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Ask USTA Florida: New NTRP Ratings, USTA Salaries

December 9, 2009 06:00 PM
Ask USTA Florida -- December 2009

By Rick Vach

Each month USTA Florida staff will answer three questions from the number of questions we regularly receive regarding leagues, rankings, tournaments, seeding, and various other topics on tennis in the Sunshine State and beyond:

Q: I saw in the newspaper that a former USTA employee [Arlen Kantarian] was paid $9 million dollars in 2008? Is that where my USTA Florida membership fee goes? How can a non-profit pay someone that much money?

A: Is that where your USTA Florida membership money goes? No.

The US Open generates approximately 80% ($200 million dollars) of the revenues of the USTA. The salaries of all employees associated with the US Open, including Mr. Kantarian's, are more than covered by the US Open revenues, and not covered by USTA section membership revenues.

We also need to make a distinction between the USTA national organization and the 17 non-profit regional sections of the USTA, one of which is USTA Florida.

"USTA national in New York is a totally separate entity from USTA Florida, with a board of directors that sets their national budget," answers USTA Florida Executive Director Doug Booth. "USTA Florida is an incorporated 501-C4 not-for-profit organization with our own board of directors who set our financial policy and procedures and vote on our budget yearly."
The $9 million compensation reported for 2008 for the former USTA CEO of Professional Tennis Arlen Kantarian consisted of nine years of cumulative bonuses based on nine years of extraordinary results, including a $93 million increase in revenue for the US Open from his tenure in 2000-2008. It was not a one-year salary, and included a one-time contractual bonus obligation from USTA national. When looked at closely, his base salary ($1.6 million) was well in line with positions in similar major sports and entertainment market in the New York area.

The US Open remains the largest yearly attended sporting event in the world.

Q: My NTRP rating went up this month from a 3.0 to 3.5, and so did the ratings of some of my teammates. Were more players bumped up this year than in year's past?

A: As you may know, the NTRP (National Tennis Rating Program) was developed by the USTA back in 1979 to ensure equitable competition between league players. Beginning players start at a 1.0 rating, up to college players and teaching pros who generally fall in the 5.0-5.5 level, and 6.0-7.0 for touring pro-level players. The majority of experienced players fall in the 3.0-3.5 rating.

This year the NTRP system was "tweaked" to better level the playing field -- 70% of players stayed where they were (with some moving down), and approximately 30% of players nationally had their ratings moved up.

"The USTA National Oversight Group (NOG) has been under fire for some time to do something regarding the accuracy of the NTRP computer year-end ratings," explains USTA Florida Director of League Tennis Sandy Marshall. "Captains and players have questioned how the same teams from Section participate at the National Championships year after year, along with self-rate abuses, match manipulation, players playing up, and sand bagging etc.

"NOG determined, based on its own data as well as input from players, and captains, National and Section staff members and National Championships tournament staff, there has been a disconnect over the years between observed characteristics of players on court as compared to the NTRP guidelines and found it necessary to realign players' ratings with the NTRP guidelines. The subcommittee studied and determined that out of almost 312,000 players, approximately 94,000 needed to be moved up. NOG has made adjustments like this since the USTA Leagues went to dynamic ratings in 2003. In 2007, 60,066 players were moved up and in 2008, 49,513 players were promoted to the next level.

"These changes are going to provide players with much more compatible and competitive matches and leagues which will result in better quality ratings. As a result of the upward movement of a significant number of players, many new teams and additional players will have the opportunity to advance to championship levels of play. There are many reasons why we all play USTA League tennis -- is not just about playing to win, but rather the relationships that are built through this wonderful sport. Let's redefine our personal and team goals and adjust to the new level of play.  See you on the courts!"

Q: I've played tennis with friends for years informally. Now I want to play league tennis for the first time. How do I find out my rating or what team I should be on?

According to the 2010 USTA Florida League Tennis Regulations:
1.06 Official League Rating Program -- A player without a computer rating is required to declare a self-rating on TennisLink when first entering the USTA League Tennis Program. In making the self-rating decision, the player should consider the NTRP Guidelines (including the General & Experienced Player Guidelines) posted on the TennisLink website; on-court performance against established league players; relevant tennis history including frequency of play and instruction; and general fitness. A player's self-rating shall apply to all divisions of USTA League Tennis until superceded by a computer generated rating (including an "early start rating") established according to the USTA NTRP Computer Rating System."

A local teaching pro can also help you establish a self-rating, and you can compare yourself against league players you know or play against to help gauge a self-rating. For contacts on what leagues/teams you can join, check the ustaflorida.com website under the "microsites" link and to find specific league info for your city, county or region.

Have a question for Ask USTA Florida? E-mail to: news@florida.usta.com






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