As part of the 2013 USTA League Tennis Restructuring, the NTRP (National Tennis Rating Program) rating levels in the Adult 18 & Over and Adult 40 & Over league divisions will feature "plus levels," which will allow for teams to have two players on their roster from the next-higher NTRP rating level.
The Adult 18 & Over 5.0+ level will allow two 5.5-rated players on a team roster, and the Adult 40 & Over 4.5+ level will allow two 5.0-rated players on a team roster. Lower level players on a plus-level team cannot play above the higher-rated players on a team.
For the Adult 18 & Over 5.0+ NTRP level, which in 2013 will feature one singles and two doubles team matches, only one 5.5 player shall be allowed to play in a team match, and shall be required to play in the No. 1 position in either singles or doubles.
For the Adult 40 & Over 4.5+ level, which in 2013 will feature two singles and three doubles team matches, up to two 5.0 players may play in a team match, and shall be required to play in the No. 1 position, either singles or doubles.
Plus-level players will be included in the USTA Florida Section Rule # 1.04D(5) "75 percent rule," which states that at least 75 percent of players on a team roster must be playing at the given NTRP level of the team (example: at least 75 percent of players on a 5.0 team roster must be 5.0 players).
"We in Florida are very excited about the addition of these new USTA League National Regulations bringing the higher-level players back into the game," said USTA Florida Director of Leagues Sandy Marshall. "We have many avid tennis professionals and college players who have had no place to participate in the USTA League program due to their high level of play. This provides those players the team camaraderie and opportunity to compete again at the higher level, making USTA local league play more fun and challenging than ever."
The new USTA National League Championship divisions and levels for 2013 will be:
Adult 18 & Over 2.5, 5.0+ -- 1 singles, 2 doubles
Adult 18 & Over 3.0, 3.5, 4.0. 4.5 -- 2 singles, 3 doubles
Adult 40 & Over 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5+ -- 2 singles, 3 doubles
Adult 55 & Over 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5 -- 3 doubles
Mixed 18 & Over 2.5, 6.0, 7.0, 8.0, 9.0, 10.0 -- 3 doubles
Additional Florida-only USTA Florida League Section Championships divisions and levels for 2013 will be:
Adult 65 & Over 6.0, 7.0, 8.0, 9.0 -- 3 doubles
Mixed 40 & Over 6.0, 7.0, 8.0, 9.0 -- 3 doubles
Mixed 55 & Over 6.0, 7.0, 8.0 -- 3 doubles
The Florida-only USTA League divisions will offer Florida Section championships, but not a national championship in 2013. Future national championships in these divisions will be contingent on the growth of the divisions at the USTA Section levels. Also for the roll-out year of the new league divisions in 2013 in Florida, all local league champion teams will advance directly to the Florida Section (state) championships for their age division, bypassing the regional championships levels.
"I believe we are going to see many more close competitive matches at all NTRP levels in both the adult and mixed divisions of play under this national realignment," Marshall says.
The decision to change the USTA League structure was made to better distribute participants among age categories, and to better align participants with players their own age. Data research, player surveys and player focus groups conducted by the USTA and its partners clearly indicated a need for age restructuring in order to provide more and better play opportunities, both for competitive and social reasons. Research indicates that age restructuring will in the coming years provide the majority of players with additional play opportunities and produce more competitive match play, which will result in more accurate NTRP player ratings.