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View Full Version : No Dynamic DQ for Adult/Senior League Players with a solid Computer Rating?


awlmostpersuaded
12-01-2006, 06:40 AM
What would be wrong with USTA allowing Computer Rated Adult/Senior League players, who have a solid computer rating (5, 8, 10 matches in the Adult/Senior Leagues, or whatever USTA deems to be "solid"), to play - nationwide - all the way to nationals, in the level assigned to them by the computer, without being subject to Dynamic DQ? In other words "Pay your dues" in the Adult/Senior Leagues, and then be free to "play tennis"?

We know there will be cheaters and they have to live with themselves.

We know that playing ability will be "peaking" at Sectionals and Nationals.

We know that most of the players at Nationals are playing at a level above their rating - shouldn't this be "normal"?

What is worse, an honest player being Dynamically DQ'd because they "improved too much" - which is being "beat by a blind computer" - Or being beat by a better player on the court? - whoever they are.

Lets talk

raiden031
12-01-2006, 06:52 AM
Lets say you have a solid computer-rating of 3.0. Then suddenly you decide to get serious and start taking lessons and start playing 6 days a week for 2 hours a day. Do you think that person should be allowed to remain at 3.0 even though they can suddenly whip any 3.0 player out there?

Sounds unfair to me that you should be allowed to "lock in" at a certain level even if you are able to compete at a higher level due to alot of practice in a short period of time.

awlmostpersuaded
12-01-2006, 07:09 AM
Excellent "worst case scenario" Raiden :-)

Should there continue to be an "arbitrary limit" (Dynamic DQ) on how much a Computer Rated Adult/Senior League player can improve during the season?

raiden031
12-01-2006, 07:21 AM
Excellent "worst case scenario" Raiden :-)

Should there continue to be an "arbitrary limit" (Dynamic DQ) on how much a Computer Rated Adult/Senior League player can improve during the season?

It should be when the computer determines that you are too good to play at that level and good enough to play at the next level up, which according to their system is when your dynamic rating hits a specific threshold.

If you don't want to get bumped up, then don't commit yourself to the training that will make you good enough to play at the next level.

awlmostpersuaded
12-01-2006, 07:41 AM
Hmmmmmmm, this leaves me with a problem. How do the enthusiastic, excited, and honest Adult/Senior League players make it to Nationals? With "just the right amount" of practice?

Eviscerator
12-01-2006, 07:42 AM
I am not sure what your objection is with the current system in regards to computer generated players getting bumped?
If they play two seasons they are subject to have their rating recalculated for an early start rating, and of course there is the year end rating.

raiden031
12-01-2006, 07:43 AM
Hmmmmmmm, this leaves me with a problem. How do the enthusiastic, excited, and honest Adult/Senior League players make it to Nationals? With "just the right amount" of practice?

Perhaps this is where I end my argument because I think Nationals based on the arbitrary NTRP level is a stupid idea in the first place. I believe Nationals should be by either 1) age/sex, 2) open, 3) open, but restricting former college and pros

I completely understand your point though.

Jack the Hack
12-01-2006, 07:56 AM
Excellent "worst case scenario" Raiden :-)

Should there continue to be an "arbitrary limit" (Dynamic DQ) on how much a Computer Rated Adult/Senior League player can improve during the season?

I can tell you that the "worst case scenerio" Raiden mentioned can be real. On the team I played for last year, our #1 singles player had been rated at 4.0 for several years. He is a great athlete and spent more time doing other sports (primarily basketball, mountain biking, running, and skydiving... the guy is an animal). He was an excellent high school player years ago, but he never practiced much and never played tournaments anymore. However, we knew we had a team that had a very good shot going to sectionals and maybe nationals (ha, ha... we were very naive about what happens at sectionals). This guy started practicing all the time and playing tournaments. He easily went undefeated for us... and he was also recruited for a 4.5 team where he went 6-2. He got his third strike disqualification with us after the first round of districts. Fortunately, our team was strong enough to make it to sectionals anyway. It stunk to lose our guy, but realistically, there was no way we could argue that he was still a 4.0 and that was the breaks...

The problem is that there is rampant cheating with a lot of the teams that make it to sectionals or nationals. Some teams plan a couple years in advance, and they purposely have players play down. For instance, if you have a 4.0 team that regularly goes to sectionals, they will recruit a player that is a strong 4.5 or 5.0 - but unrated in the system - and have them self rate and play down at 3.5 for a year. The computer eventually bumps them up, but it is extremely rare for the USTA to bump someone more than one NTRP level. Therefore, viola', that player is now a "legitimate" 4.0 computer rated player. (If you don't think this really happens, you are as naive as we were until we played at sectionals this year and saw what was going on. There are teams out there that take this very seriously and they will pay players to cheat for them.)

The other thing that is extremely common is for captains to bury their ringers by only playing them a couple matches (usually in doubles) before going to the playoffs. Other times, players will purposely lose games or matches in order to avoid strikes or getting the year end bump.

By eliminating the dynamic disqualification like you are proposing, you are making it easier for teams to cheat. We played honestly with our team and made no effort to "hide" our best player. As a result, we ended up losing him to disqualification... so the current system sucked for us. However, if the unscrupulous teams knew that their bogus computer rated players were no longer subject to disqualification, they wouldn't have to make the effort to hide the ringers until the playoffs.

On that note, my team captain and I had a discussion about this the other day. He wasn't sure about this, but he heard that some sections do not have any disqualifications once a team reaches the playoffs. (He said there was a national petition to eliminate the playoff DQs in all sections.) If that is the case, the implication is that it is easier for one section to have teams that cheat and bury their self rated ringers than for others that have playoff DQs. If that is true, then it is another example of how the USTA League is completely broken.

