Serving Off The Court: Teams Sponsor Meals for Health Care Providers

For USTA Mid-Atlantic players, an adult leagues team means competition, friendship, camaraderie, and fun. But more than that, team members support each other off the court as much as they do on it – especially during a time of crisis like we are in now. For the Northern Virginia adult league team “Smack that Ace,” pulling together as a team to help others not only benefited local health care providers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic but a small business owner as well. What’s more, it inspired an abundance of generosity from other tennis league teams to contribute and help too. 

“Smack that Ace” is a 20-person strong, ladies 4.0 team with players hailing from all over the D.C.-metro area. Led by captain Ami Chastain, the team boasts many accomplishments, including placing 2nd at the USTA League Nationals in 2016.

League Outreach during COVID-19

Accomplished at leading her team on the court, Ami is also leading her team off the court by keeping players connected and in touch during this time of suspended play. During one such outreach, the team realized they had two members in incredibly critical roles that could use some help. The team devised a way to support fellow team member and ICU nurse, Brita Johnson, and her George Washington University Hospital colleagues as well as team member Angela Goodman, owner of Famous Toastery in Ashburn, Va. The plan was for the team to raise $320 to purchase meals from Famous Toastery and Famous Toastery would supply meals to the ICU Nurses at GW Hospital. A gesture to show appreciation to the hard-working nurses on the front lines and a way to support a local business. 

The response was so overwhelming that the team met their goal in just one hour. 

And then the generosity spread. 

As can be the case in metro areas, Brita Johnson also plays tennis on a Washington, D.C. league team with captain Yvonne Mayo-Anderson. Mayo-Anderson heard of the effort and went into action reaching out to her Anderson & Anderson team and they contributed as well. Within roughly 24-hours, the two teams raised more than $2,000 – enough to purchase two nights worth of meals from Famous Toastery for the ICU nurses.

Says “Smack that Ace” team member Rachel Fritz, “given the current social environment, health care providers, first responders, grocery workers, etc are the heroes in our country. We have to thank them and support them in every way we can.”

League Players Serving off court

The generosity did not stop there. Enough money was raised that the teams could afford to reach out and help more people. 

“Three of us are also on a team in Montgomery County, Md., with another nurse and an ER doctor. So we decided to contact that captain and share the wealth,” said Fritz.

And that’s when Rachel contacted team captain Laura Sommers. Sommers and fellow teammate Dawn Johnson are health care providers in  Montgomery County. They were able to arrange for Famous Toastery meal deliveries to Laura and Dawn’s respective health care teams and bring them meals to show their support. 

It is incredible to see how generosity can blossom and spread all throughout our communities. Even the smallest gift can go far beyond what we can imagine and be inspiring.

“This was just a really small way for us to contribute. Tennis friends are amazing and very generous,” Rachel concludes. 

Healthcare workers receiving food donations

USTA Mid-Atlantic is proud of our members who are serving the community during this time of crisis. Let us know how you or your tennis friends are going above and beyond for others and making a difference during the coronavirus pandemic by emailing hughes@mas.usta.com

Click here to find out how you can support USTA Mid-Atlantic, a non-profit organization to make an impact on our region through the power of tennis. 

Year-end Ratings: What You Need to Know

Due to the disruption in League play from COVID-19 USTA has made the decision to not publish 2020 League year-end ratings. This means that your current league rating will transfer to the 2021 League season. Continue reading to learn how dynamic ratings are calculated and what that means for tennis players like you.  

When the USTA League championship year ends, tennis players everywhere anxiously and eagerly await a most highly anticipated time of the year – the moment year-end ratings are published! This is when you’ll know if  your NTRP stayed the same or is adjusted and that can mean a lot for your tennis game.

We know this is an important moment for tennis players and having helpful information to understand ratings is essential.

Adult NTRP ratings are used in leagues and tournaments to group players of similar skill levels; for general information on the rating system, click here.

How are dynamic ratings calculated?

A player’s dynamic ratings, calculated after each match, are not solely contingent on record. They are calculated by an algorithm that considers your rating, your opponent’s rating, the expected outcome of the match, and the actual outcome of the match.

What is the difference between a dynamic rating and a year-end rating?

  • Dynamic ratings are not disclosed to players, whereas year-end ratings are published annually at NTRP levels.
  • Dynamic ratings are expressed to the one-hundredth of a point, whereas year-end ratings are expressed only to the one-half point.
  • Dynamic ratings are calculated regularly and based on an average of the current match plus the previous three dynamic ratings, whereas year-end ratings are based on a combination of a player’s cumulative dynamic rating during the season and a comparison to an appropriate benchmark player.

Why did [insert USTA employee] decide to change my rating?

All NTRP ratings are generated by a very smart computer using a very advanced algorithm. Whether your NTRP level increases, decreases or stays the same, no humans are involved in creating that year-end rating.

My NTRP has changed. How do I find a team at my new level?

We can help! USTA Mid-Atlantic offers Tennis Connect, a service that can match up players and captains.  Just fill out the form here. We’ll help you find the right match for a team in your area!

How do I appeal my rating?

As a Computer (C) rated player, the way to appeal your rating is online through TennisLink. When you do, TennisLink checks to see if you are within the appeal range.  This is a scale based on your dynamic ratings and the number of matches you’ve played in the most recent Championship year.  You will receive an immediate response (Granted or Denied).  If your appeal is granted, TennisLink will automatically adjust your rating level.

Here is how to appeal:

  • Log in to Tennislink and click the USTA League tab (across the top and to the left)
  • To the right of “Welcome!”, look for your NTRP Level
  • Under that, click “Appeal Rating Level”
  • Select Appeal rating level “Up or Down”
  • You will receive an immediate response at the top of the page

Things to know:

  • There is no appeal committee, thus no written letter of explanation. It’s all based on match data and numbers.
  • Appealing will NOT reveal your rating in the 100th of a point.
  • When an appeal has been granted, that player is eligible for dynamic disqualification

I see my ratings on other websites.  Are they the same as USTA?

The USTA posts the official NTRP ratings on TennisLink, located at tennislink.usta.com. This is the only public website where official NTRP ratings authorized by the USTA are posted and can be obtained.

The USTA is aware of other sites that suggest they provide NTRP ratings or player statistics and skill analysis. Any alleged NTRP related information available on these other sites is not endorsed by the USTA, is not accurate, and cannot be relied upon.

I’ve been away from tennis for a while, how do I get a rating?

If you have never had an NTRP Rating or it’s been a few years since you’ve played USTA Leagues, your first step will be to Self-Rate online through TennisLink.  

  • Log in to Tennislink
  • On “Welcome!” page under the USTA League tab
  • Look for “Find NTRP Rating Info”
  • Under that, click on the blue “Self-Rate” button 
  • A pop-up window will appear with the questionnaire
  • Based on your answers you will be assigned a minimum self-rating
  • You have the option to accept that rating, choose a higher rating, or request to appeal for a lower rating

I just really want to talk to someone about my NTRP. Who do I call?

Adult league tennis players in the Mid-Atlantic Section can call or email Adult Programs Coordinator Cassie Nocera. She is your go-to on all things year-end ratings and NTRP. She is totally cool with you reaching out!

Hmmm, alright you’ve answered my questions. Got any fun facts to share?

Funny you should ask, we really do have fun facts about NTRP and year-end ratings!

  • You need three valid matches to generate a year-end rating
  • Your Computer rating does not change during the year. It stays the same until the next year-end.
  • Nearly 81.8 percent of Mid-Atlantic players will NOT have their rating change at year-end.
  • Last year, when year-end ratings were published, TennisLink received 5.4 million page visits over a four day period.
  • The highest rating on the NTRP scale is 7.0. Note: This does not mean two 3.5 players could go toe-to-toe with Rafael Nadal, but it sure would be entertaining to watch.

Create Your Tennis Comeback Story

Don’t let time away from tennis deter you from coming back to the game.  USTA Mid-Atlantic Section has so many ways for you to enjoy tennis and gain the healthy benefits of the sport – from competitive opportunities through USTA League to casual tennis fun, and tournaments too. 

We don’t have to remind you of the many benefits you get from playing tennis: 

✅ Physical fitness 

✅ Fun with friends 

✅ Expanding your network

✅ Stress relief 

✅ Leadership opportunities

✅ Competition and new challenges

✅ A sport you can play no matter your age

Over the next couple of months, we are challenging you to create your tennis comeback story! We have gathered inspiring comeback stories from people just like you that took time off from tennis for various reasons but are back and flourishing in the game. We’ll be sharing these stories with you and hope they motivate you to get back out there and play tennis with USTA Mid-Atlantic. You’ll want to make sure you visit our news page to see these stories

In the meantime, we’ve gathered up some tips and helpful information that will help you get reacquainted with your game as well as what’s going on and available in the Mid-Atlantic Section for adults so that you can start playing. 

Tip 1: Get back into the swing of things without any pressure. USTA Mid-Atlantic has launched NEW social tennis events that allow you to get back into tennis in a fun, low-pressure way. Check out all the opportunities available and check often. We update this page regularly with new social events! 

Tip 2: Brush up on your techniques and strategies. If you’re memory of the game is as fuzzy as a tennis ball, don’t worry! USTA has a ton of great articles that can help refresh your on-court strategies and improve your game. There are even articles on the basics such as keeping score. 

Tip 3: Take a refresher lesson or classes with a local tennis pro. You can look for introductory classes at your local community courts or recreation center (or if you belong to a club or facility). Look for classes that use lower compression balls which will help you quickly gain success and reawaken the muscle memory. 

Tip 4: Come back with a friend and get REWARDED! Tennis is all about fun with friends so bring them along with you. Having friends on court is always a reward because you get to spend time together, but we are making it even better. If you are registering for a USTA League and you refer a new or lapsed 18 to 39 year old player to a League team, you’ll get rewarded. More information is available here

Tip 5: Fire up your competitive spirit and join a USTA League. USTA League is the country’s largest adult competitive tennis league for players of all skill levels. You can check out the various local leagues that are registering now and contact the listed Local League Ambassador for information on how to get involved. You can also contact USTA Mid-Atlantic at leagues@mas.usta.com  and we will be able to help you get started in local leagues. 

Now that you have some tips, it is time to start planning your tennis comeback! If you already have a tennis comeback story, share it with us and inspire others from the USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis community! Contact Megan Driscoll with your story

We can’t wait to see you on the courts soon and hear your comeback story. Make sure you are following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get all the latest about tennis in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Playing Adult Tennis Leagues: Top Questions Answered

We are gearing up for the start of a new USTA League tennis season in the Mid-Atlantic. Just like spring signifies renewal and awakening, starting a new tennis league season may be awakening some questions in you!

We reached out to two players – one active USTA League tennis player and one USTA League tennis player coming back to the sport after a break – to find out what questions they have  as they get ready to get back on the courts. See if these questions are similar to yours and get the answers you need.

Top Three Questions for Players Returning to Tennis

About: Jessica Manley is a former Division I athlete, mother of one, and a dedicated finance professional looking to get back into the game for the social benefits. She last played organized tennis in 2016 as a 4.5 Computer Rated player in an Adult 18 & Over League out of Norfolk, VA. We caught up with her about the questions she may have in returning to the court.

Jessica: How can I find out what leagues are offered in my area and when, so that I can see what could potentially work with my busy mom/work life?

USTA Mid-Atlantic: We are constantly updating our League calendar. Once you are on this page you can click on the region you would like to play in and see what has been officially scheduled to take place this year. You will also see the name of the Local League Ambassador(s)  in the region that you can contact to find details about playing.   If you don’t see what you are looking for, contact Lori Miller at USTA Mid-Atlantic and she will work with you to find options.

Jessica: It’s been awhile since I was in the tennis loop. How do I even find a team to join now?

USTA Mid-Atlantic: We love to help players get on teams and have a resource just for you – it’s called Tennis Connect. We have staff at USTA Mid-Atlantic whose sole job is to connect adult players with avenues to play in their local area. We will work with the Local League Ambassadors who run USTA League in your region to find opportunities for you to play. Simply fill out this form with your information, and we’ll help you find the right match for a team in your area. If you have any additional questions you can email us here.

Jessica: Since participating in a USTA League in 2016, I have dealt with an injury and would like to appeal my current NTRP rating. How would I go about this?

USTA Mid-Atlantic: Jessica, we are sorry to hear about your injury! Individuals who have a current or valid USTA rating are able to file a medical appeal (if you don’t have a current rating there may be other avenues for your rating to be considered for an appeal). The important thing to know before filing an appeal is that the injury or illness must be permanently disabling. Each appeal is reviewed through a Section and National Committee so the process can take some time, so be sure to give yourself enough time to go through the process.

To file a medical appeal, complete and mail or email the Medical Appeal form  to USTA Mid-Atlantic. All medical appeals MUST be accompanied by a letter from your treating physician stating the date the injury/condition occurred, the nature of your injury/condition, your prognosis and treatment rendered, and whether the injury/condition is permanently disabling. Your physician must also complete the Attending Physician’s Statement found here. We’ll let you know via email as to whether your appeal was granted or denied.

All appeals can be mailed to:
Appeals Committee
c/o Cassie Nocera, Adult Programs Coordinator
11410 Isaac Newton Square North, Suite 270
Reston, VA 20190 

If you have additional questions regarding Medical Appeals, please email Cassie Nocera or call 703-556-6120 x7017. We hope to get you back on the court soon!

