I see it all the time at our tennis centre, people having a game enjoying the rallies or lack of them.

When I approached a few guys playing not long ago, I asked “You guys should play our competition, why not give it ago” The reply I got was “We are not good enough”.

This hurdle of not knowing how good you are compared to others around you makes people second guess themselves.

It is true to say that organised competitions have lost a huge amount of players over the last fifteen years, even casual/recreational participation has really decreased.

We need all the motivational tools to get people playing and enjoying tennis, having role models is the single best motivation to get people out and having a go.

Unfortunately in Australia we lack serious role models, maybe soon things will change but until then we need something else to motivate people in getting out there and hitting some balls.

I remember when the International Tennis Federation came out with the International Tennis Number (ITN) on-court assessment. I bought four of the kits and graded everyone of the kids and adults at our tennis centre.

It took over three months to grade over two hundred players, the on-court assessment was fifteen minutes long and needed a coach to feed balls and another person to record the results.

I quickly lost interest in grading people because it was just not worth my time.

I thought there must be an easier way to grade new and older players, so with a computer friend of mine we created an eighteen questionnaire that was just as accurate as the on court ITN assessment.

It was so good we partnered with Slazenger to showcase our online quiz at the Australian Open Grand-slam. It was a hit, over two weeks we graded well over one thousand kids and adults.

The eighteen questions took about three minutes to complete and gave an amazingly accurate result.

The quiz was so good, I remember the guy from Tennis Australia in charge of rolling out the ITN on-court assessment sitting down and doing the quiz, before he did the quiz I asked him what his ITN was.

His response was an ITN 4, three minutes later on the computer screen flashed you are an ITN 4.

The ITN is a simple grading system between 1 and 10, 1 being a professional and 10 being a complete beginner.

Over time I realised that even three minutes is a long time to answer a quiz, so I set about reducing the quiz to just ten questions.

The new quiz I call the Universal Tennis Number (UTN) and takes less than two minutes to get a result.

Making the site simple and creating a quiz that would accurately grade peoples tennis ability was the key focus.

www.tennisgrading.com┬áis the end result, I hope people enjoy knowing where they fit in and hopefully when asked to play a competition or even just asked to have a hit of tennis they feel comfortable enough to say “Why not”.

 

Stewart Whicker

Head Coach

Marconi Tennis/Squash

Sydney, Australia

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