how opponents of mine had fared against other mutual opponents over time.
This national NZ grading system, which has gone through a couple of name changes throughout its time and is now referred to as ‘Match Hub’ has been a great tool for seeding players for tournaments as well as grading teams for interclub and representative fixtures. While it took a few years admittedly for it to become as accurate as it now is, we got there.
Imagine this grading system, but on steroids… Instead of the few thousand New Zealand players that we compare ourselves to, try the 1.2 million across the globe in over 135 different nations.
You will have the ability to compare yourself to a club player in Ireland, a junior representative in Japan, a tournament player in Mexico and the list goes on! With a point system that ranges from 1 – 40 and incorporates all that is in between, you can find equal and equivalent players around the world. With the knowledge of how your level of tennis can relate and compare on a global scale is a tool so powerful and informative, that the hairs on the back of my neck are tingling just thinking about it!
For those who are familiar with Match Hub, there will be many similarities and you will understand the concept of having a regularly updated grading system. The advantages of moving into WTN are obvious, but the real advantages will undoubtably become more aware over time, once the players have had a chance to become embedded in the system and see the full benefits as they travel or play regular competitive matches.
What does it mean for a player like me?
Well, I haven’t played regularly lately… a new career in Real Estate post professional tennis coaching has soaked up much of my recreational space for the meantime… However, as I inevitably travel in the future and look to play tennis wherever I go, I know I will have a worldwide recognised grade that can be utilised just about anywhere I end up.
I could be included in competitions and tournaments at any affiliated nation or association around the world, with the knowledge that I can compete on a level playing field based on a grading system that we all share.
On a personal level, my former business partner and quality tennis coach Sam Collins, who now resides in Ireland coaching at Greystones Lawn Tennis Club, will be able to compare his tennis level directly against mine. Sam and I have been great friends ever since we started working together, however we have also been fierce rivals, and there is no denying that there will be a little ‘trash talk’ enter the fray as we are able to pit our World Tennis Number rankings against one another.
I think this will be enough to make more regular competitive tennis playing in the future a priority for me!
Another good friend and former client, Karen Cranston, will find the new WTN ranking system a benefit to her as she competes regularly overseas. Until now, her New Zealand Match Hub rankings have meant little as she competes outside NZ soil, however with a newly integrated ranking system with many other countries around the world, her results in NZ will now add value to her global ranking. A system that will provide insight, and perspective, while being able to compete and continually add value to results over a regular basis.
It appears the transition will be relatively seamless initially, with most of the work being ‘back end’ stuff that will be taken care of from a tennis NZ level.
So all that’s left is for the rest of us to simply start getting excited about the limitless potential of what’s coming.
I for one, cannot wait.
Tennis NZ will be introducing the WTN starting with tournament players soon followed by interclub players in the 2nd half of this year.
Jono is a Manawatu based (former) coach, player and administrator who has been involved in tennis for over 35 years and held nearly every role you can think of in our game. Over the next couple of months Jono will be sharing his perspective, and those of people in the tennis community across New Zealand on why working together and striving to modernize the way we deliver tennis is so important. He contributes popular articles for the Manawatu Standard and Stuff on tennis, known as Jono’s Serve…keeping with the theme, his new series of articles are now called Jono's Return!