Question: I am a 55 year-old who is stuck at 5.0. My state has no 5.0 USTA leagues. I am frustrated because I am not a true 5.0 player. I am a player who is good for my age but when I play against the true 5.0s (who are significantly younger), whether in my state or in non-usta leagues, I get killed. I just want to play leagues tennis; but the system is stacked against a player like me! Any thoughts?
This question raises several points for all players of all levels, not just 5.0s
Tennis League Analytics' post on "How many players are in each NTRP level", shows that USTA league players rated NTRP level 5.0 are in the top 2% of all USTA players.
That one fact may be what leads to frustration for this particular case. There are relatively very few players at 5.0 so finding players that can give provide a "good" match is not easy.
Another possibility is that this player may be a player on the border of the 4.5 and 5.0 ratings. For example, their dynamic NTRP rating may be 4.51. Keep in mind that any player with a dynamic rating in the range of 4.51 to 5.00 is classified as an NTRP 5.0 player. So while the player may feel they are not a "true" 5.0 player, the USTA intentionally and specifically classifies them as a true 5.0 player.
The same treatment would apply to players with dynamic ratings near 3.01, 3.51, and 4.01. All players with dynamic NTRP ratings fall at the bottom of their USTA rating level. That's just the way the USTA works. If these players ratings would fall just one hundredth of a point, they would be the "strongest" players in their levels and be recruited by every team trying to make a run at sectionals or nationals. However, being +1 tips them over into a higher level and now they are at the "bottom" of a stronger level.
It's not uncommon for players in the 50 to 65 year-old range to express similar frustrations with regard to playing younger players. The USTA gives players age 60+, 65+, and 70+ the ability to automatically be granted an appeal of their current rating back to their previous rating in certain situations. Learn more at USTA's NTRP Ratings page. Players over age 50 can start to manage their ratings a few years ahead so they can wind up in their desired USTA level for the remainder of their league participation.
The following are ways some players have dealt with the situation described: