Stephen Amritraj has seen his share of tennis at all levels. The former Division I standout at Duke tried his hand in professional tennis before joining the coaching and player development ranks, but one topic kept nagging him: How legit are the tennis ranking systems we're used to?

From pros to junior players, and all the way down to recreational league players, rankings are used to pair up individuals and create matches in the interest of fairness and entertainment. But during Amritraj's tennis odyssey, he discovered a new-age system that changed his perspective on the topic.

He joined host Kamau Murray on the Podcast to discuss why the Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) matters, and why it works for everyone.


"Mackenzie McDonald used to come down from UCLA to hit with Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey," Amritraj said, recounting the first time his eyes were opened by the new ranking system. "UTR had him at about 100 in the world, which was exactly where I thought he was. It just gives an objective understanding of the player's level."

That certainly has been the case with Mackie and countless other pros, who have had to wait a while before their traditional ranking has caught up with their Universal Tennis evaluation. And as a junior or college player, where there is no professional system to go off of, UTR has become even more important.

For example, Murray has seen more than a few highly skilled junior tennis players in American lack toughness and develop unfortunate habits such as ducking matches against good opponents, a tell-tale sign that they aren't cut out for the big leagues. Universal Tennis does flag these occurrences and the player's ranking will reflect that.

"The ability to go out there and be tough and problem solve is really what's all about at that level," recounted Amritraj, a former All-ACC tennis player. He also offered his own mantra to kids fighting to make it to college or beyond, just like he once was: "Just try to take a step back and look at the big picture. Improve every day, enjoy the process, and really have fun with what you're doing."


It's always refreshing to hear about any method to improve the sport we know and love, and Universal Tennis is committed to doing just that. They've started organizing $25,000 prize money events that are streaming on Amazon—which allows coaches to analyze and consult with their players, who won't have to worry about paying for travel to every single tournament.

Stephen Amritraj has a popular name in this sphere, as the nephew of tennis royalty (Vijay Amritraj), the husband of a WTA mainstay (Alison Riske), and the cousin of a budding media personality whose workout routines are becoming the stuff of legends (Prakash Amritraj). The Chief Tennis Officer still puts in the work, bringing Universal Tennis to the masses and improving everyone's experience in the game.