Carolyn and Erin recorded a podcast with Amanda about getting back to playing after having double knee surgery. At the end of that episode she mentioned that she was already playing USTA league matches.

Typically, the USTA Spring season starts in February or March (or at least where we play it does). We found out this is not the case in all parts of the country. Amanda told us about USTA’s Early Start League. WHAT?! We have never heard of such a league!

Amanda hadn’t heard of it before 2021 either but she was able to jump on board and start playing competitive tennis earlier than usual.

Here’s how USTA Florida’s Early Start League works:
  • Join a USTA Early Start League team and play tennis like it’s a regular season (around 8 matches with a full roster of players).
  • That season counts towards the following year’s NTRP rating.
  • Play on a team in which you are currently rated. Or, make a guess as to what rating you think you will be once the NTRP ratings are released. NTRP ratings are released each year in late November or early December.
  • The winner of the Early Start League will go on to play a playoff match against the winning team of a Spring League.
  • The winner of that playoff match advances to Florida’s Sectional Tournament.
This sounds great, right? Well, here’s one problem…

As mentioned, you have to make a guess on what your NTRP rating is going to be before you start playing USTA Early Start League. For instance, Amanda and her teammates won the 18+ and 40+ 3.5 National Championship. There was a good chance several of her teammates would get bumped to a higher tennis rating so they were taking a chance playing in the Early Start League.

Ratings Released and How it Effects the Spring Season

If you play the Early Start League in Florida, you have to be careful. For example, if a player is on a 3.5 team and gets bumped to a 4.0 when ratings are released, that player can no longer play on the same team in the Spring.

It’s all pretty crazy, right? But we also love the nuances of it all!

We had so many questions about this USTA Early Start League and are wondering if other parts of the country are doing this. Do you have an Early Start League in your area? If so, we want to hear about it!

Amanda has an amazing amount of tennis knowledge and has joined us on several episodes. You can listen to them here: