New method for ranking NCAA tennis players

Ed note — the full article (with rankings) is posted here, http://texascollegetennis.com/2016/12/13/a-new-approach-to-ranking-singles-players-in-the-fall/. I will get more technical below.

I decided awhile back that the way players are ranked in the fall by the ITA is a bit arbitrary. I am not trying to be critical of the ITA, because trying to rank singles players across the country before they’ve played a single match is not only extremely difficult, not only from a pure mechanical standpoint, but also politically.

There are kids now who don’t even play ITA tennis in the fall and stick to the plethora of Futures and Challengers that make up the Oracle USTA Pro Circuit Collegiate Series. Some don’t play at all at are busy either catching up on studies or rehabbing (or both). My idea was to create a system that uses only results between college players for the school year and that’s it. If you are ranking players and this determines whether they get into the NCAA’s or not, that should be the only thing that matters.

With that in mind, I decided to create my own ranking system for the men. Here was my criteria:

  1. Any and all players who played a D1 match this fall were eligible, as were any D1 known players who played on the Pro Circuit from the last week of August until last week in Tallahassee.
  2. Only matches between D1 players were eligible. I know this limits the number of matches that counted on the circuit, but that’s the only way to be consistent.
  3. To maintain some baseline consistency, I used my system for the 2015-16 school year (applying the same rules) and created prior rankings for those returning this fall. I felt that this was important to give upperclassmen more weight. I did not use any previous year Pro Circuit matches, only NCAA D1 matches.
  4. Matches were weighted. Regular matches were standard weight, while Futures and USTA/ITA Regionals matches counted a little more and Challengers, The All-American and Indoors counted a little more.

This system is not perfect by any means but with the limited data so far this season, it seems fair.