Lost in 3 set from my First UTR Match – start my 2024 season

UTR (Universal Tennis Rating) is a globally recognized rating system for tennis players.  After being an outsider looking for a few years, I finally played my first UTR tournament (Flex League) in Toronto.  Overall the experience was positive, despite losing a close match in 3 sets.  In this post, I’d like to share my overall experience and my match breakdown.

Game setup & rating system

UTR charged me $40 for participating in this tourney – this includes 4 matches which I need to schedule it myself with the opponent they selected for me.   It seems to be a little pricy because the service UTR provides seems to be limited.   Also, some opponents are living quite far from me.  Even though this was expected – otherwise I would just play at the local club instead

The primary incentive for me is to get the UTR ranking point – which seems to be globally recognized (at least in the United States and China).   Before this match, I was only given an estimated UTR rating for 3.00-5.00 based on my self-selected survey.   After the match, “5.54” was given due to I lost this match against my opponent.  So it seems like I gained points even by losing the match.   I like this system because it encourages me to play opponents better than me.  The takeaway is simple – playing better tennis over accumulating wins

I believe my true rating should be 6.5-7.  Starting from 5.54 isn’t a bad idea , so I can climb up in the future.  After my first game, I surprisingly find out that currently I am ranked at #126,023 as an adult LOL,


Polarizing in-game strategy

After a dogfight-style first set ended up with me winning in a tie-break in over 70 minutes, I chose a polarizing in-game strategy mostly due to my lack of conditioning: intentionally losing out 2nd set to preserve my energy for a 10-point tie-break deciding set.

I lost the 2nd set 0-6, and the final deciding set 3-10. Unfortunately, this strategy didn’t work as expected.

In retrospect, I still believe this is the right strategy because of the goal I had in mind before the match: avoid injury.   The execution was a bit underwhelming on my end because I failed to regain/raise my level before heading back to the deciding set.   Momentum played a big part in tennis matches.  In the first set when both of us were playing at a high level, I broke first at 3:2, but he raised his level winning the next three games at 3:5.  After saving 2 set points, I found my rhythm winning the next three and took the game to 6:5.

I wish I had taken a little longer break after the 2nd set, so I could think through how I should play in the 3rd.    I chose to play long rallies over net point – which was a mistake because it played toward my opponent’s strength.  He is much younger than me so he can run faster, and we both played a defensive-minded top spin style.   The net play should be the right strategy – because that was how Jason beat me from last year’s Milton’s year-end tournament.  I just need to execute it better – hit it a bit deeper before approaching the net, and be more decisive and aggressive on the rally.    I believe this is also the obvious area for improvement for me, besides keep doing workouts and getting into better conditioning.

Closing thoughts

My opponent Jonathan was quite friendly.  We traded a few line calls in favour of each other, and both of us used cell phones to shoot SwingVision videos as well.  The club (Veneto Tennis club) was clean, organized and the price seemed to be reasonable (~$38/person for 2h). It was even located in a “getaway” style park area, surrounded by trees and tradition.  The only drawback was the commute (almost 1h drive on the way).  I am not sure if I will go back to play another match.

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