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Shawna Macfarlane has to be one of the busiest and most efficient women in Western New York tennis.

She is the Director of Tennis at Niagara Falls Country Club, president of the Buffalo Niagara Community Tennis Association, the coordinator for the United States Tennis Association’s Buffalo Leagues, and does an outstanding job in each.

The local USTA Leagues have more than 2,000 virtual tennis players and Macfarlane has data on each individual. In addition to administering the leagues, she’s also instrumental in bringing in new players and registering teams. She does all of the scheduling for the matches, runs all of the championships, and is in charge of the rules and regulations.

“The USTA League Program is the United States’ largest recreational tennis league,” Macfarlane said. “Every year there are more than 35,000 players nationwide who play, have a great time, and strive to improve their games.”

She stresses that the league play is so popular because of the team concept and that most players are playing with their friends.

New players who want to join the USTA League usually ask “What level of play should I sign up for?”

One of the main goals of the program is to help each player enjoy the game by providing a method of classifying all skill levels for more competitive matches.

The rating categories are generalizations about the skill levels. Some players will find that they actually play above or below the category which best describe their skill level, depending on their competitive ability. The category that you choose may be adjusted as your skills change or as your match play demonstrates the need for reclassification.

Nationally and locally Macfarlane is aware that the tennis population is moving toward senior levels, which stood at 50 and over and 60 and over for Super Seniors in the past. The national program noticed that there was great inequity when a senior player met a much younger player; especially in singles. There is a wide range of mobility and power differential between a 30-year-old and 55-year-old senior singles player. However, the rating system stated the same criteria for both participants.

This year the National League Program has taken giant steps to recognize these differences and has started to adjust the different age groups. The League System will have an 18 & Over League, which will play each match on two courts of singles and three courts of doubles.

The most noticeable change is the addition of the 40 & Over League which will use the same format of two courts for singles and three courts for doubles. The traditional senior leagues have been adjusted to 55 & Over and 65 & Over ; both venues being a three doubles court format.

The complete rating system for both men and women is as follows: 18 & Over, 40 & Over, 55 & Over, 65 & Over, 18 & Over Mixed, 40 & Over Mixed, Tri Level.

If you have never played in the USTA leagues you may probably be wondering what your level of play is if you are going to join. The following National Tennis Rating Program should help in determining your rating from a 2.5-5.5 player.

• 2.5: This player is trying to judge where the ball is going but has to improve court coverage. You can hit the ball back and forth for short periods of time with other players who have the same skills.

• 3.0: This player is comfortable with shots that have medium pace. However, you are not comfortable with all of your strokes when you are trying to direct your shots with control, depth, or power. You usually play doubles in a one-up, one back formation.

• 3.5: This player has improved his or her strokes and can direct moderate shots with control, is more aggressive at the net, has improved court coverage, and is becoming a good teammate to play doubles with.

• 4.0: You have reliable strokes and good direction on both your forehand and backhand when you are hitting moderate-paced shots. You are using lobs, overheads, approach shots and volleys with more success and can occasionally force an error on your serves.

• 4.5: You have improved power and spin and can handle heavily hit shots better. Your footwork is good and can control the depth on your shots, and can change your game plan according to the different types of players that you play against.

• 5.0: You routinely hit winners or force errors and put your short volleys away. You have great success when hitting lobs, drop shots, half volleys, and overheads. Your second serves have good depth and spin.

• 5.5: Your power and/or consistency has become a major weapon. You have different strategies and playing styles that allow you to play in competitive situations. You can also rely on reliable shots in a stressful situation.

If you are still not sure what level you are at after looking over the rating system you could get an opinion from a club professional or an advanced player who you have confidence in to give you an accurate assessment as to which level you should be playing at.

For more information contact Shawna Macfarlane at leaguetennisbuffalo@gmail.com or call 531-5862.

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