Because Every Child Belongs

USTA Mid-Atlantic Section is on a mission to make tennis the most accessible sport in the region by helping people and communities grow stronger, healthier, and more connected through tennis. Our goal is to bring tennis to all, especially children, in the Mid-Atlantic. 

Thanks to you and your gift your tax-deductible donation directly supports increased access to tennis in the Mid-Atlantic through our programs, such as our Youth After School and Summer Camp Tennis Program, our Safe Places to Play Facility Assistance Program and our Junior Competition Scholarship

This year we continue to invest in the next generation by teaching children the benefits of the sport. Tennis is a lifetime sport and our After School and Summer Camp Programs teach tennis to those that may not have the opportunity to play or learn the game elsewhere. We are building a foundation for children to live a healthy life and to learn character skills that they will use for years to come. Watch this video to learn about our program and how, together, we can put a racquet in the hands of more children…because every child belongs.

Make a tax-deductible donation today to support USTA Mid-Atlantic’s charitable programs. 

Year-end Ratings: What You Need to Know

As the USTA Adult League season winds down, we gear up for the most highly anticipated time of the year – the moment year-end ratings are published! Think about it like this: you know on TV shows when the teacher posts test scores outside the classroom and everyone rushes to check their grade, this is that for league tennis players – except the teacher is a computer and you can’t fail!

This year, the year-end NTRP Ratings are expected to be published on December 2, and we want to share with you some helpful information to get you ready for when you will know if your NTRP rating stayed the same or is adjusted.

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.

Give Recognition – Nominate Champions of Tennis Today

Every year, USTA Mid-Atlantic recognizes and awards individuals and organizations that are champions in the tennis community. Award season is an exciting time of the year because individuals and organizations are being nominated by peers and others who are working hand-in-hand to fulfill a common goal, which is to bring more tennis to the community.

The accomplishments being made in the community for tennis take time, passion and commitment. Being recognized for this hard work can leave a lasting impression, validate the importance of the work being done, and can inspire others as an example to emulate. That is why it is important to nominate deserving individuals and organizations today!

We turned to last years’ award winners and asked them about the significance of being nominated and awarded a USTA Mid-Atlantic Section award.

When Jill Rene Steele, the Principal of Simpson Elementary School in West Virginia, was asked what it meant to her and her school to be awarded the Outstanding School Partner Award she said, “We were so honored to be chosen, and thrilled to be involved.” Simpson Elementary was a USTA Mid-Atlantic school partner and offered in-school opportunities to students eager to learn tennis in 2018. “Our school has gained increased confidence in realizing we can attain recognition for achievements at a greater level than just locally,” Jill notes further.

Not only are organizations recognized for their achievement in promoting tennis across the region, but individuals are also being celebrated as well.

When Riley King, winner of the Most Valuable Member Award, was asked why it is important for fellow members to nominate deserving individuals for awards he said, “It is nice to show recognition to those who invest in a sport and have a positive influence on others.” He further noted, “I’m never surprised how widespread and far-reaching the tennis community is, and yet it always feels like a “small world” because you are able to make so many connections to different people.” For Riley, being involved in this sport is not just about teaching tennis, it is about building relationships within the community as well.

Another individual who notes the importance of nominating people and organizations for a Mid-Atlantic Section award is Jerry Cifuentes. Jerry won the Diversity & Inclusion Champion Award in 2018 and winning this award continues to be a positive reinforcement in his life. When asked how it felt to be recognized in front of a crowd of people at the Washington Kastles match he said, “The feeling was incredible! It gave me the motivation to continue to do what I love, which is teaching tennis.” Not only did it feel great for Jerry to be awarded this honor, but it gave him the confidence to continue to move forward with his work. “I want to continue to work with those who may not be exposed to tennis, due to cultural, racial, or social boundaries; and I want to put them at the forefront of my coaching,” he said.

All award winners felt honored to be recognized by peers and motivated to continue to bring tennis to more people in the future.

Now it is your turn to leave your mark. If you know a deserving person or group to honor with a USTA Mid-Atlantic Section award, nominate them today and let them know they have made a positive impact for tennis.

USTA Mid-Atlantic will be accepting nominations until July 1 and will present the winners with their awards on July 20 at USTA Family Day at The Washington Kastles. Happy nominating!

