Next Step: USTA 4.5

I have never been one to dabble much with science.  Beakers, chemicals, and formulations have never been of much interest to me.  I don’t own a lab coat, and I definitely don’t remember much about the Periodic Table of Elements from my high school days.  Nevertheless, I am going to conduct an experiment.  Not in a lab, but instead, on a tennis court.  Allow me to explain…

After an eight year absence from playing tennis (shoulder problems), I began playing again in late summer of 2008.  Inspired by my young son’s interest in the game and my desire to play with him and teach him, I picked up my sticks, re-strung them, and joined South Regency Tennis Centerin Miamisburg, OH.  Having never played in USTA leagues before, I was able to, upon the suggestion of my captain, “self-rate” at the 3.5 NTRP level.  I figured I was probably closer to a 4.0 player, but I thought, “What the heck…  Why not play 3.5 in order to shake off some rust and get my game back in order?”

It was a good decision.  I thoroughly enjoyed playing 3.5 USTA during the 2009 season and posted a pretty decent singles record of 7-2.  (I also played on my club’s 4.0 team from time to time – going 1-2 with a win at singles, a loss at singles, and a loss at doubles.)  But as I kind of expected, 2009 would be my only season at 3.5.

When the 2010 ratings came out approximately two weeks ago, I was bumped from 3.5 to 4.0.  On one hand, I am disappointed – as I had an absolute blast with my 3.5 team.  We had a great captain and a great bunch of guys.  On the other hand, I am pleased that my performance in the 2009 season was good enough to get me bumped to 4.0, and I am excited for the challenge of playing at the 4.0 level for the upcoming 2010 season.

And while the 2010 season won’t even begin for several more weeks, I am already focused on improving my game, taking it to the next level, and above all else, playing inspired tennis every time I take the court.  So this is the first post in the category of “Next Step:  4.5”.  And that is exactly what I gunning for…  getting bumped to 4.5.

As alluded to above, this will definitely be an experiment of sorts.  I am certainly not fooling myself, as I know the road to 4.5 will be extremely challenging and could be quite long (and by “quite long” I mean many years), but I am striving for it nonetheless.  It is my understanding that the gap between 4.0 and 4.5 is much larger than the gap between 3.5 and 4.0, and when someone hits the 4.5 level, he/she has, without a doubt, moved into a much more exclusive group of tennis players.  Here is a simple example to illustrate what I’m talking about…  For the upcoming 2010 season, my club will have three 3.5 teams, three 4.0 teams, yet only one 4.5 team.  There simply are not enough 4.5 and above level players at my club – aside from a few teaching pros.  It is kind of like a traditional bell curve – with many players lumped in the 3.5/4.0 levels but fewer players at the extremes. 

So if I want to improve to the point of getting bumped to 4.5 in the future, I have my work cut out for me.  I must increase my playing time, get much stronger/fitter, keep focused on my goal, and most importantly, have fun throughout the process.

As I alluded to above, this will definitely be an experiment of sorts, and through this blog, I hope you’ll follow my little tennis experiment on a regular basis.  If I do this thing correctly, I hope to eventually hit the 4.5 level and along the way, interest you to a certain degree, entertain you to a certain (probably lesser) degree, and above all, inspire you in some small way to go out and achieve your goals – tennis related or otherwise.

Thanks for checking in.


Filed Under: Next Step: 4.5

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  1. Aaron Jenkins says:

    Good luck!

  2. David Henry says:

    Thanks Aaron. I have a long way to go – especially since I didn’t play at all between May and December 2010 – due to being busy with my kids activities – and stringing for clients! I’ll keep at it and strive to get bumped to 4.5 within the next couple of years. We’ll see…

  3. Arun says:

    I am following the same goal. Started playing tennis 3 years ago, bumped to 4.0 last year from 3.5. Beats most of the 4.0 players, but do pretty bad against 4.5s. You are right, gap between 4.0 and 4.5 is wider than 3.5 to 4.0.

  4. David Henry says:

    Best of luck to you!


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