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View Full Version : Do Players Have to Cheat to Win?


10sguy
12-03-2006, 09:07 PM
It's believed by some that a perception exists (yes, this of course is putting it mildly) that, in order to win in league tennis, some form of cheating is usually necessary. The cheating can be anything from a simple mistake by an uninformed newcomer on self-rating, to outright fudging on self-rating (including lying or being less than completely honest regarding playing history), to sandbagging (playing at less than full effort or capability - including intentionally losing games, sets, even matches) in an effort to keep one's rating at a level where they can win, to blatant cheating (bad lines calls, etc.) in matches. There is a growing feeling that this perception (if it exists) results in (1) Difficulty in recruiting new league players . . . (2) Difficulty in retaining league players, and . . . (3) Difficulty in recovering lapsed (former) league players. These are known in USTA circles as the "three R's" of league tennis; In order to maintain and grow, we must RECRUIT new players, RETAIN existing players, and RECOVER lapsed (former) players.

The traditional tennis scoring system used for league tennis (match results generate player ratings) leaves plenty of wiggle room (for those so disposed) to manipulate their scores in order to achieve a desired result (the rating they want) so they can continue to "win."

Can this group brainstorm possible alternative determinations of league standings, something which would provide clear incentives to put forth maximum effort every time out? Another way of putting it is to come up with a scoring/standings determination methodology which provides a disincentive to put forth less than full effort.

Those are just the frameworks of ideas which some have been tossing about; Please don't be restricted by what's in the above paragraph.

We supposedly pride ourselves in being part of a sport which oozes sportsmanship, but that aspect seems all too often to be lacking among some in league tennis. Having league tennis organized by playing levels (NTRP) is SUPPOSED to result in competitive matches, however the desired "level playing field" is lost when the system is manipulated for selfish personal/team reasons.

Please get rolling on this; Remember, no idea is "wrong" during a brainstorming session. Just throw it out there . . . you never know what might give birth to someone else's truly creative thought.

Duzza
12-03-2006, 09:24 PM
Cheating gets you no where, apart from one point closer to the game, and in the end is it really worth it?

cak
12-03-2006, 09:37 PM
I believe cheating is not necessary to win a match, or even to win most matches. I believe cheating in the way you have defined it is necessary to win Nationals in adult or mixed leagues. Mostly because, the way you defined it, it is impossible to accurately police. So, here's my idea. It's no longer cheating. You can self rate however you want. Once rated manage your rating until your hearts content. Once everyone is doing it, it's no longer cheating. No three strikes. No visual rating defaults. No filing grievances. That's the road to Nationals.

Meanwhile have other leagues that top out at local playoffs. They have a code for ratings and such, just like today's leagues. Winner gets a banner that says something like "Nor Cal Lower Pennisula Women's 2.5 champs." Make it suitable to hang on their courts. I suspect, without the glory of Nationals, the people who will do anything for a National championship will shun this league, leaving it for the folks looking for friendly play against like minded folks that actually play that level. There will be lots more champions. I also suspect there will be lots more players. (Note, if I see people cheating to get a banner, I'd say drop the playoffs altogether.)

Now, for the folks that like to play people from around the country organize weekend tournaments for teams, say a 3.5 team tournament. Teams from all around the country come. The way you get in, your team gets the most votes from teams you've played against. That's right, think of it as "Miss Congeniality" based tournies. I guarantee the cheaters won't make it to this one.

Cindysphinx
12-03-2006, 10:03 PM
Is it really that bad?

I dunno. I show up for my matches. I lose most, I win a few. I go home with goals for the future.

I mean, no one is going to Wimbledon based on what happens at league. No money is at stake. If someone selfrates too low and also takes a dive on some games to avoid disqualification, thereby never challenging themselves, then they are destined to never get any better. If they want it that badly, they can have it.

And really, how exciting can it be to tell people you won a Ladies 3.0 tournament if all your pals know you play way better than that? That's nothing against those who win tournaments at the lower levels of our sport. I have a 2.5 singles trophy, and I still mention it to anyone who will listen! Did ya hear that, people! I went home with that 2.5 bling! :D

The title is only meaningful to me because I came by it honestly.

CanadianChic
12-03-2006, 10:14 PM
If someone has to cheat to win they will never achieve victory, only a piece of tin or glass commemorating their inability to reach greatness through skill.

betiYonex
12-04-2006, 01:05 AM
It's sad but true.
This is the point where the american way of winning or being a loser is leading us.
There's no room for a great lose after a complete match. Only winning matters.
That's why I see great junior tennis players with initial problems to win be apparted by team captains and sponsors. Good future tennis players with delayed physical development are beeing ejected from the sport as they arenīt winning initial matches and tournaments.
The winning juniors but not so skilled are the must. They win and it's Ok.
Not to fight, train or learn. They know they are judged about his ranking and they limit themselves to win. If cheating is needed, cheating is Ok. For them, their trainers, parents, etc.... And it is being generalized and assumed by all people.
It's a hard task for us trainers to learn about fighting, learning, personal objectives, self-discypline, sportmanship, etc...
Where is that old gentleman sport we was once talked about?
regards

federer_nadal
12-04-2006, 02:20 AM
if you cheat yourself to the top, one day when you have to play a good honest game you are fuhked. I will take loss after loss on the chest before i will ever cheat because you cant get to the top without having your share of losses. Apparently Federer wasnt an awesome junior and was very sad and disappointed when he lost, and now look at him. Losing gives me and gave him the desire to get better and hopefully one day all this will pay off and i will be able to give people the losses.

tennis-n-sc
12-04-2006, 03:22 AM
"When the score keeper comes to record the names,
He'll ask not who won or lost, but how you played the game."

When winning at any cost becomes the mantra, playing with honor always takes a back seat. I've been on a team that went to state several times and finally won. We did well at sectionals, losing once to the eventual winner. Everyone on our team had a legitimate rating and we had all been together for about four years. We had an unbelieveable bond. So, yes you can win without cheating. And I also believe that at the end of the day, honest players come from honest people. These people would never consider hooking someone on a line call, even in a heated match. I've never witnessed anyone become a moral person by winning a match on a tennis court but I have seen many honorable people walk onto a court, lose the match, and leave the court with their honor. What's more important?

goober
12-04-2006, 04:23 AM
If you want to get cheating out of USTA league tennis get rid of nationals/regionals or crowning any type of champion. My nonUSTA leagues rarely if ever have any sandbagging or people self rating too low because there is no other reason to play and try to improve. At then end of the season the winning teams are kept intact and move up to the next level. People often try to play up a level to get better competition and are not scared of losing matches.

It is amazing how many USTA team captains will game the system to their advantage and deliberately have self raters that are far too low, or sanbaggers and then throw their hands up and say I didn't break any rules. They actually believe as long as the get away with things then their honor is intact.

Supernatural_Serve
12-04-2006, 04:52 AM
Cheating is a way of life. Increasingly, for more and more people, it is their way of life whether its in school, business, socially, politics, or on the tennis court.

Its all one glorified game of cheating, take before being taken (money), a byproduct of scarcity of opportunity (thanks for the job), and competitition (thanks for the steroids)

This is a values issue for each person to work out for themselves. But, whose teaching people values? The "baby boomer me generation" They are masters of the game and they teach their spawn well.

And if it doesn't bother you to cheat, then cheat. Do what's right for you.

So, its easy to see how most people become cheaters. Its a way of life all around us at every turn and none of them feel any shame. They have a ready made rationalized thesis for why they cheat.

I've never played a district or sectional match that wasn't filled with players playing below their true level, that's how their team went 10-0 to get there.

fuzz nation
12-04-2006, 07:51 AM
Gene Scott and Tennis Week were right on with their diagnosis: if the status quo doesn't get a kick in the butt, the USTA will become irrelevant. I've been not-too-impressed with the USTA since I got on a team for the first time a while back. Had to respect the rating process when it was done by trained eyes, but by recently leaving the ratings up to the players and the computers, the powers that be have pulled a big fat cop-out. They'd rather take membership fees from lots of cheaters than actually act like the governing body of the sport and kick a few bad apples out of the sandbox.

We can ***** and moan all we want--it may be more healthy than keeping it in--but I'm in the middle of drafting a letter to the USTA honchos about this grievance and about some shortcomings in the set-up at the US Open. I can't individually do much about cheaters in the league, but they can and ultimately they work for us. I encourage EVERYONE with positive or negative feedback to write a letter, send an e-mail, or write a protest anthem!

raiden031
12-04-2006, 10:14 AM
It is quite clear to me the ONLY way to end the cheating is to abolish Nationals when dividing skill levels by ARBITRARY lines. You can have nationals by age, but not by NTRP. You can have leagues only for people who have not played pro or college, to keep the elite players out. Thats about all you can do to prevent sandbaggers.

Even if you are not trying to be a sandbagger, the only way you will get on a team or get playing time is if you underrate your NTRP level. I really wanted to join a 3.5 team because I would be up against better players who I can learn more from, but only 3.0 captains responded to my ad so I had no choice. I am playing in the winter and spring, and I am pretty sure I will get disqualified in the Spring, especially if I keep up my practice routine.

I feel like I am cheating because I feel like I have no business playing 3.0, but its either that or play nothing.

fuzz nation
12-04-2006, 06:38 PM
Sorry for getting a little excited there, but it really burns me that the big organizing body of our beloved game allows such a counterproductive trend to keep on happening every season.

Hey raiden, depending on the amount of time you have, you might want to start your own team and just fill it with cool people. Match results aren't such a big deal in that kind of group when the team just enjoys getting together.

SATennis
12-04-2006, 07:16 PM
From the sounds of it, some major changes need to take place in the USTA league system, especially with regard to the NTRP. Everyone has talked a lot about cheaters, but when you leave it to the players to rate themselves, you are always going to get major differences in levels. Some people are modest, some over exagerate their abilities, and some have no idea what level they really are. Of course, there are those that purposefully cheat to win leagues, but with the current system, they can.

I get sick of having players come to my club telling me they are 4.0's and after I have set up a game for them with one of my member 4.0's I realize that the guy was a 3.0 if he was lucky. But he tells me that I am wrong in rating my member because his pro rated him as a 4.0. So even when the ratings are done by professionals, the results are scewed.

Does the USTA league system track every match you play, and adjust your NTRP rating according to the scores in your matches?

I have recently moved to kansas City so I have not had much involvement in it, but I have heard excellent things about the Kansas City league which is run using the Tencap rating system. After doing more research, this Tencap league has a completely different rating system to the NTRP. Ratings are adjusted using an algorithm based on games won against other rated opponents. It can convert to the NTRP rating system, but it has more precise levels, ranging from 0-80 (80 being a beginner). They have had a lot of success in Kansas City. I will look into it more, but this rating system may be able to avoid or reduce some of the sandbagging that is happening right now.

Has anyone ever heard of TENCAP?
Are players or teams in the current USTA leagues able to move up or down in their levels during a season?

Supernatural_Serve
12-05-2006, 04:17 AM
I get sick of having players come to my club telling me they are 4.0's and after I have set up a game for them with one of my member 4.0's I realize that the guy was a 3.0 if he was lucky. But he tells me that I am wrong in rating my member because his pro rated him as a 4.0. So even when the ratings are done by professionals, the results are scewed. Can't blame a pro earning a living for telling his paying customer what the customer wants to hear. Also, you can't blame the pro for telling a customer that after 6 to 12 months of lessons they haven't improved their rating (and many people don't improve in part because they don't listen to their instructors anyway, don't work on conditiong, and don't actually practice).

Who wants to lose a paying customer over something as irrelevant as an NTRP rating that for most people who don't play USTA leagues or tournaments is irrelevant anyway?

Cindysphinx
12-05-2006, 05:34 AM
Even if you are not trying to be a sandbagger, the only way you will get on a team or get playing time is if you underrate your NTRP level. I really wanted to join a 3.5 team because I would be up against better players who I can learn more from, but only 3.0 captains responded to my ad so I had no choice. I am playing in the winter and spring, and I am pretty sure I will get disqualified in the Spring, especially if I keep up my practice routine.

I feel like I am cheating because I feel like I have no business playing 3.0, but its either that or play nothing.

Raiden, the advice to start your own team is spot-on. Get a co-captain and just do it. You can play whatever level you want, and you needn't suffer the pressure from teammates who want to win very badly.

And you can run your team the way a team should be run. Whatever that is.

ohplease
12-05-2006, 05:40 AM
If you want to get cheating out of USTA league tennis get rid of nationals/regionals or crowning any type of champion. My nonUSTA leagues rarely if ever have any sandbagging or people self rating too low because there is no other reason to play and try to improve. At then end of the season the winning teams are kept intact and move up to the next level. People often try to play up a level to get better competition and are not scared of losing matches.

It is amazing how many USTA team captains will game the system to their advantage and deliberately have self raters that are far too low, or sanbaggers and then throw their hands up and say I didn't break any rules. They actually believe as long as the get away with things then their honor is intact.

Best post in the thread.

goober
12-05-2006, 10:47 AM
Raiden, the advice to start your own team is spot-on. Get a co-captain and just do it. You can play whatever level you want, and you needn't suffer the pressure from teammates who want to win very badly.

And you can run your team the way a team should be run. Whatever that is.

Sounds good in theory but it is not that easy to actually start a team. I tried it with another friend and we could not get enough people together. You would probably need at least 10-12 people to commit to a team since a lot of people have working and family obligations. Most people were either on a team, fed up with USTA league tennis or just weren't interested. If you have trouble meeting people for tennis how are you going to get 10-12 players at a particular NTRP level together?

You also have to find a club that will let you use them as a home court for matches. This actually was a harder than I thought it would be.

raiden031
12-05-2006, 11:12 AM
Sounds good in theory but it is not that easy to actually start a team. I tried it with another friend and we could not get enough people together. You would probably need at least 10-12 people to commit to a team since a lot of people have working and family obligations. Most people were either on a team, fed up with USTA league tennis or just weren't interested. If you have trouble meeting people for tennis how are you going to get 10-12 players at a particular NTRP level together?

You also have to find a club that will let you use them as a home court for matches. This actually was a harder than I thought it would be.

For a given USTA league match between teams, how many courts do you need and how much time needs to be allocated to the match?

CrocodileRock
12-05-2006, 11:19 AM
Sounds good in theory but it is not that easy to actually start a team. I tried it with another friend and we could not get enough people together. You would probably need at least 10-12 people to commit to a team since a lot of people have working and family obligations. Most people were either on a team, fed up with USTA league tennis or just weren't interested. If you have trouble meeting people for tennis how are you going to get 10-12 players at a particular NTRP level together?

You also have to find a club that will let you use them as a home court for matches. This actually was a harder than I thought it would be.

Yes, the first year is the hardest because of recruiting. You have to find enough players, make sure they are good enough without being too good, learn all the paperwork, etc. But if you do a good job, your players will stick around the second year, leaving only a few spots to fill instead of 10. Also, if you build your reputation as a good captain, other players will seek you out first, making it even easier.

And we played on school courts a few years in the 90s to save money. No court fees, no membership requirements, we just had to furnish the balls, but fortunately, never had to wait for a court

Supernatural_Serve
12-05-2006, 11:22 AM
For a given USTA league match between teams, how many courts do you need and how much time needs to be allocated to the match?
2 singles
3 doubles

8 total players.

Although for 2.5 and 5.0 you can play less individual matches and fewer players and its considered legitimate team match.

They recommend that all matches be the best of two tie-break sets with a match tie-break in lieu of a 3rd set.

I don't believe there is a time allocation. I would plan for 2 hours.

Cindysphinx
12-06-2006, 04:09 AM
For a given USTA league match between teams, how many courts do you need and how much time needs to be allocated to the match?

Raiden, I think we're both Mid-Atlantic?

If so, you need three courts in fall and winter, and five courts in the spring season. The league provides indoor courts for all matches. Your only challenge is finding indoor court time in bad weather for practices.

Yes, the first year of recruiting can be tough. Our league collects the names of all players looking for teams and circulates this to all captains. I have had to build a team from scratch twice. In both instances, I relied heavily on the list. Once you get one player, they often have a friend, and so on until you have enough.

If you have a teaching pro, they are often a great source of information. He or she may have students who would benefit from some match play or who is looking for a team. In that case, you find players who are serious enough about their play to be taking lessons, and you have the pro's say-so that they can swing a racquet.

cak
12-07-2006, 05:56 PM
Can this group brainstorm possible alternative determinations of league standings, something which would provide clear incentives to put forth maximum effort every time out? Another way of putting it is to come up with a scoring/standings determination methodology which provides a disincentive to put forth less than full effort.


New idea, have the ranges randomly chosen every year as the ratings come out. So this year the ranges in the ratings for 4.0 is 3.51 to 4.00, next year they might be 3.71- 4.20, the next year maybe 3.61-4.10. Everyone gets a chance to be on the low end of the range and the high end of the range, but sandbaggers wouldn't know what to shoot for. :-)

tennismike33
12-07-2006, 06:48 PM
Cheating, I am not sure that there has been a clear definition of cheating here. A missed line call here or there, calling a let late in a set when the server hits a lovely lefty serve to the corner of the box, can all of this be called cheating?

EVERYONE misses line calls, yes, even I have missed them, but when challenged I usually give the benefit of the doubt and award the point to the person. I did this in a match recently and mentioned to the person that I would appreciate the same courtesy if there is a disputed line call where I feel that the ball was in, he assurred me that he would do the same. Several questionable calls and several lets later I was walking off the court feeling I had played well enough to win, just didn't hook enough, but got hooked plenty.

As earlier stated cheating is everywhere in our world, the way to stop it is to hold yourself accountable only. If you make fair calls, you are the one who goes home at night feeling good about your play, who cares how the cheater feels.

cak
12-08-2006, 05:45 AM
EVERYONE misses line calls, yes, even I have missed them, but when challenged I usually give the benefit of the doubt and award the point to the person. I did this in a match recently and mentioned to the person that I would appreciate the same courtesy if there is a disputed line call where I feel that the ball was in, he assurred me that he would do the same. Several questionable calls and several lets later I was walking off the court feeling I had played well enough to win, just didn't hook enough, but got hooked plenty.


In a playoff game my partner and I were playing two very nice ladies. Unfortunately, in the first set, my partner and I had in our heads that a lot of their calls were bad. I was having a hard time believing they were doing it on purporse, but when I was too tempted to call out a ball that caught the line on my side, I decided we needed linesmen. I explained to the other team it wasn't that I didn't trust their line calls, it was I was so nervous that I didn't trust my line calls. Lo and behold, the score went from 1-4 to 7-5, 6-2 in our favor. I don't know if the line judges calmed me down, (though I didn't know either of them...) or what. My teammates said the other ladies were calling bad lines, but I still doubt they were doing it on purpose.

flash9
12-08-2006, 07:09 AM
... were calling bad lines, but I still doubt they were doing it on purpose.

I am 42 year old male playing 4.0 USTA league tennis. I can not tell you how many times (I would guess 3-4 per match) that I make incorrect calls, only to have the benefit of looking at the mark made in the clay. This provides me with the ability to go back and correct my call. Let me make this clear, if I call a ball out, and then go back and see it really caught the line, I correct my call and give them the point. If on the other hand, I call a ball good, only to see the ball actually was just out, I will typically point it out and give the other team the option to let me make the correct call, if they even hint they thought it was in, then I just let it go, and stick with my initial call, and give them the point.
NOTE: This is one major reason I dislike to play on hard courts.
In four years of USTA League matches, I can only remember one time seeing a player out and out cheat on his calls. It was so bad that his own team walked away in disgust. He claimed he could not see to well, but he played with a smaller headed racquet, and refused to even have one of his own teammates be an on court official! The next season when we played this club, I asked if he was playing, and was told he only lost one match the previous season, but the team choose not to ask him back because of all the grief they were getting from other teams based on this one player!
So in closing, I agree that there are many more honest players that sometimes make bad calls, then dishonest players intentionally making bad calls.
Closing Question everyone should ask themselves: If you are not having Fun, Why are you Playing in the First Place!

Grimjack
12-08-2006, 08:06 AM
"Cheating" is the derogatory term losers heap upon winners to make themselves feel better. "At least I play fair," is nothing but a consolation for being incapable of playing the game in a winning fashion.