At this point, I am convinced that there is no way you can win sectionals or nationals without cheating, and that is really sad. Therefore, I am against any proposal that makes it easier to cheat.

raiden031
12-01-2006, 08:08 AM
The men's 3.0 team that was like 3rd place in the nation is from Maryland and had 16 out of 20 players bumped up to 3.5 for year-end ratings.

Eviscerator
12-01-2006, 08:29 AM
Some teams plan a couple years in advance, and they purposely have players play down. For instance, if you have a 4.0 team that regularly goes to sectionals, they will recruit a player that is a strong 4.5 or 5.0 - but unrated in the system - and have them self rate and play down at 3.5 for a year. The computer eventually bumps them up, but it is extremely rare for the USTA to bump someone more than one NTRP level. Therefore, viola', that player is now a "legitimate" 4.0 computer rated player. (If you don't think this really happens, you are as naive as we were until we played at sectionals this year and saw what was going on. There are teams out there that take this very seriously and they will pay players to cheat for them.)



I ask this in all sincerity.

What evidence do you have that the aforementioned type of cheating goes on?

oldguysrule
12-01-2006, 09:03 AM
The men's 3.0 team that was like 3rd place in the nation is from Maryland and had 16 out of 20 players bumped up to 3.5 for year-end ratings.

I am not sure what your point here is. Most of their players should be bumped up for year-end ratings since they are playing at the top of their level.

The point of the thread is that sometimes a computer rated player will be DQ'd (ie, bumped) in the middle of league season. Thus, you have a player that is not allowed to finish the league that he started in good faith.

Jack the Hack
12-01-2006, 09:07 AM
I ask this in all sincerity.

What evidence do you have that the aforementioned type of cheating goes on?

I know a player who did this personally - in fact, I played against him just the other night. He's a strong 4.5 - borderline 5.0 - that plays Open tournaments. Three years ago, he self-rated for a 3.5 team and got bumped to 4.0... and then went to nationals with that 4.0 team (and this was a calculated ploy).

The team I played for last year had never advanced out of districts. Our whole goal was to get to sectionals and our captain assembled the best computer rated players he could find in our city. (He got burned with a self-rated player in the past, so he decided not to take that chance again.) We knew that some teams have hidden ringers/sandbaggers, but we were very naive until we saw some of the teams at sectionals. Having never reached that level, we had no idea what it took to win sectionals or go to nationals. However, we started researching the situation and realizing all of the methods that teams use to cheat the system and advance.

The only firsthand evidence of the "play down for a year to get a bogus computer rating" method I have is that player that I mentioned in the first paragraph. However, if one person has figured this loophole out, you have to believe that other teams have employed it also.

As for hiding ringers or throwing games to deflate your rating, you can take a look at the rosters of the teams that go to nationals in TennisLink. When you dig down through the details, how many times will you find that a player only plays a couple matches during the regular season, and then is suddenly the star singles player in the playoffs? How many unusual scores will you find where the player is losing matches to much lower rated competition (in matches that don't matter), but suddenly kicks everyone's tail at sectionals or nationals. (The Rants and Rave section used to have several bitter threads about this subject.)

This really creates an ethical dilemma for any team captain that wants to win...

raiden031
12-01-2006, 09:18 AM
I am not sure what your point here is. Most of their players should be bumped up for year-end ratings since they are playing at the top of their level.

The point of the thread is that sometimes a computer rated player will be DQ'd (ie, bumped) in the middle of league season. Thus, you have a player that is not allowed to finish the league that he started in good faith.

My point was the stupidity in drawing an arbitrary line to determine skill level at the national level and where the top teams making it to nationals actually consist of players who are above that skill level anyways.

If someone strives to improve so much that they end up getting DQ'd on a computer rating, then why were they bothering to play at that level in the first place? Because they want to sandbag without getting caught. They should have signed up for the next level up if they are worried about how quickly they will improve.

awlmostpersuaded
12-01-2006, 09:37 AM
Thanks everybody for these thoughts.

The problem driving my question is that honest, legitimate Computer Rated players (the backbone of the USTA Leagues) are being surprised with a DQ at Sectionals. Reasons:

1. They beat players who have high numbers, who are "sandbagging" to keep their level down.
2. They beat players who are not playing their best tennis on that day - for whatever reason.
3. Two legitimate level players team up and are better than the sum of their individual abilities and the one with the highest numbers gets DQ'd.
4. They beat players who had a higher level, then sat out a couple of years, then appealed down - they have high rating numbers but are rusty etc.

I have personally observed these scenarios and I'm sure there are others.

These honest players play to win, because they know they are playing "in-level" and are rewarded with a DQ at Sectionals - right when their playing ability is peaking.

To me this is happening far too often and amounts to "throwing the baby away with the bath water".

In League Areas where this happens, the enthusiasm for USTA League Tennis is squashed.

Somewhere there must be a balance between catching the dishonest sandbaggers and squashing the legitimate and honest players.

It seems to me that requiring 5 - 10 matches in the Adult/Senior Leagues, maybe even two or more full seasons at the same level, should make it not worth it for the intentional dishonest sandbagger and allow the honest players to play without threat of Dynamic DQ.

Does anyone see an answer to this dilemma?

Jack the Hack
12-01-2006, 10:07 AM
Thanks everybody for these thoughts.

The problem driving my question is that honest, legitimate Computer Rated players (the backbone of the USTA Leagues) are being surprised with a DQ at Sectionals. Reasons:

1. They beat players who have high numbers, who are "sandbagging" to keep their level down.
2. They beat players who are not playing their best tennis on that day - for whatever reason.
3. Two legitimate level players team up and are better than the sum of their individual abilities and the one with the highest numbers gets DQ'd.
4. They beat players who had a higher level, then sat out a couple of years, then appealed down - they have high rating numbers but are rusty etc.

