It’s That Time Again


I just received notice from TennisRecruitingNetwork that its 2014 Winter Star Rating Period will begin the week of January 6 and run through the week of February 24. That means that your child’s rating for the next 6 months will be based on his/her results over this 8-week period.

For a refresher on how TennisRecruiting calculates rankings and star ratings, I’ve copy-and-pasted my previous piece from June 2012 below. Please read and share with your child and his/her coach. Good luck to all our junior players!

By now, most of my readers are probably very familiar with the website.  Well, I recently discovered that the creators of the site, Julie and Doug Wrege, live about a mile and half from my house (!), so I figured I would pick their brains a bit about how the site came into existence as well as the way parents and players should be using the information available on the site to their best advantage.

The first thing to note is that Julie and Doug are not now, nor have they ever been, Tennis Parents; that is to say, none of their children played tournament tennis.  However, Julie is a very accomplished player and college coach in her own right – she started the very successful women’s tennis program at Georgia Tech – and Doug is an internet technology guru – he wrote the very first tennis-related software, Tournament Management System, in the 1980s and was the first to put tournament draws on the Web.  As a result of Julie’s extensive college coaching experience, she knew what the coaches needed to see in terms of player records and rankings, and she wanted to create something better for them to use.  In 2004, with Doug’s help, was born!

Now, the basics of TRN and its Star Rating System . . .

The TRN ratings, done by graduating class, go from Blue Chip (highest) to 1 star (lowest) as follows:

Blue Chip:  top 25 players in the class

5-Star:  players ranked 26-75

4-Star:  players ranked 76-200

3-Star:  players ranked 201-400

2-Star:  players ranked 401 up to a number based on a percentage of the size of that class

1-Star:  a player with any qualifying ranking

TRN looks at 6th graders through 12th graders and ranks 16,000 boys each year out of the approximately 34,000 male junior players currently playing and competing.  They rank about the same number of girls.  Therefore, even a 1-Star player is better than more than half the juniors currently playing tournaments.  Ratings are based solely upon a player’s position within his own high school graduating class year; for example, a 14-year-old high school freshman would be rated independently of a 14-year-old 8th grader even though they are both eligible to play in the 14-and-under age division.

In order to be ranked on TRN, a junior must play in a minimum of 3 TRN-eligible tournaments and win a minimum of 3 matches (2 of which must be over other eligible players). Ratings happen twice a year – at the end of February and the Tuesday after Labor Day in September. Ratings are preceded by an 8-week rating period. The player’s highest ranking during the 8-week rating period will determine that player’s Star Rating per the chart above.

All matches from TRN-eligible events in a one year window are used to compute a player’s ranking, independent of age division or class of the players. In addition, TRN looks at a player’s 8 best wins during that period, averages them, then uses that as one of several complicated (understatement of the year!) mathematical components to determine the final ranking. Ratings, age, and graduation year of a player’s opponents are not used in the calculation. Previous rankings are not used to determine current rankings – TRN starts from scratch for each week’s ranking. It is important to note that wins never hurt a player’s ranking and losses never help it.  Also, “retirement” of a match counts as a loss but a “walkover” does not.

Matches are weighed according to when they were played.  A win today counts more than a win against the same opponent six months ago.  This is one way that TRN makes it very difficult to “play” their rating system or “buy” rankings.  For your player to improve his ranking on TRN, he should be sure to enter tournaments where he can win some matches but NOT where he is, by far, the best player in the draw.  As Doug says, “Winning makes you feel good.  Losing makes you learn something.”  Because of the extensive analysis that goes into the TRN rankings, college coaches consider them to be a better predictor of player quality and who’s going to beat whom in head-to-head competition.

How should players and parents use TRN?  During the Middle School years, TRN is just another tool at players’ fingertips to track their progress and that of their peers.  Parents should check their child’s profile using the Free Account option and make sure all the information is correct – if it’s not, then you can either make the corrections yourself or contact TRN if you have any questions or problems.  There are also some very useful articles on the TRN site written by experts in the junior tennis world – take advantage of this free tool to educate yourself and your child during these important developmental years.

Once a player enters High School, you might want to consider buying a TRN Recruiting Advantage membership so you can see which college coaches are looking at your child’s Player Profile.  The membership also allows you to upload gallery photos, videos, and article references mentioning your child.  It is well worth the $49.95 annual fee!  But, here’s a great tip from Doug:  if you have multiple tennis players in your family or are on a limited budget, pay only for a membership for your oldest child then use that account to do everything on the website for all of your children except see the coach visits and upload the photos, videos, and articles.  Once the oldest graduates high school, cancel the account and get one for the next child.  Another great tip from Doug is that you can buy a monthly membership (which renews automatically), load all the information you want during that first month, then cancel the account.  The information will stay on your child’s profile, but you will no longer be paying the monthly membership fee.  To cancel the account, simply click on the Member Services link at the top of the page then un-check the “Auto Renew” option.  Voila!

Given that Doug is giving away these money-saving tips, let me share how generates its revenue.  Initially, TRN’s biggest source of income came from players signing up for an enriched profile with the Recruiting Advantage membership.  On top of that, the college coaches pay TRN to have access to the player information.  Very recently, however, TRN started selling advertising on its website, which has now become its largest source of revenue.  If you’re a user of TRN, please consider using the advertiser links on the site in order to help TRN continue to offer its free services!

I want to emphasize that TRN is about much more than player rankings.  Doug and Julie are working tirelessly in the junior tennis community to ensure that more kids have the opportunity for cross-sectional play and that they have the opportunity to play college tennis if that’s their goal.  With the recent changes in the USTA National Tournament Schedule and smaller draw sizes, the Wreges have their work cut out for them.  They are currently working with tournament directors around the US to encourage more open events, even if it won’t impact the player’s USTA ranking, by designating tournaments as “Historically Strong” so that the players have an opportunity to improve their TRN ranking and become a TRN “National Player” (one who has won a match in a USTA National Level 1-3 event or other event that counts toward a USTA national ranking).  The upcoming Georgia State Junior Open will be the first of these tournaments – information on that tourney is online here.