What is "playing the game in a winning fashion?" Whatever it takes to win, that nonetheless leaves you immune to any consequences. Sandbag if you want. Take steroids. Squeeze on the line calls. Have your woman sit behind you where your opponent can see in a short skirt with nothing underneath.

If you want to win, then win. Don't make excuses just because others are willing to go further than you to get it done. If it's really that important to you, then get on board. If it's not important enough for you to do what you need to get the job done, then stop complaining.

Nobody likes a loser. Nobody likes a complainer, either.

tennis-n-sc
12-08-2006, 08:53 AM
"Cheating" is the derogatory term losers heap upon winners to make themselves feel better. "At least I play fair," is nothing but a consolation for being incapable of playing the game in a winning fashion.

What is "playing the game in a winning fashion?" Whatever it takes to win, that nonetheless leaves you immune to any consequences. Sandbag if you want. Take steroids. Squeeze on the line calls. Have your woman sit behind you where your opponent can see in a short skirt with nothing underneath.

If you want to win, then win. Don't make excuses just because others are willing to go further than you to get it done. If it's really that important to you, then get on board. If it's not important enough for you to do what you need to get the job done, then stop complaining.

Nobody likes a loser. Nobody likes a complainer, either.

And no body likes a cheater that knows no low he won't venture to in order to win. Scum of the earth.

sureshs
12-08-2006, 08:57 AM
[QUOTE=Grimjack;1107208Take steroids. Squeeze on the line calls. Have your woman sit behind you where your opponent can see in a short skirt with nothing underneath.
[/QUOTE]

You realize that if you take steroids, there will be nothing much you can do with "your woman"?

retrowagen
12-10-2006, 09:52 AM
I'm returning to competitive tennis after a 10-year hiatus, right now kind of building steam and doing homework and getting fit to hit it again next season. It's interesting, reading these related threads about the USTA Nats scandal. I live (and will play) in the NorCal area, but (thankfully) due to my old rankings and the USTA guidelines which apply to me thus, I'll start off as a 4.5 (whether or not I play like a 2.5 or a 4.5; just doesn't matter, and that's how it should be), so I don't have to worry about the cadre of fake 4.0's! :)

My $0.02 on the subect:

1.) IT'S JUST A GAME. Really now!--How often do we forget about this? I think I can make a fairly accurate guess that nobody on that 4.0 roster is putting bread on the table by winning that tourney, so the only *real* prize of winning that is the boasting rights, eh? In the end, the results go into the fog awfully fast: quick, who was the 1986 National 4.5 Men's Singles champ? Bzzzzt--too late! Somehow our media, and/or the American pop culture has placed way WAY too much importance on the gravity of Sport, to the degree that winning--at any cost--is the only thing that matters. What ever happened to playing for the fun of it? How about playing for the sheer joy of it? Times spent on court in my younger years were the funnest of my life, win, or lose. And I learned so much more from losing. Big stuff. Important stuff. Life stuff.
2.) DISHONORABLE WINNING IS THE HALLMARK OF TOTAL LOSERS. Anyone who lies about his ranking to "sandbag" a tourney draw is, plain and simple, a bully. It's like taking candy from a baby, or shooting fish in a barrel. There's no honor in that, and the wins are empty and meaningless. It's far better, if you've the skills and experience of a 4.5, to play a season with the 5.0's. Chalk it up to experience! The more one plays against better players, the better (s)he becomes! Then, before you know it, you're hanging with the 5.0's and can start looking for 5.5's!!

To my younger tennis buds (I'm 36 now): Train hard. Work hard. Set rational goals for yourself. Everyone wants to grow up to be a pro, but maybe one out of every 100,000 players makes that cut, so keep the perspective right. Win honestly and honorably, lose gracefully and with an eye for learning, and enjoy a sport with a rich history and tradition!

To my tennis elders: Your youngers are watching what you do. Keep them honest; keep the standards high but keep the pressure off. Seeing one of you cheat makes an instant excuse for your son or daughter to do the same.

Sorry for the soapbox action today. Hope to see some of you next season!

10sguy
12-24-2006, 10:48 AM
(see below my original message which started this thread . . . a thread which SOMEhow quickly got off subject.) OK, after some thought and face-to-face discussions with others, I'm back with a serious proposal to combat cheating in the form of (all the elements of) sandbagging - the objective being to create the relatively level playing field MOST players should enjoy. My strong feeling is that MANY league players (or potential league players) are being turned off by the perception of ratings "game-playing" being necessary to "win" (however "winning" is described in contemporary society!). Here's the only slightly modified version of what was posted on another thread LATE last night:
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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 hierarchy 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 requirement that players MUST HAVE played in a somewhat higher minimum (than current rules require) of their team's matches, to be eligible to participate in 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!
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It's believed by some that a perception exists (yes, this of course is putting it mildly) that, in order to win in league tennis, some form of cheating is usually necessary. The cheating can be anything from a simple mistake by an uninformed newcomer on self-rating, to outright fudging on self-rating (including lying or being less than completely honest regarding playing history), to sandbagging (playing at less than full effort or capability - including intentionally losing games, sets, even matches) in an effort to keep one's rating at a level where they can win, to blatant cheating (bad lines calls, etc.) in matches. There is a growing feeling that this perception (if it exists) results in (1) Difficulty in recruiting new league players . . . (2) Difficulty in retaining league players, and . . . (3) Difficulty in recovering lapsed (former) league players. These are known in USTA circles as the "three R's" of league tennis; In order to maintain and grow, we must RECRUIT new players, RETAIN existing players, and RECOVER lapsed (former) players.