I have personally observed these scenarios and I'm sure there are others.

These honest players play to win, because they know they are playing "in-level" and are rewarded with a DQ at Sectionals - right when their playing ability is peaking.

To me this is happening far too often and amounts to "throwing the baby away with the bath water".

In League Areas where this happens, the enthusiasm for USTA League Tennis is squashed.

Somewhere there must be a balance between catching the dishonest sandbaggers and squashing the legitimate and honest players.

It seems to me that requiring 5 - 10 matches in the Adult/Senior Leagues, maybe even two or more full seasons at the same level, should make it not worth it for the intentional dishonest sandbagger and allow the honest players to play without threat of Dynamic DQ.

Does anyone see an answer to this dilemma?

You are correct that "honest, legitimate Computer Rated players" can get screwed by the current system. These type of players do not hide out during the regular season or throw games to keep from getting a strike. We played our guy in every match and he played straight out, winning 6-0, 6-0 if he could. It hurt to lose him in the playoffs when we knew that other teams were probably hiding their top players, but that's the way we felt we should play... win honestly or don't play at all.

As for answers to the dilemma, I do like these potential changes (ideas taken from you and other posters):

1.) Require players to play more than two matches in the regular season to be eligible to play in the playoffs. (You mentioned 5-10 matches or two years of league play, which I really like. The problem with this is that some teams have lots of players on their roster and getting everyone that many matches could be tough.)

2.) Do not allow self rated players to play in the playoffs. All players in the districts, sectionals, or nationals must have a computer rating. (Obviously tough on new players, but discourages cheating.)

3.) Implement strict penalties for teams that are caught cheating. If a captain uses a player that can be proven is clearly over level (ie, a recent Division 1 college player playing at 3.5, 4.0, or even 4.5, or something similar), not only is the player disqualified, but the entire team is banned for a year (or two) and their results are thrown out.

Anybody have additional solutions?

bleach
12-01-2006, 10:17 AM
I have no problem with a player being DQ'd for surpassing the threshold (where ever it is defined) of the dynamic rating. But I do not think that all the player's matches should be DQ'ed retractively and the team punished. I'd say, DQ the player, but any matches that he played in good faith stand.

kylebarendrick
12-01-2006, 10:21 AM
Well, here's another scenario. I'm familiar with it because it is me!

I played my first adult league last year as a self-rated 3.0. At that point I'd been playing social tennis for about 2 years and my only league experience was playing in a mixed 6.0 league with my wife (who carried me). In the 2005 M3.0 league I didn't play very well and ended up with 2 wins and 5 losses. Not surprisingly, my first computer rating came in at 3.0.

Not wanting to repeat that performance, I began taking lessons during the winter. Overall I probably took 10 1-hour lessons with a pro and spent 1-2 hours per week practicing serves. I joined a 2006 3.0 league captained by my partner from the previous season. He had little faith in my abilities since he'd been on the court with me during my losses in the previous season. Accordingly, I started out playing only on the 3rd doubles line against weak opponents. My first couple of matches were relatively close wins, but as I got better I began winning easily - and my captain began to have some faith moving me up in the line-up. My goal was to reach 3.5 by the end of the year and I won each match by as large a margin as I could. Even though I was undefeated in the local league, I hadn't played enough to earn a 3.5 early start rating and was in no danger of being DQ'd. My partners, who didn't have the "benefit" of a low rating from a previous dismal season, all received 3.5ESRs.

By the time we reached the playoffs I was in the lineup for each match. I ended up 7-1 in the playoffs/districts/sectionals and 3-1 at nationals. Last week I received the 3.5 computer rating I had been working for.

So here's why I went into all that. Someone from the outside may look at my season and say "Gee, this guy self-rated as a 3.0, tanked for a year, and then hid in the lower doubles lines until the playoffs before coming out and smoking people just so he could play at nationals. What a cheater." I know that in reality I worked really hard to get better and I'm looking forward to competing at the next level. If I had been DQ'd at sectionals I would have been honored on the one-hand, since my goal was to reach the next level, but discouraged on the other since I could no longer play with my team.

It is dangerous to just look at someone's record and conclude they are cheating - you don't know the back-story behind their matches. The fine line is between DQ'ing someone that is clearly above level vs. punishing someone who worked their butt off to get better. Because of the level of competition at Sectionals, I would expect almost any player who wins a match to get a strike. My preference would be to eliminate the computer disqualifications at Sectionals and make use of the USTA officials present at the site to look for clearly above-level players - particularly those who are self rated.

raiden031
12-01-2006, 10:22 AM
You are correct that "honest, legitimate Computer Rated players" can get screwed by the current system. These type of players do not hide out during the regular season or throw games to keep from getting a strike. We played our guy in every match and he played straight out, winning 6-0, 6-0 if he could. It hurt to lose him in the playoffs when we knew that other teams were probably hiding their top players, but that's the way we felt we should play... win honestly or don't play at all.

As for answers to the dilemma, I do like these potential changes (ideas taken from you and other posters):

1.) Require players to play more than two matches in the regular season to be eligible to play in the playoffs. (You mentioned 5-10 matches or two years of league play, which I really like. The problem with this is that some teams have lots of players on their roster and getting everyone that many matches could be tough.)

2.) Do not allow self rated players to play in the playoffs. All players in the districts, sectionals, or nationals must have a computer rating. (Obviously tough on new players, but discourages cheating.)

3.) Implement strict penalties for teams that are caught cheating. If a captain uses a player that can be proven is clearly over level (ie, a recent Division 1 college player playing at 3.5, 4.0, or even 4.5, or something similar), not only is the player disqualified, but the entire team is banned for a year (or two) and their results are thrown out.

