Are you currently languishing at number 15,000 in the LTA tennis rankings and want to know how to improve your standing? Or perhaps you’ve always wondered how the mysterious totals are calculated? Well, never fear: Tennis Talent is here to decode the intricate ins and outs of the player ratings and rankings.
What are the rankings tables?
As a visit to the LTA’s website will show, the rankings table is simply a list of players, with the player with the most points at the top (at the time of writing, Johanna Konta in the female table and Sir Andy Murray in the male) and the player with the fewest at the bottom (to spare their blushes, we won’t name names).
The first thing you’ll notice is how huge both lists are, with, for example, the male “open” list containing a whopping 20,395 registered players. Luckily, the tables can be filtered by age, area and date. This means it’s possible to find out who, for instance, holds the top spot in Kent in the female under 18 age bracket: Nell Miller.
However, matters are further complicated by the fact that purely doubles players are integrated into the combined list. It’s the reason why Jamie Murray is ranked at No.2, despite never playing singles matches – 25% of his doubles total (see below), picked up by winning tournaments and generally being a Murray brother, still exceeds that of Dan Evans, who has both singles and doubles scores. Also, Jamie Murray has the reactions of a cat…
How are the rankings calculated?
Essentially, your total score is an indication of how well you’ve been performing in both domestic and foreign competitions. Calculated every Friday, they’re awarded for taking part in grade 1 to 5 tournaments (not, unfortunately, grade 6, 7 or U competitions). Obviously, competing in a grade 1 (the highest) tournament will glean more points than, say, a grade 4 one. Moreover, each player receives just one set of points per event – sparing us the Kafkaesque nightmare of separate totals for qualifying and the main draw.
All clear so far? Okay, here’s where it gets slightly tricky: a player’s combined ranking is composed of their six best singles results and 25% of their six best doubles results from the past 52 weeks. The system means that one bad result doesn’t send a player free-falling to the bottom of the table and also provides a more nuanced encapsulation of their form over an entire year.
There’s also a senior list, for players aged over 35 to over 85, that takes the three best singles results in account, rather than the normal six. The reasoning is that the older you get, the fewer matches you’ll play.
Why do they matter?
Apart from offering a handy way of comparing players against their rivals and measuring how they’re improving over time, the LTA rankings decide how players are seeded in competitions and are referred to when two competitors have the same overall score. Plus, there’s the inherent bragging rights and glamour of being British No.9 in the 60+ category (congratulations, Steve Evans from Gloucestershire!).