The traditional tennis scoring system used for league tennis (match results generate player ratings) leaves plenty of wiggle room (for those so disposed) to manipulate their scores in order to achieve a desired result (the rating they want) so they can continue to "win."

Can this group brainstorm possible alternative determinations of league standings, something which would provide clear incentives to put forth maximum effort every time out? Another way of putting it is to come up with a scoring/standings determination methodology which provides a disincentive to put forth less than full effort.

Those are just the frameworks of ideas which some have been tossing about; Please don't be restricted by what's in the above paragraph.

We supposedly pride ourselves in being part of a sport which oozes sportsmanship, but that aspect seems all too often to be lacking among some in league tennis. Having league tennis organized by playing levels (NTRP) is SUPPOSED to result in competitive matches, however the desired "level playing field" is lost when the system is manipulated for selfish personal/team reasons.

Please get rolling on this; Remember, no idea is "wrong" during a brainstorming session. Just throw it out there . . . you never know what might give birth to someone else's truly creative thought.

Sagittar
12-24-2006, 10:52 AM
maybe you can cheat to win but would you still look at yourself the same ?!

thinktowin
01-02-2007, 05:11 PM
It sounds like many of you have had some negative experiences with league play and I'm sorry for that.

I'm wondering how many of you that think there are out of level players in your local leagues have ever been to the national tournament in your division. The ratings are based on benchmarks set at nationals........in most cases a 4.0 player at the national tournament is a lot better than most 4.0s locally. Does that mean that the national benchmark-type player is out of level if they dominate everyone locally? Perspective is huge and very important when trying to access someone's level.

I took a 4.0 team to nationals in 2002. We easily won our local league and everyone complained. Four local greviences were filed......none upheld. We were in turn dominated at nationals by a much better So Cal team.

With that perspective in hand, we won nationals in 4.0 men in 2004. Again, we were vilified locally.......greviences filed, non upheld..no one disqualified. We won because we had 18 great players. No one had to play more than once a day and we weren't tired on Sunday.

I think part of the problem lies in the fact that teams like ours start out with goals to win sectionals and then nationals. Other teams start out with the goal of having some fun on Thursdays and drinking beer after the match. Both are completely valid but mismatches occur locally.

cak
01-02-2007, 05:28 PM
So, you went to Nationals twice. At the same level. I think this is the problem. And you are not alone. In our section there are approximately two teams at each level that take turns going to Nationals. So what did you do in 2003? Did your team play 4.0s? Or did you play 4.5s and lose so you could play 4.0 and win Nationals the next time? That's what our teams do. That and appealing back down. The vast majority of players in USTA don't have a chance at going to Nationals, despite lofty goals.

If USTA is looking to have the best amateur players play at a National level, drop the NTRP stuff and go with age groups. If they want a cross section of players at all levels to get the chance to go to Nationals then they need to rework the system. For starters I'd say if you made it to Nationals once you cannot go back again at that level, ever. Give someone else a chance. There are plenty of dedicated players that you would still have good teams and great tennis at Nationals every year.

As for what happens with the people who make it to Nationals. They all get bumped up. Anyone who played at least one match in playoffs, whether they be local, district, sectional or Nationals. So almost everyone, including all 18 players on your team, will be playing 4.5 next year. And I'd have it stick, unappealable, for at least two years. If you are good enough to be playing at Nationals, you really need to be bumped.

thinktowin
01-02-2007, 05:36 PM
The first time we went we got hammered. Only one guy got bumped up. Several of my guys played on other teams in 2003 and we re-grouped in 2004 with the benefit of some hindsight. We had to have more depth and enough players to not get worn out by playing twice a day.

We won in 2004 and everyone got bumped up to 4.5. We took our lumps in 2005 but everyone worked hard to get better. This past year we made it to the semi-finals before losing at sectionals.

We're going to try and win it all in 2007 by working harder than everyone else.

The Gorilla
01-02-2007, 06:18 PM
Do Players Have to Cheat to Win?





I know I do lol ;)

goober
01-02-2007, 06:25 PM
It sounds like many of you have had some negative experiences with league play and I'm sorry for that.

I'm wondering how many of you that think there are out of level players in your local leagues have ever been to the national tournament in your division. The ratings are based on benchmarks set at nationals........in most cases a 4.0 player at the national tournament is a lot better than most 4.0s locally. Does that mean that the national benchmark-type player is out of level if they dominate everyone locally? Perspective is huge and very important when trying to access someone's level.


I have never been to Nationals, but I have played with mulitple Benchmark 4.0 and 3.5 players so I have a pretty good idea of the level of play. The 4.0 benchmark players all play 4.5 locally in USTA tourneys. The 4.0 benchmark players I have played with did not even play one tourney all of last year at the 4.0 level either USTA or nonUSTA events. One of them even won several age group 40 tournaments. Nothing new here. Self rating is bigger problem, but that has been discussed to death.