Top Three Questions for Active Players

About: Laura Mitchell is a 4.5 USTA League player who moved from Northern Virginia to Virginia Beach, Va., five years ago. In her twenty-seventh year as a USTA member, she is also passionate about getting youth into the game and has served as the Northern Virginia Junior Team Tennis Coordinator since 2007, winning USTA National Junior Team Tennis Coordinator of the Year accolades in 2009. Laura participates in multiple USTA Leagues in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, VA annually.

Laura: Is it possible to see dynamic NTRP ratings?

USTA Mid-Atlantic: Dynamic ratings are not disclosed to players, whereas year-end NTRP ratings are published annually. The USTA respects the privacy of member information and does not disclose dynamic ratings to the public.  While this information might be desirable to some, in other instances it could negatively affect player experience and/or ability to participate in the USTA League Program.  Read more information here on Dynamic Ratings.

Laura: Is it possible for TennisLink to have easier instant information/communication on the site such as a chat box?

USTA Mid-Atlantic: There is an online chat feature in TennisLink which you can find here: http://activesupport.force.com/usta/USTA_Contact, but Active Network and USTA is always trying to improve customer service on TennisLink. You can also reach out to Cassie Nocera, Adult Programs Coordinator, at  leagues@mas.usta.com if you ever have a question regarding TennisLink during the year.

Laura: Will USTA League players have the opportunity to have UTR rating as well?

USTA Mid-Atlantic: USTA recognizes that the UTR is a great tool that can be used to help grow the game of tennis in the United States. It is being heavily used at the collegiate level in assisting college coaches to assess players. USTA Mid-Atlantic uses UTR at the junior level, but NTRP will continue to be the ratings used for the USTA League program.

Whether you are returning to play organized adult tennis in Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC, or West Virginia from a long break, or perhaps your NTRP rating changed, what questions do you have as the spring adult tennis league season approaches? How are you “gearing up” for USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis leagues? Tag us with your tips or questions on social media and use the hashtag #ustaspringgearup. Don’t forget, we’ll have more information throughout the month so subscribe to the blog and make sure you are following us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

If you still have questions feel free to send us an email and we’ll help you out!

League Captain of the Year

Meet Amy O’Brien from Leesburg, Virginia. She captained 13 teams in 2016 and has already signed on for more this year, in addition to her commitment to growing tennis throughout her community.  She has won 2 tickets to the 217 US. Open along with $500 for travel spending for this honor! This is what others had to say about Amy:

“She is tireless and a great captain helping both rookies and advanced players.  She sacrifices so much of herself to the sport of tennis…it is the fabric of her soul and she truly is deserving.”

“She manages so many teams from doubles, mixed, singles to juniors. She is on the tennis board for our neighborhood, coordinates classes and schedules for contract time–the list just goes on and on!”

Here’s a deeper look at our Captain of the Year!

When did you first pick up a racquet? I decided to take lessons five years ago when our new pro arrived at River Creek Tennis Club. I thought it would be a good way to get some exercise but not realizing that I would really enjoy the game.

How long have you been captaining USTA League teams? I’ve captained teams for about 4 years.

What do you enjoy about captaining a USTA League team? Meeting players and making new friends not only from our club but other clubs as well.

What’s been your favorite or most unique “captain” moment so far? I have several favorite moments. One of favorite moment ( or a sense of accomplishment) of being a captain is seeing the growth in our membership and teams. In the past everyone in our community played for other clubs. We didn’t have a men’s, junior or mixed doubles team. But now we have over 16 teams for all  ages and level of players. It is nice to see our tennis community and membership grow at River Creek Club.

What do you think your players or other players should know about what it’s like to captain? I welcome feedback and being a captain is easy when you have a great network of support system from not only your teammates but parents as well.

What is your strategy on recruiting new players? How do you find and fill your team with new players each year? We recruit by a lot of networking. Sometimes, I see people playing that I don’t know at our club, I will ask them for their names and phone numbers and invite them to play in our round robin or  at our social events. We try to be very inclusive. Other times we discovered that new players are nervous to play with others and we tell them all levels are welcomed as we all started from somewhere. We want to make sure everyone feels welcome.

Why do you like to give back to the sport of tennis so much? Because  I made some true and long lasting friendship due to tennis.  Also,regardless of your age tennis is a sport that everyone can enjoy . It is a sport that my kids really enjoy and I want to support them as much as possible.

If you could have any professional player (current or retired) on your league team, who would it be? Why? Federer because of his mental toughness and how he always stay calm.

Congratulations, Amy! USTA Mid-Atlantic would like to thank all of our outstanding USTA League captains for their service to the program.  From scheduling lineups to making calls to players at the eleventh hour, we know and definitely appreciate all they do to keep the USTA League program fun for everyone!

To learn more and get involved in USTA League tennis, click here.