Gary Horvath is a USPTA master pro, founder and past president of the USA Professional Platform Tennis Association prior to its merger with USPTA, a certified coach with USA Volleyball and a long-standing member of the Wilson Advisory Staff.
His experience as a tennis pro has covered the entire spectrum from grassroots to college tennis. In addition, Gary Horvath has conducted extensive business and economic research that has largely supported the state of Colorado's economic development efforts.
The Beauty of College Tennis and the UTR Together
The UTR and college tennis are two of the most underappreciated aspects of the sport. This short document illustrates that point by looking at the Women's PAC-12 matchplay for the 2022 Spring season.
By Gary Horvath
For those not familiar with college tennis, it has several distinguishing factors. First, all matches use no-ad scoring. If the score reaches six-all, then a seven-point tiebreaker is played. All warmups occur before match play. In men’s competition, there is no service let. When the ball hits the net and goes into the service box, the ball is in play.
A team wins the overall match if they win the doubles point and three singles matches. If they lose the doubles point, they must win four singles matches.
The dual match begins when three doubles matches start at the same time. Doubles matches consist of one set. The winner of two doubles matches wins the doubles point (one point).
Singles play begins immediately after the doubles matches, and they continue until one team wins four points. Since most programs have six courts, a team match usually lasts two to three hours.
College players have UTR ratings based on matches recorded in the UTR database, and a Power 6 rating is calculated for each team by summing the UTR ratings for the top six players on each team. There may be slight differences between the Power 6 rating and the match lineups.
Table I shows the win-loss records and Power 6 Ratings for the 2021-2022 Pac-12 Women’s Spring season.
Five of the eleven programs posted winning records. They won 35 of 46 matches (35-11), while the bottom six teams won 18 of 60 dual matches (18-42). Some cancellations prevented teams from playing ten conference matches.
Of the eleven losses by the five upper-tier teams, only three were to schools from the lower tier. Utah upset USC, and ASU lost to Oregon and Washington. The results confirm the credibility of the Power 6 Ratings. As expected, the upper-tier teams win more often than the lower-tier teams.
The three lower-tier teams (Utah, WSU, and Colorado) won six dual matches. Three of the wins were against each other. For example, Colorado beat Arizona; WSU defeated Washington and Colorado; and Utah beat USC, WSU, and Colorado.
Table II shows the individual UTRs that comprise the Power 6 rating for each of the eleven teams. The range between the top and bottom players is 2.16 UTR points. The lowest rating is 9.08, and the highest is 11.24.
In many cases, this is a dramatic difference in competitiveness.
The median UTR of the 66 players in the Power 6 ratings is 10.15. Most players above the median are on the top five teams or the teams with winning records during the PAC-12 season.
The players on the lower-tier teams typically have UTR values below the median.
The Beauty of College Tennis
Some of the reasons that PAC-12 college tennis (and all college tennis) is fun to watch are listed below.
The players are excellent athletes. Some may go on to teach or play tennis professionally.
College tennis is like World Team Tennis. Cheering is encouraged because it is a unique mix of individual and team sports.
The UTR Power 6 ratings provide extra insight into the teams. For example, in the recent PAC-12 championships, ASU was the underdog based on the Power 6 rating, but they had two exciting 4-3 wins over USC and California. They lost a 4-2 heartbreaker to Stanford in the final match.
No-ad scoring adds to the excitement of the competition.
And the list goes on.
If you are not a fan of college tennis, now is the perfect time to jump on the bandwagon. The NCAA D1 women’s national championships will be played in Champaign, Illinois, on May 19-28. Typically, it has extensive television coverage.
At this point, the top-ranked D1 women's teams and their Power 6 ratings are:
North Carolina, 64.59
North Carolina State, 63.57
The top-ranked women players, their team, and their UTR values are:
Emma Navarro, Virginia, 11.79
Peyton Stearns, Texas, 11.46
Daria Frayman, Princeton, 11.20
Cameron Morra, North Carolina, 10.68
Sarah Hamner, South Carolina, 11.02.
The top-tier PAC-12 teams and players will face stiff competition when they compete against these and other top college programs.
Make plans now to watch the NCAA men’s and women’s championships. The entertainment value is high! There are many great teams and exciting players - and remember, the players are full-time college students.
Do you like our content? If you do so, please consider supporting us. For as little as $1 a month, you can help ensure the long-term future of TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS.
Click here to support and please share this with all the tennis lovers you know.