One of the local tennis magazines had an article several years ago about a team that the author he took to 4.5 nationals previously. He openly admitted to stacking his team with people who self rated way too low. Mulitple greivances were filed at the time, but none held up. He justified it by saying that is what everybody else does and besides he didn't even win it- but he came very close. His whole team got bumped up to 5.0 and they disbanded since they were just a bunch of guys brought in to win Nationals.

Ronaldo
01-02-2007, 07:36 PM
So, you went to Nationals twice. At the same level. I think this is the problem. And you are not alone. In our section there are approximately two teams at each level that take turns going to Nationals. So what did you do in 2003? Did your team play 4.0s? Or did you play 4.5s and lose so you could play 4.0 and win Nationals the next time? That's what our teams do. That and appealing back down. The vast majority of players in USTA don't have a chance at going to Nationals, despite lofty goals.

If USTA is looking to have the best amateur players play at a National level, drop the NTRP stuff and go with age groups. If they want a cross section of players at all levels to get the chance to go to Nationals then they need to rework the system. For starters I'd say if you made it to Nationals once you cannot go back again at that level, ever. Give someone else a chance. There are plenty of dedicated players that you would still have good teams and great tennis at Nationals every year.

As for what happens with the people who make it to Nationals. They all get bumped up. Anyone who played at least one match in playoffs, whether they be local, district, sectional or Nationals. So almost everyone, including all 18 players on your team, will be playing 4.5 next year. And I'd have it stick, unappealable, for at least two years. If you are good enough to be playing at Nationals, you really need to be bumped.

Made it to Nat'ls, never lost a match in the playoffs, from District thru Nat'ls, 12-0 and was not bumped up.

cak
01-03-2007, 10:39 AM
Made it to Nat'ls, never lost a match in the playoffs, from District thru Nat'ls, 12-0 and was not bumped up.

You are right. I'm saying they SHOULD get bumped up. Not that they do. In my opinion, that is a big problem with the system.

Geezer Guy
01-03-2007, 11:32 AM
New idea, have the ranges randomly chosen every year as the ratings come out. So this year the ranges in the ratings for 4.0 is 3.51 to 4.00, next year they might be 3.71- 4.20, the next year maybe 3.61-4.10. Everyone gets a chance to be on the low end of the range and the high end of the range, but sandbaggers wouldn't know what to shoot for. :-)

I like this idea. I think it might be kinda hard to come up with new teams each year (currently the same teams can pretty much stay together year after year) but it would be worth the effort to give it a try. However, it wouldn't stop a skilled sandbagger from managing their matches so that they just "barely" win every week.

rasajadad
01-03-2007, 11:55 AM
Although you've mostly been referring to leagues, the same sandbaggers cheat in the individual tournaments as well. This is why I switched from 4.5's to the 50's. I was also tired of playing two singles matches against 20 year olds a day for two days in a row. The competition in the age groups seem tougher, but I'm much happier playing against them.

fuzzyvolley
01-23-2007, 01:55 PM
Long time reader, first time poster...... few points i would like/love to contribute:

#1-- Gotta love the NTRP dicussions here!! Everyone seems to be of the impression that if you are a 4.0 and somebody beats you then the person that beat you cannot POSSIBLY be a 4.0. This is not the intent of a levels based system. Even within a level there will be a broad distribution of skills, there is no perfect system by which every skill level is perfectly differentiated. However, the NTRP system does a pretty good job of competitive partitioning.

#2- Do captains have to cheat to win? The short answer is a qualified no, somebody has to win so if nobody cheats then somebody still wins! It is also possible, in line with point #1 above that a captain can identify players that are within the upper end of the acceptable range of skills within a level and compile a championship team out of same. However, this is not how captains win. The winning captains manipulate the system by either self rating abuse or score manipulation or other things that have not even been mentioned yet. These manipulations, although within the albeit lax regulations of the USTA are in fact contrary to the intent and purpose of recreational tennis (by the way, NTRP tennis is purely recreational, championships mean nothing). The abuses documented in this thread from recent years championships are basically the equivalent of your neighborhood rival hookng you at break point to win your "friendly" weekend match.

The long answer is tooo long..... :)

#3- Nobody is getting rich or famous winning NTRP championships. If captains choose to cheat to win then there is nothing preventing them. Get over it, enjoy your tennis on the court and recognize the fact that league records indicate that the captains pulling this stuff are not able to personally contribute a win at any level to their championship teams, so if cheating is what makes them feel whole (hole?) as a tennis competitor the so be it.

#4-- I have played at a half dozen sectional championships, a couple of nationals, many tournaments (both NTRP and age based) and multiple non-USTA leagues. I have found that the greatest satisfaction comes from having done my best, having played within the code of integrity that should be inherent in any recreational effort, and not letting the unsportsmanlike shortcomings of others interfere with my enjoyment.

give it a try

thanks

tennis-n-sc
01-23-2007, 04:27 PM
Long time reader, first time poster...... few points i would like/love to contribute:

#1-- Gotta love the NTRP dicussions here!! Everyone seems to be of the impression that if you are a 4.0 and somebody beats you then the person that beat you cannot POSSIBLY be a 4.0. This is not the intent of a levels based system. Even within a level there will be a broad distribution of skills, there is no perfect system by which every skill level is perfectly differentiated. However, the NTRP system does a pretty good job of competitive partitioning.

