Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rankings -Can any one get it right

Tennis New Zealand use the Top Dog system for rankings and gradings.I certainly have warmed to certain aspects of this system, however the talk amongst the "people" it still falls short in a few area's . Originally designed to entice people to play it has a reverse effect in some players attitude, especially amongst junior players and parents.There are no perfect systems and there are changes in the ATP and WTA in points and scheduling for next year, click on the highlighted text and read the article change is vital.Making sure the top players play the top events are important and this is one area Top Dog and Tennis New Zealand need to address. There is a battle now between Federer and Nadal for the number 1 spot in men's tennis if the Top Dog system was used here smart Rodger would just not play because he has a lots of points , more rewards in the Top Dog system goes on a head to head structure and Nadal would only get maximum points when beating Federer.By not playing protects rankings hardly an ideal scenario.I also worry about where Top Dog
originated and it came from squash(locally) and then Auckland tennis started using the system in 1997. There are many great features of "Top Dog" but no other Tennis Playing Nation has jumped on the bandwagon to make it their ranking system. I wrote an article when top dog was first introduced, and I am republishing some relevant points It would be great to get some feed back on positive aspects and the things you may think needs addressing.This link will give you the "nuts and bolts" on calculating your points with top dog.Are you disadvantaged where you live? Please post a comment it will be interesting to hear points of views.Here are some of the points I made in the article The LTA (England) developed a new system to run along side their rating system they said "The rankings system we have developed is a ‘points per round’ system based on tournament performance irrespective of opponent. This is the format most commonly used by other countries and the International Tennis Federation (ITF)".Not currently true of Top Dog.They went on to say "Our Juniors when ready to play ITF tournaments , satellites, futures , leading to major tournaments will be judged performance wise on points per round formats .This is the type of tournament based system we need in place.

By adopting a tiered competitive structure we can give weight to different events and put the emphasis on advancing through the draw irrespective of the opponent." Makes common sense doesn't it? Now I currently sit on 500 plus top dog points, if i go out and beat a junior say in the 16 year age group and on a better Top Dog Grading it could impact how they sit in their age group? Losing to me would take points off them and also change their national ranking in their age this correct? comments please!Here are some more points the LTA went on to say It is also proven that a point by round system allows players and coaches to recognise the level and strength of an event and understand the ranking impact of success within any graded tournament. This in turn provides tangible and measurable goals for the player and allows the coach and player to formulate a competitive schedule that reflects the players’ long-term Development Plan
i/e Tier 1 tournaments should be rewarded with more points
and of course Tier 3 and 4 tournaments would be less and so they should be,
but are an integral part of the system because these tournaments should not attract consistently your elite players but should encourage participation and the quest for improvements by our development players!

Here are some more points that are listed on the LTA web Site about Rankings and why the points system is encouraged

· It is aspirational, allowing players to see where they sit within their peer group.

· It supports a simple grading and points structure that remains consistent throughout all age groups. THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT POINT

· It encourages competitors to play up an age group when they are ready, without it having a negative impact on their ranking within their own age group

· Ranking by age groups supports international practice and the ITF and Tennis Europe age groups.

· Adult competition consists predominantly of non-ranking events.

Ie/Playing adults with high ranking or lower rankings should not effect a national ranking, but it will under Top Dog . Local match play and Inter club, again not tournament based should not effect points in any way in a junior age group.Now the USTA has this to say about developing there system "The USTA believes it is imperative to have a system that our players can readily comprehend and that encourages them to structure their schedules to address the key elements of player development. After considerable research, the High Performance Division and the Youth Competition and Training Committee have concluded that a version of a points-based ranking system best addresses the specific objectives identified above and the overall goal of helping players reach their potential. By using tiered levels of importance we can weigh our events, assign regulations that help our juniors to compete often, and put the emphasis on advancing through the draw. The simple concept of having a player capable of categorizing an event, determining its level, and understanding the ranking impact of success in that event allows the player to understand what needs to be done. This is an invaluable asset in developing tangible and measurable goals that also help the player’s preparation and motivation." It would be great to hear from other tennis playing nations on their junior ranking system.

Look no rankings system is perfect this we all know but i do think the honor an reason why to play certain events needs to be reintroduced to the Current local junior players.


  1. Yes I am from the far South and we are definately at a disadvantage with Top Dog.Having enougth events and opponents with Top Dog for us is a problem...

  2. I totally agree with you Steve in every thing that you have said.I feel that if a player hasn't played for a while then they should lose there points unless they have a good medical reason or are over seas playing tennis.Top Dog points should only count in Tournaments, Reps and Close Champs, not Saturday competition.Big cities have a big advantage over towns and country clubs.Each weekend there games count for top dog as ours don't.Take my 9 year old daughter, she is no.1 in her team,all of last season has played 13 year old boys & girls mostly and has only played 1 over girl that was her age.TOP DOG needs some fine adjustments.