Anybody have additional solutions?

Get rid of national play based on NTRP. Keep it local.

awlmostpersuaded
12-01-2006, 11:02 AM
Good for you Kylebarendrick! I'm glad you weren't DQ'd at Sectionals!

Amen Bleach!

Great suggestions Jack. I'm compiling a list of positive suggestions to present to USTA.

There is another good illustration of the innocent player being DQ'd at Sectionals and all the team points earned by the player and their partner were reversed, dropping their team from first place to last, at http://www.ustapetition.com/scenario.html This player was rated 4.0 for the previous 4 years and observed at Sectionals by a former National Verifier, who stated after the DQ that the player was "playing in level".

We need some more positive suggestions and horror stories of innocent and legitimate players being surprised by a DQ.

maverick1
12-01-2006, 11:35 AM
I don't think someone who has had a legitimate rating for a year should be disqualified suddenly, especially after the "regular season". But to obesses over this is to miss the point

I agree with some other people here that the idea of a national championship restricted by skill level is odd.
Bumping up/disqualifying players in mid season makes that even more ridiculous.

Think about it. If the dynamic disqualification process worked to perfection, it would take away what little satisfaction there is in winning. If the system could detect sandbagging and could promptly bump up people who improve, what would winning mean? It would mean that the winner was lucky enough to maintain an actual rating of exactly 2.99 or 3.49 or 3.99 or .... A little higher or a little lower, no championship for him.

I feel the real value of graded competition is that the majority of opponents are similar to myself; that is optimal for improving my game and for having a fun match. As far as I am concerned, the NTRP system is working close to perfection. There are a few players "sandbagging" and a few playing higher than they should, but that gives the league some variety that I don't mind. To go with 5/6 tough matches, I want a couple of easy matches, and I want to play a couple of players much better than me. If I have to work hard to go over .500, I know that I am playing at the right level.

I find the word "disqualification" odd. I would call it "promotion". I just got bumped up and I was quite happy about it. I was hoping for it; I had tried to win my matches by as big a margin as possible just to improve the chances of being bumped up.

Eviscerator
12-01-2006, 12:09 PM
I know a player who did this personally - in fact, I played against him just the other night. He's a strong 4.5 - borderline 5.0 - that plays Open tournaments. Three years ago, he self-rated for a 3.5 team and got bumped to 4.0... and then went to nationals with that 4.0 team (and this was a calculated ploy).

Assuming he is telling you the truth and not just making up the story, then you need to report him and his captain (again assuming the captain was behind it). Anything less and all the complaining in the world on chat boards will be an exercise in futility.

Having never reached that level, we had no idea what it took to win sectionals or go to nationals. However, we started researching the situation and realizing all of the methods that teams use to cheat the system and advance.

Ok, what evidence did your research uncover, and more importantly, what did you do with that evidence once you had it?


However, if one person has figured this loophole out, you have to believe that other teams have employed it also.

That is obviously an assumption on your part.

While a captain or team can find many ways to cheat if they are so inclined, the only way to put a stop to it is file a grievance against the offending team.
The thing that puzzles me with the story is that it is unnessarelily elaborate, with much less effort needed to accomplish the same level of cheating. Additionally, you have to question a persons veracity that will freely admit to such now after the fact. Are they willing to come forward and expose the previous fraud? If not, why risk having you bring it too the USTA's attention?

As for hiding ringers or throwing games to deflate your rating, you can take a look at the rosters of the teams that go to nationals in TennisLink. When you dig down through the details, how many times will you find that a player only plays a couple matches during the regular season, and then is suddenly the star singles player in the playoffs? How many unusual scores will you find where the player is losing matches to much lower rated competition (in matches that don't matter), but suddenly kicks everyone's tail at sectionals or nationals.

Not to sound like a broken record, but once the time was taken to research these type of irregular playing patterns, what did you or your captain do with the information?

This really creates an ethical dilemma for any team captain that wants to win...

I would agree with you on this point, and that is why it is imperative that a team such as yourselves who feel you have been the victim of systemic cheating bring your findings to the light of day. Otherwise what is the point of complaining if you are unwilling to stand up for yourselves?

awlmostpersuaded
12-01-2006, 12:16 PM
Good post Maverick,

And, I too have a problem with the word "disqualification". The Dictionary definition under "sports" is to "declare ineligible for breaking rules".

I also have a problem with the term "three strikes". It obviously comes from baseball, where the batter gets 3 attempts and fails. To illustrate that this is a "punitive" term, some State Governments have passed a "three strikes and you are out" Law that mandates a lengthy prison sentance for criminals who use guns in committing a crime.

Now, how does this make the innocent League player, who is surprised by a DQ feel?

If USTA expects all the players to know that there is a danger in letting your rating get too high, then the honest player is getting DQ'd for NOT sandbagging!

Being "bumped up" to the next level SHOULD be a promotion! Surely there is a way to fix these things.

All the information I have read about Dynamic DQ states that it was designed to catch "Self Rated" players who are rated too low by themselves, their Captains, or their Professionals:

Quotes from the www.USTA.com National web site and the TennisLink FAQ's:

a. Dynamic DQ of a "Computer Rated" player should be "very rare" and the "chances are slim" of a Computer Rated player being Dynamically Disqualified.

b. Historically, visual NTRP disqualifications have been rare. There is no reason to believe that will change, so long as players are "self-rating accurately."

c. Dynamic Disqualification happens because - "you, your captain, or your tennis professional indicated an NTRP level much too low for your ability on your self-rating."

d. The "3 strike penalty is there to discourage the captain from placing "clearly above level" players on his team."

The Dynamic Disqualification of Computer Rated players who have had solid computer ratings for years - at the same level - in the same League - needs some re-thinking.

kylebarendrick
12-01-2006, 12:55 PM
Maybe USTA can just use a higher threshold to generate strikes for computer-rated players. In terms of fairness, I can see how a player that improves to the point where they have a dynamic rating that would bump them up two levels (say from a 3.0 to a 4.0) should no longer be allowed to compete in league play against a 3.0. With this in mind, using a 1/2 point threshold for computer-rated players would make sense. This should be less a punishment than an acknowledgement of their improvement and the non-competetiveness of matches at the lower level. I'd agree that results for matches played in good faith should stand in this case.

Self-rated players or players with an insufficient history for the above case would continue to generate strikes according to the current system. In these cases, the system shouldn't be allowing for improvement as would be appropriate for players with an extensive history, but rather checking to see if the player rated correctly to begin with. A DQ'd self-rated player should still have their previous matches overturned to encourage captains to rate fairly.

oldguysrule
12-01-2006, 12:59 PM
You are correct that "honest, legitimate Computer Rated players" can get screwed by the current system. These type of players do not hide out during the regular season or throw games to keep from getting a strike. We played our guy in every match and he played straight out, winning 6-0, 6-0 if he could. It hurt to lose him in the playoffs when we knew that other teams were probably hiding their top players, but that's the way we felt we should play... win honestly or don't play at all.

As for answers to the dilemma, I do like these potential changes (ideas taken from you and other posters):

1.) Require players to play more than two matches in the regular season to be eligible to play in the playoffs. (You mentioned 5-10 matches or two years of league play, which I really like. The problem with this is that some teams have lots of players on their roster and getting everyone that many matches could be tough.)

2.) Do not allow self rated players to play in the playoffs. All players in the districts, sectionals, or nationals must have a computer rating. (Obviously tough on new players, but discourages cheating.)

3.) Implement strict penalties for teams that are caught cheating. If a captain uses a player that can be proven is clearly over level (ie, a recent Division 1 college player playing at 3.5, 4.0, or even 4.5, or something similar), not only is the player disqualified, but the entire team is banned for a year (or two) and their results are thrown out.

Anybody have additional solutions?


Great suggestions...Here is one more.
Limit the number of players on a team to 14. Benefits: fewer opportunities to hide ringers. More teams, more opportunity to play.

cak
12-01-2006, 04:13 PM
Maybe USTA can just use a higher threshold to generate strikes for computer-rated players. In terms of fairness, I can see how a player that improves to the point where they have a dynamic rating that would bump them up two levels (say from a 3.0 to a 4.0) should no longer be allowed to compete in league play against a 3.0. With this in mind, using a 1/2 point threshold for computer-rated players would make sense. This should be less a punishment than an acknowledgement of their improvement and the non-competetiveness of matches at the lower level. I'd agree that results for matches played in good faith should stand in this case.

Self-rated players or players with an insufficient history for the above case would continue to generate strikes according to the current system. In these cases, the system shouldn't be allowing for improvement as would be appropriate for players with an extensive history, but rather checking to see if the player rated correctly to begin with. A DQ'd self-rated player should still have their previous matches overturned to encourage captains to rate fairly.

Strikes aren't generated when your Dynamic rating bumps you, they are generated when your dynamic rating would put you .3 into the next rating. So if you are a 3.5, (internal rating 3.01 to 3.5) and your DNTRP hits 3.6 three times you won't get DQ'd, you would have to hit 3.8 three times, or in other words, your game score must look not like you are a 4.0, but you are a good 4.0.

Jack the Hack
12-01-2006, 04:51 PM
Assuming he is telling you the truth and not just making up the story, then you need to report him and his captain (again assuming the captain was behind it). Anything less and all the complaining in the world on chat boards will be an exercise in futility.

I returned to tennis after a 4 year layoff at the end of 2004. I met the cheating player that I referred to at the 4.5+ men's night at my club and was impressed by his speed and outstanding volleys (he's a very talented doubles player). 2004 was the year that he went to nationals and he was bumped up to his rightful skill level at the end of that year. It wasn't until this year that I played on a serious USTA league team again, so that guy's two year sandbagging trick never effected me directly as it happened well before I got back in the game. However, seeing what he did gave me insight into this loophole in the system. (The captain of that team has not played for the past couple years, so reporting all of this now seems pretty futile.)

Ok, what evidence did your research uncover, and more importantly, what did you do with that evidence once you had it?

The most outrageous thing we found was this:

One of the teams we faced at sectionals had a self rated player at #1 singles that only played two matches during the regular season (one in doubles), but suddenly he won all of his district matches easily over players with excellent records. We looked his name up on the Internet, and the only thing we could find was someone with the exact same name who played in multiple ITF Futures events in Europe, India, and Africa. Sure enough, when I went out to play this guy, he was from overseas. He got up 5-0 after about 10 minutes, blasting winner after winner. On one point, he came to the net and I hit a shot to his forehand as hard as I can hit, which he volleyed right back to me and moved over to cover the down the line shot. I then blasted my next shot cross-court, which was away from where he had anticipated... but he reached around behind his back and volleyed the ball away for a winner. I've never seen anybody with the racquet skills to do what he did except in the 5.0+ Open level!

At that point, I began asking him questions during the changeovers, thinking of the grievance we would file. (Sample question: Where did you learn to play like that? Answer: I've only been hitting with my friends for a year - I've never played organized tennis before.) Once I started asking questions, all of a sudden the guy started to throw games. In the first 5 games, he was hitting big serves and hammering topspin backhands. Next thing I know, he's just spinning his serve in and slicing his backhand down the middle of the court. I won a few games in a row, and then he served the set out. The second set went pretty much the same. It was clear to me that he was toying around, just trying to make the match close enough so that he wouldn't get a strike.