This is a lot of information to digest – I know! – but please do yourself and your child a favor and do some poking around on the TRN site.  Familiarize yourself with their ratings and rankings.  Read the articles, especially the Q&As with the different college coaches if that’s your child’s goal.  Make sure your child’s information and player record are correct.  If your child is in high school, upgrade to the paid membership, at least for a period of time.  It will be time and money well-spent.

TRN’s National Showcase Series


As I’ve been posting on Facebook and Tweeting this week, recently announced its National Showcase Series for 2013.

Per the email I received yesterday from TRN, the National Showcase Tournaments are designed to give players a chance to compete outside of their districts and sections.  They are seeking to fill the gap left by USTA’s 2013 and 2014 junior competition calendar changes, some of which limit players to competing within their own section or region.  While the TRN events will NOT count toward USTA national rankings, they WILL count toward USTA sectional or district ranking (if the player is competing in one of these events held in his/her own section or district of residence) as well as a player’s ranking and star rating on  It’s important to note that players who choose to compete in National Showcase events held OUTSIDE their section or district of residence will not receive USTA ranking points but will still get credit toward their TRN ranking and star rating.

TRN’s Dallas Oliver says, “The idea of these National Showcase tournaments is to provide meaningful cross-play between different areas that will provide more data for meaningful national rankings. We have gotten a lot of positive feedback so far – players and parents appreciate having more choices. And the tournament directors we have on board so far have great reputations for running quality tournaments.  We think that this tournament series has a lot of positive qualities. These are USTA-sanctioned events, so players and their families will get a familiar experience. But the tournaments will not be on the USTA national schedule, which obviates the concerns many had about ‘point-chasing’. At the same time, these tournaments will count for Tennis Recruiting rankings, and so there are rewards for players to compete in them.”

Tournaments in the National Showcase are “open” tournaments. Entries for these tournaments will be open to all USTA players, regardless of residence. The bulk of these tournaments are scheduled during the summer or on long holiday weekends to accommodate travel and reduce missed school days.  Players and parents need to look at their section’s 2013 tournament schedule to find out the level of those Showcase events held within their section. In the Southern section, for example, some of the Showcases are Southern Level 3s and some are Southern Level 4s, and USTA ranking points will be awarded accordingly.

I asked TRN’s founder, Julie Wrege, why they decided to get USTA sanctioning for the Showcases.  She told me that a USTA sanction insures that the rules of tennis will be followed, certified officials will be used at the tournament, scheduling will be done according to the rules, and results will be published on TennisLink.  I expressed my concern that USTA would see the Showcases as filling in the gap left by the elimination of several national events and use them to justify the 2013 and 2014 changes.  Julie feels that the Showcases will not take the place of anything that is proposed or is going on now.  These tournaments carry no USTA points at the national level – and only at the section level if sanctioned by a section – and only at a district level if sanctioned by a district.  She went on to say that the sections need to have a lot more sectional play – and these few events scattered across the country will not fill that gap.

It is important to note:

  • All events in a National Showcase tournaments will count for Tennis Recruiting national rankings.
  • A player who competes in one of these events and has a win – in the main draw or a consolation event – will become a Tennis Recruiting National Player.
  • Entry into these events is open to all USTA players, regardless of residence.
  • Acceptance will start with the USTA National Rankings – followed by the USTA sectional and district rankings.

Here is the current schedule of National Showcase tournaments. Several more tournaments will be added to this 2013 schedule as their USTA sanctions are finalized:

Costa Mesa, CA
BG18H. Lloyd
Dothan, AL
BG18-16D. Bryan
Bainbridge, GA
BG14-12T. Thompson
Louisville, KY
BG18-12C. Mather
Ojai, CA
G18, BG16-14C. Fugle
Rome, GA
BG18-12R. Sasseville
Newport News, VA
BG18-12S. Dearth
La Jolla, CA
BG18-12B. Davis
Jacksonville, FL
BG18-12R. Jenks
San Diego, CA
BG18-12A. Podney
Rome, GA
BG18-12R. Sasseville
Costa Mesa, CA
BG18-12H. Lloyd
Norcross, GA
BG18-14C. Chapin
Santa Clara, CA
BG18-16J. Scalese
Santa Clara, CA
BG14-12J. Scalese
St. Louis, MO
BG18-12J. Dippold
Louisville, KY
BG18-12C. Mather
St. Louis, MO
B18-12J. Dippold
Norcross, GA
BG18-16C. Chapin
Norcross, GA
BG14-12T. Berne
Tucson, AZ
BG18-12M. Houk

Again, according to Dallas Oliver, “We are excited to have 20 tournaments on the schedule so far, and we are reasonably pleased with how they are spread around the country. There are clearly some areas – like New England and the mid-Atlantic region – where we need to do better. Hopefully players and parents can talk to their favorite tournament directors about running a National Showcase tournament – we would love to hear from them!”

As you can see above, the first Showcase Tournament is the Costa Mesa Open – an 18s event that takes place the week before New Year’s in Costa Mesa, Calif. If you are interested in that one, register now at their tournament page on TennisLink or contact Hank Lloyd at But hurry – entries close next Thursday, December 20!  For TRN’s FAQ on the National Showcase Series, click here.

One last note from the folks at TRN: “At the end of the day, we feel that the more choices there are, the better. These National Showcase tournaments should provide more of these choices without interfering with the goals that the USTA has put forward for earned advancement.”