If you have any further questions, please reach out to Megan Driscoll at driscoll@mas.usta.com and we will be happy to assist.

Q&A with Coach Enoch Thompson

Enoch Thompson has been a pillar in the DC tennis community for decades. Last year, he was named a USTA Local Hero for his work on the court and acting as a positive role model for youth. We caught up with Enoch to ask about his tennis journey and tennis in Washington over the years.

What brought you to DC?

I came to DC in 1970 to study architecture at Howard University from the Exuma Islands in the Bahamas.

How long have you been playing tennis? How did you get started ?

I was gifted a set of racquets my junior year at Howard University. I was no longer playing baseball and needed something to do. I have never taken a  tennis lesson. I taught myself to play by watching others and reading.

What or who inspired you to learn and continue to play tennis? What inspired you to teach?

Growing up in the Bahamas, tennis was looked at as a “girl” sports, and I admired Arthur [Ashe] and Pancho Gonzales. My entire family plays tennis; that includes my wife and four children. When my children began to take on tennis competitively, I caught the coaching bug.

How did baseball play a role in the development of your tennis career as professional tennis instructor?

In baseball you can foul off a million balls and still have the chance to hit a home run, unlike tennis where the ball is either in or out. Baseball taught me to focus and life lessons from being on a team

How has tennis changed since you started teaching  and playing? What is the most profound change you have seen?

Just with technology tennis has changed so much. There is no way you could play with a wooden racquet now. You would  have all kinds of tennis elbow. The biggest change I’ve seen is the 10U format. 10U tennis has made for an early start into to tennis for kids, just like other sports have. With the modify equipment we [tennis instructors] are able to make more with less and be creative when it comes to teaching. Tennis can be played outside of a regular court and even without a net. That was the real game changer when it comes to accessibility.

Being in the nation’s capital where the most political decisions are made, do you think politics has played a role in how tennis has changed here ? How so or why not?

In some ways politics has changed tennis here in DC. Tennis has always been powered by the people. With the different pockets of tennis all over the city the community isn’t really cohesive .

What would you consider to be the turning point in tennis for players of color?

After the age of Arthur, Althea and Poncho, came a lot of great players of color. People of color had a face in the tennis. Serena and Venus have been just great. Things really began to change for players when people like you [USTA MAS staff member Ebonye Jones] began to take on roles with the USTA. Information and resources like trainings became easier to access to be in the community.

What do you love the most about tennis?

The love that comes with the game . Friends become family with tennis . My entire family plays tennis and the game has been the consent activity that brings us together. A family that plays together stays together.

If you had one advice to your younger self what would it be?

Be flexible when people offer criticism.

Six At-Home Tennis Activities to Bust Boredom

As a mom of two active little boys, I am a firm believer in getting outside each day to burn off extra energy. We run around the yard, play games, take walks – whatever we can do to get out of the house, move our bodies and have some fun.

I don’t know about you, but we just cannot stay cooped up in the house all day long. On those days when we do, the tranquility of our family room quickly turns into a disaster area with couch cushions strewn about, toys everywhere (and I mean everywhere), boys running room to room racing to see who’s the fastest, and sporting equipment flying. Did I mention that my boys are active?

During the colder months when the temperatures dip too low to go outside for long periods of time, I desperately search for activities we can do inside that are engaging and get my kids moving with as little destruction as possible.

My older son has recently found an affinity for tennis (hooray!) thanks to his recent participation in the TGA afterschool tennis enrichment program. He wants to play all the time. And I couldn’t be happier about it! With equipment sized right, tennis is fun for kids of all ages and skill level and it boasts numerous benefits such as learning lessons in teamwork and sportsmanship as well as building physical strength and endurance.

Considering he is just a very early beginner, I definitely want to keep his interest and give him the chance to have fun with tennis when he wants. That got me thinking: what tennis activities could we do inside at home while we wait for sunnier days and warmer temps more accommodating for time out on our local tennis courts.

So I went right to USTA Mid-Atlantic’s own resident expert on playing tennis in non-traditional spaces (aka our manager of school programs) Alicia von Lossberg. She assured me that, very easily, everyday spaces can turn into the perfect places for tennis fun for you and your children.