Anyway, after that match, we filed a grievance against not only that player, but several others on that team that we felt had suspicious records/ratings. (As it turned out, all of the other teams that played them in the tournament also filed grievances). We showed the USTA Sectional League Coordinator the ITF results that we had found on the Internet, and the evidence that this team might have been hiding ringers. To her credit, we felt the USTA person took our appeal seriously and she had a discussion with the captain of that team and their player. In the end, he denied that he was the player that we found on the Internet, and there was no way for the USTA to prove that he was the same person. Interestingly, he did admit that he had played some college tennis in India, but it supposedly was no higher than junior college play in the US (the USTA had no way to verify this). However, to me, that showed he was a liar because he had told me that he had never played organized tennis before (which I knew was BS).

That is obviously an assumption on your part.

Yes, it is an assumption that other teams would find this apparent loophole in the system. It kind of sounds like you don't believe that teams would actually stoop to this... but consider:

The NorCal 4.0 team that went to nationals this year is currently being accused of using players that were not really on their team. In other words, they substituted 5.0 level players in place of guys on their team and just had the ringers use their identity.

And then there is this gem from another thread where the poster was describing what happened when they tried to implement a more dynamic or fair rating system at his club:

Here's the cheating part. When you enter scores you can tell immediately how it affects your rating. In TPI (our version) used the DNTRP algoritm. You could tell how much different a 6-1, 6-1 win would affect your score, versus a 6-4, 6-4 win. Winners would fudge the scores so they didn't move their rating. Losers would be happy not to be go down. Or folks would sandbag to ensure their ratings weren't moving. Or they would put scores in for friends they didn't play against, who aren't following the scores because they are injured and haven't been on the court for months. Or they would borrow people's names and ratings to put in a foursome where 3 players had numbers, and the fourth was about the same rating they figured. You need more than a few to participate, you need buy in from all the players for the scores to be entered correctly and people to be checking the scores. At our club we were on the system because of a few players, and the rest made it into a joke so even the few players couldn't get decent readings out of it.

Unfortunately, while I believe that most people are honest and fair, there are also a bunch of rotten apples out there that will win at all costs... and competition just brings the worst out in them.


While a captain or team can find many ways to cheat if they are so inclined, the only way to put a stop to it is file a grievance against the offending team. The thing that puzzles me with the story is that it is unnessarelily elaborate, with much less effort needed to accomplish the same level of cheating. Additionally, you have to question a persons veracity that will freely admit to such now after the fact. Are they willing to come forward and expose the previous fraud? If not, why risk having you bring it too the USTA's attention?

As I mentioned, in the case I know about, the cheating occurred over two years ago and the player doesn't even play league tennis anymore... at least not at the incorrect level. The captain is out of the game completely as far as I know. They went to nationals and lost. They have nothing to gain or lose now.

Not to sound like a broken record, but once the time was taken to research these type of irregular playing patterns, what did you or your captain do with the information?

See above; we filed a grievance with the sectional League coordinator.

I would agree with you on this point, and that is why it is imperative that a team such as yourselves who feel you have been the victim of systemic cheating bring your findings to the light of day. Otherwise what is the point of complaining if you are unwilling to stand up for yourselves?


Again, see above. We filed the proper grievance. Our section coordinator did an investigation, but couldn't/didn't do anything. That team won, and now 6 of their players have been bumped up.

The point of my posts isn't really to complain about our experience. Playing on that team and going to sectionals was one of the best experiences I have had in tennis. In the district finals, we were tied at 2-2, and I won a third set super tiebreaker 12-10 to win the match for our team. I've never felt this before, but the hair on the back of my neck felt like it was standing up and I literally got goosebumps when I won that match. (I've won a lot of tournaments in my 20+ years of tennis, but that was the best feeling ever.) Seeing what was going on at sectionals and hearing other's stories about nationals is what concerns me... but I am not bitter about our particular situation. Rather, I am just pointing out some of the large holes in the system that me and my friends have observed - and how I don't like the idea of eliminating the dynamic DQ in the playoffs because of this... there has to be a better way.

On that note, here's another loophole that we thought of:

What's to stop a player from moving into a new area and signing up for a USTA membership with an assumed name or nickname? If nobody knew who you were, you could self rate as whatever level you wanted and nobody could trace it. From what I've seen, the USTA doesn't actually check IDs at tournaments or league playoffs (although, I guess that might change if what NorCal is accused of doing turns out to be true).

kylebarendrick
12-01-2006, 05:23 PM
Strikes aren't generated when your Dynamic rating bumps you, they are generated when your dynamic rating would put you .3 into the next rating. So if you are a 3.5, (internal rating 3.01 to 3.5) and your DNTRP hits 3.6 three times you won't get DQ'd, you would have to hit 3.8 three times, or in other words, your game score must look not like you are a 4.0, but you are a good 4.0.

Agreed, if what I wrote implied otherwise then I failed to write clearly. I guess what I was proposing was using that .3 value for self-rated or small-history players and a larger .5 value for solidly computer rated players. This would further reduce the likelihood of computer rated players being DQ'd while still bumping those who really should be two levels higher.

Eviscerator
12-01-2006, 07:03 PM
Well Jack the hack, I appreciate the effort you put in to recount what happened and the steps taken on your teams behalf. I have no doubt cheating has and does occur in many different ways.
I also know that the USTA being a predominately volunteer staff at the local league level, does not have the resources nor the desire to vet all the shenanigans that can go on if a person/team is determined to cheat. Even in the old days of verifiers at both the initial rating phase and at the championship phase, cheating still went on. For example, when a ringer sees a verifier watching, they just tank until the roving verifier moves to another court. Ultimately, if a team wants to cheat they can risk it and if they are not caught they can ruin everyone else's legitimate shot at going to a higher level.

The irony of this discussion within this thread is that the OP want to eliminate a means of catching cheats at the championship levels so innocent players do not get DQ'd along with the cheats. Trouble is that no system is fool-proof, and unless everyone plays fair and by the rules it can create a bad experience for the majority of honorable players.
Personally I think the only way to eliminate most of the cheating would be through player education by stressing what the rules are to each and every player, and that violation of said rules as it pertains to major cheating will bring severe penalties for the offending player/team/captain. Something like a 3 year ban from all USTA league and tournament play would deter many of them. If the penalty is not strong enough, there will be little reason for an unscrupulous captain/team to abide by the rules.

CrocodileRock
12-01-2006, 07:17 PM
[QUOTE=raiden031;1096105]It should be when the computer determines that you are too good to play at that level and good enough to play at the next level up, which according to their system is when your dynamic rating hits a specific threshold.

The last thing I want to do is let the computer make more ridiculous decisions. We have read the horror stories here and know of our own stories too when there is not a rational human being in the process. One of the best guys on our team was undefeated in league, undefeated in sectionals, and posted a winning record in nationals even though he retired one match when we had already won 3, and won at least one singles tournament this year. Guess what? He is still 4.0 next year, while one of our guys with a losing record at nationals is bumped up. Amazing.

One of the guys from Missouri Valley got DQ'd at sectionals right before the final. His team won anyway, but had to go to nationals without him, where I'm sure they faced better guys that hadn't been DQ'd.

The biggest problems I see are:
1. There are no clear delineations between the levels, therefore it can be impossible to say someone is above level.
2. There are different standards between the sections. For example, Texas 4.0 men have finished in the final 4 for 4 straight years. Our standard is probably higher than in some of the other sections that never make the final 4.
3. There is not uniform enforcement of "above level" players. I really feel for the Mo. Valley guy. Instead of his practice and improvement paying off for them, it cost them dearly. One person can sometimes be the difference between a 3-2 win, and a 3-2 loss. We had some 3-2 wins that might have been 3-2 losses had we been forced to play without some of our stars.

I for one don't believe a computer can redress any of these issues. It has probably caused more problems than it can ever solve.

Lastly, whatever the system is, unscrupulous people will find a way to beat it. I don't believe there is any way to suddenly cure all that ails us, so why jump on this bandwagon. Let's just play for the same reasons we started - fun, exercise, meeting new people, travel, etc.

cak
12-02-2006, 06:36 AM
On that note, here's another loophole that we thought of:

What's to stop a player from moving into a new area and signing up for a USTA membership with an assumed name or nickname? If nobody knew who you were, you could self rate as whatever level you wanted and nobody could trace it. From what I've seen, the USTA doesn't actually check IDs at tournaments or league playoffs (although, I guess that might change if what NorCal is accused of doing turns out to be true).

That's been done. In NorCal we found a player that moved from, I believe Hawaii, and bumped down his level when he moved. His excuse was he felt NorCal was higher, so going down a level was fair.

TDK V1
12-03-2006, 10:44 AM
[quote=raiden031;1096105]It should be when the computer determines that you are too good to play at that level and good enough to play at the next level up, which according to their system is when your dynamic rating hits a specific threshold.

The last thing I want to do is let the computer make more ridiculous decisions. We have read the horror stories here and know of our own stories too when there is not a rational human being in the process. One of the best guys on our team was undefeated in league, undefeated in sectionals, and posted a winning record in nationals even though he retired one match when we had already won 3, and won at least one singles tournament this year. Guess what? He is still 4.0 next year, while one of our guys with a losing record at nationals is bumped up. Amazing.

One of the guys from Missouri Valley got DQ'd at sectionals right before the final. His team won anyway, but had to go to nationals without him, where I'm sure they faced better guys that hadn't been DQ'd.

The biggest problems I see are:
1. There are no clear delineations between the levels, therefore it can be impossible to say someone is above level.
2. There are different standards between the sections. For example, Texas 4.0 men have finished in the final 4 for 4 straight years. Our standard is probably higher than in some of the other sections that never make the final 4.
3. There is not uniform enforcement of "above level" players. I really feel for the Mo. Valley guy. Instead of his practice and improvement paying off for them, it cost them dearly. One person can sometimes be the difference between a 3-2 win, and a 3-2 loss. We had some 3-2 wins that might have been 3-2 losses had we been forced to play without some of our stars.

I for one don't believe a computer can redress any of these issues. It has probably caused more problems than it can ever solve.

Lastly, whatever the system is, unscrupulous people will find a way to beat it. I don't believe there is any way to suddenly cure all that ails us, so why jump on this bandwagon. Let's just play for the same reasons we started - fun, exercise, meeting new people, travel, etc.

The best way I (and many other players) make the most out of the system and get in some really competitive tennis is to play at your level and also a level up at the same time. The computer has a better average on your level
if you have for example; 4.5 & 5.0 matches during the same season.
There are anomalies that I can't explain even doing this. ex; I know 4.5 players that have won most (if not all) of their 5.0 matches and still remain at 4.5...I know it depends on who they played and their rating but it doesn't add up in many cases. I also know players bumped 3 straight seasons and appealed successfully three straight times.
Whatever, just go out there and do your best, appeal or not, and play!:rolleyes:

thinktowin
12-23-2006, 11:13 AM
In response to "Jack the Hack"..............At this point, I am convinced that there is no way you can win sectionals or nationals without cheating, and that is really sad.

I'd like to respectfully disagree. I've been the captain of two 4.0 teams that won our section twice in a three year period. The first year we didn't make it out of our pool at Nationals. The second year, 2004, we won the National tournament.

I think you win sectionals or ultimately the national tournament by planning and more critically by having enough good players that no one has to play more than once a day. Our sectional tournament consists of six matches in three days if you go all the way to the finals.

I never had a player dq'd under the old system and haven't had anyone "promoted" during the season under the dynamic system. Last year we lost in the finals at sectionals in 4.5 and are attempting to put a team together this year that will win it all in 4.5's.

I'm not saying that other teams or captains don't cheat. I'm just telling you it's possible to win by planning and having enough players to have fresh guys on Sunday when everyone else is tired. The down side to this is that your guys don't get as many local matches.

Eviscerator
12-23-2006, 06:52 PM
There are so many variables involved, one for example is the amount of matches a team/player will play. There are teams that only have one other team to compete against and only one season per year. So they may play 6 matches all year against the same competition. Then there are teams that play 9 other teams twice per season for 36 matches over the course of the year. Even if every player does not participate in every match, they are obviously more likely to be bumped based on the number of matches played vs. the first example.

10sguy
12-24-2006, 12:43 AM
Here's what I believe is a slightly out-of-the-box solution which could go a LONG way toward eliminating hiding/sandbagging:

CHANGE LEAGUE STANDINGS (LEAGUE WINNERS) determination from the current "matches won/lost" (with all the tiebreakers different Sections may have) to one where league standings are determined by GAMES WON/LOST; I envision a system where teams gets a "POINT" for each game won, plus a BONUS POINT for winning a set (Note: Bonus points are only awarded for sets won by scores of 6 - 0 through 6 - 4 . . . if a set score is 7 - 5 or 7 - 6, that's what you get, period). To reiterate, league standings would be determined by the best PERCENTAGE of games WON/LOST. Traditional TEAM WINS/LOSSES would be somewhere down the heirarchy of standings tiebreakers; Although with this system though, I wouldn't anticipate many standings ties.

The MAIN POINT of this system though - is it acts as a disincentive for sandbagging! Think about it; Even if some of the aforementioned cheating sandbaggers were to sit out (for however long) or blow off one whole season in order to go into a subsequent season at a desired NTRP level, they would still have to "put out" in order to win in the current season. Combine this standings determination methodology with a new requirement that players MUST HAVE played in at least half of their team's matches, to be eligible to participate in League Playoffs/Districts/Sectionals - or advance to Nationals with their team . . . and retain the current "three strikes" thresholds. It might be painful (for some) at first, but the desired overall result of more level playing fields for all should soon be a reality.

I'm a Sectional ALC (Adult Leagues Committee) member who's about to propose this, not only to my Section (as a potential pilot), but to National as well. Your thoughts, everyone? (just give it the benefit of some REAL thought first) Thanks!

cak
12-24-2006, 07:33 AM
Combine this standings determination methodology with a new requirement that players MUST HAVE played in at least half of their team's matches, to be eligible to participate in League Playoffs/Districts/Sectionals - or advance to Nationals with their team . . . and retain the current "three strikes" thresholds. It might be painful (for some) at first, but the desired overall result of more level playing fields for all should soon be a reality.

There are many clubs that have enough players to field one team at a level, but not quite enough for two. If everyone on the team was available for every match no player would have played half in half of their team's matches. In the fall it is not unusual for players to be on combo, senior, and mixed teams simultaneously. The teams work around this by having large rosters. Also players do get hurt. I've had injuries that took me out for over half a season. I think requiring players to play in half their team's matches is unworkable.

goober
12-24-2006, 09:38 AM
Lastly, whatever the system is, unscrupulous people will find a way to beat it. I don't believe there is any way to suddenly cure all that ails us, so why jump on this bandwagon. Let's just play for the same reasons we started - fun, exercise, meeting new people, travel, etc.

Its amazing you are still posting this stuff. It is like if you keep posting this than you think everyone eventually will believe you. You beat the system and you got away with it. You put a team together to win nationals with a self rated player that did not follow the USTA self rating guidelines and you are still claiming that you are playing for fun and exercise. Sure other teams did it as well but you are so far in a state of denial that you can't even see how much crap you are buried in.

10sguy
12-24-2006, 10:12 AM
(see preceeding messages below)

You're right; After posting, I realized that piece of the proposal was likely unworkable primarily due to the reasons you cited. It does seem though, its going to be necessary to brainstorm SOMEthing to inhibit teams from "hiding" ringers (by them only playing a ridiculous minimum number of matches) until playoffs/postseason competition. Regarding "the fall season," different USTA Sections apparently schedule their leagues at different times of the year (likely due to varying weather conditions in different parts of the country). If players in your area might have to join one less team, but we end up with much more level playing fields, I'd bet it's worth it . . . because many feel we're losing players now disgusted with sandbagging/ratings game-playing.


************************************************** *******
Originally Posted by 10sguy:
Combine this standings determination methodology with a new requirement that players MUST HAVE played in at least half of their team's matches, to be eligible to participate in League Playoffs/Districts/Sectionals - or advance to Nationals with their team . . . and retain the current "three strikes" thresholds. It might be painful (for some) at first, but the desired overall result of more level playing fields for all should soon be a reality.
************************************************** *******
Reply by CAK:
There are many clubs that have enough players to field one team at a level, but not quite enough for two. If everyone on the team was available for every match no player would have played half in half of their team's matches. In the fall it is not unusual for players to be on combo, senior, and mixed teams simultaneously. The teams work around this by having large rosters. Also players do get hurt. I've had injuries that took me out for over half a season. I think requiring players to play in half their team's matches is unworkable.