She explained that all of the activities are suitable for a basement, playroom or even the garage and that activities range from racquet and ball handling to fitness fun. You don’t even need to have a net! You can get creative with items you likely have on hand at home. Masking tape or painters tape is perfect for marking the perimeter of the “court” on the floor or simply mark a line for where a net would be. You can also use two chairs with tape stretched between them as the net.

This is just the solution I want to have at the ready should we find ourselves indoors but chomping for an activity.

So, the next time you are stuck inside more than you like and you hear “I’m bored,” for the umpteenth time, grab your racquets and foam balls and try these six fun tennis activities at home to break up the monotony and calm the crazy.

Ball balance, tap downs and bump ups are all great activities to practice racquet and ball handling. For ball balance, have your little tennis star try to balance the foam ball on the strings of the racquet while touching the floor with their opposite hand. Tap downs are when you bounce the ball down at waist level and bump ups are when you bounce the ball (carefully) up at eye level without letting the ball hit the ground. Have your child do as many of those as they can. You can even do these activities with your child and see who can do the most in a row or go the longest balancing the ball.

Helpful hint: if this is too hard for them, try a beach ball or balloon for quick success before moving on to the foam ball.

Partner up and practice hand-eye skills. Put some tunes on and partner up with your child or partner your kids up to work on hand-eye coordination. A fan favorite is ball pass where you work together to pass a ball back and forth “catching” it with the racquet. For each catch, keep stepping back a step and see how far apart you can get. Set a record and see who can break it.

Helpful hint: for younger kids, use a bean bag to pass instead.  

Get in a rhythm with “drop, hit, catch” and “toss, hit, catch.” These games are sure to bring a smile to your child’s face and even work their rhythmic pattern skills! Partner up with them and have them gently drop the ball and hit it toward you so that you can catch it – drop, hit, catch, and repeat. Every catch is a point! After six hits, change roles and see who can get the most points. Try toss, hit, catch to work on forehand and backhand skills. Begin about three steps apart from your child and toss the tennis ball to the forehand or backhand side and have them rally the ball back to you to catch it. Toss it six times and switch!

Helpful hint: Give your child a target (like your knees or hat on your head) to keep balls from being hit like home runs.

drop-hit-catch2

Rally over the net. Remember those chairs with the tape (or rope, ribbon, or streamers) stretched between them? Set them up as the net and work with your child to rally the ball over to each other. You can make this activity easier by rolling the ball on the ground or make it harder by switching between forehand and backhand off the bounce. See how long you can rally with each other.

Agility, footwork and speed are all valuable skills for tennis that can be worked on at home. If you are playing in a more open space of the house, a few minutes of jump rope is a great way your child can work on footwork moves. See how long each of you can jump without stopping. Hop scotch is also a great game to work on balance and agility by hopping on one foot and then two. But the best game of all IMO is the “Ball Kid Burst.” Put imagination to action and pretend to be a ball kid dashing to grab the tennis balls for superstars like Rafa and Serena during an intense match. Place a racquet on the floor and then place a pile of tennis balls directly across from the racquet, about 10 to 15 feet away. Get your stopwatch ready and race to grab one ball at a time and place them on racquet. Record the time and see how fast you can get all the tennis balls picked up. Take turns to see who is the fastest. Try this one at the end of play time, when all the foam balls are scattered about. This is a GREAT way to make clean up fun.

ball-kid-burst

Strategize a new game. Tennis is all about game strategy so work those intellectual skills and have your child invent their own tennis game that can be played indoors. Kids love to make up their own games, and you never know what kind of creative ideas they will come up with that can work a new tennis skill. Just make sure you remember it for next time to add it in the rotation.

Hopefully you found this list to be a handy reference so that on the days when you just can’t get enough outdoor time or make it to the courts, you can still work with your child on their budding tennis skills and love of the game! And speaking of love of tennis, don’t forget, kids 10 and under new to the USTA are eligible for a free junior membership. Find out more and sign up!

What fun tennis activities have you tried with kids? Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Lauren Hoffmann is the director of marketing, communication and membership at USTA Mid-Atlantic. She would write a really clever little line here but she’s a mom and she’s exhausted.

Illustration images are from the USTA Kid’s Tennis Clubs Organizers Playbook. Illustrations are thanks to Skillastics, Inc.