#2- Do captains have to cheat to win? The short answer is a qualified no, somebody has to win so if nobody cheats then somebody still wins! It is also possible, in line with point #1 above that a captain can identify players that are within the upper end of the acceptable range of skills within a level and compile a championship team out of same. However, this is not how captains win. The winning captains manipulate the system by either self rating abuse or score manipulation or other things that have not even been mentioned yet. These manipulations, although within the albeit lax regulations of the USTA are in fact contrary to the intent and purpose of recreational tennis (by the way, NTRP tennis is purely recreational, championships mean nothing). The abuses documented in this thread from recent years championships are basically the equivalent of your neighborhood rival hookng you at break point to win your "friendly" weekend match.

The long answer is tooo long..... :)

#3- Nobody is getting rich or famous winning NTRP championships. If captains choose to cheat to win then there is nothing preventing them. Get over it, enjoy your tennis on the court and recognize the fact that league records indicate that the captains pulling this stuff are not able to personally contribute a win at any level to their championship teams, so if cheating is what makes them feel whole (hole?) as a tennis competitor the so be it.

#4-- I have played at a half dozen sectional championships, a couple of nationals, many tournaments (both NTRP and age based) and multiple non-USTA leagues. I have found that the greatest satisfaction comes from having done my best, having played within the code of integrity that should be inherent in any recreational effort, and not letting the unsportsmanlike shortcomings of others interfere with my enjoyment.

give it a try

thanks

Nice post for the first. Welcome.

maverick66
01-23-2007, 06:13 PM
i hate the i loss because someone cheated excuse. its rediculous how many times i hear this. nobody can cheat u enough to that you would be completely out of a match. i have played since i was 5 and dealt with alot of cheaters and never felt i loss due to cheating. i played one person who was cheating and on the next point he hit a return down the middle i caught the ball and called it out. then went and got ref. u have to be mentallity strong enough to brush offf cheating or do something about it.

goober
01-23-2007, 08:56 PM
Although you've mostly been referring to leagues, the same sandbaggers cheat in the individual tournaments as well. This is why I switched from 4.5's to the 50's. I was also tired of playing two singles matches against 20 year olds a day for two days in a row. The competition in the age groups seem tougher, but I'm much happier playing against them.


Hmm what you say doesn't make sense. You first say there there are a lot of Sandbaggers in 4.5 tourneys but then you say the competition in the 50s age group tournaments is tougher?

Sakkijarvi
01-24-2007, 06:24 AM
When you get the chance, try and drill a sandbagger with the ball. Same with a cheater. It's not really hard, aim a nice serve that never touches the ground right at their midsection...they'll get the message...

AlpineCadet
01-24-2007, 12:11 PM
And what message is that? That you're sinking lower than how they are? Attacking someone with a ball is the lowest form of getting someone back, and I wouldn't want to be you in the aftermath. Be a good sport and play your best game if you have no choice, but refrain from attacking someone! Geeze, are we in the 5th grade?

sureshs
01-24-2007, 01:16 PM
The abuses documented in this thread from recent years championships are basically the equivalent of your neighborhood rival hookng you at break point to win your "friendly" weekend match.



Not really. The big difference is players are paying money to play in these leagues. They obviously care if they are cheated. The moment money exchanges hands, it ceases to be informal and a different set of rules apply. Whoever takes the money has the responsibility to conduct the tournament according to rules and ethics.

Slap Master
01-24-2007, 05:38 PM
i hate the i loss because someone cheated excuse. its rediculous how many times i hear this. nobody can cheat u enough to that you would be completely out of a match. i have played since i was 5 and dealt with alot of cheaters and never felt i loss due to cheating. i played one person who was cheating and on the next point he hit a return down the middle i caught the ball and called it out. then went and got ref. u have to be mentallity strong enough to brush offf cheating or do something about it.

I agree that few matches are ULTIMATELY decided by cheating. However there is at least one (probably lots more) EXCEPTION to this rule. Namely, when the cheaters are especially talented ones!!! ;)

By this I mean there do exist cheaters who are capable of recognizing the 'big points'-the ones that typically DO decide matches and specifically 'hooking' or cheating on those points in particular.

The bottom line is that it would seem cheating (in many forms) is rampant in tennis. Too bad, because it prevents players from ever reaching (or truly knowing if they have reached) their true potential.

SM

migjam
01-24-2007, 07:16 PM
I can't stand the cheating in the adult leagues or tournaments. I am really tired of the general rule When in Doubt, Call it Out.
Where is the honesty anymore?
It's true that matches generally are determined by the cheating calls, but what happens is those calls most of the time, can rattle the other player and throw them off their game causing them to not focus on the game at hand.

tennismike33
01-24-2007, 07:59 PM
I can't stand the cheating in the adult leagues or tournaments. I am really tired of the general rule When in Doubt, Call it Out.
Where is the honesty anymore?
It's true that matches generally are determined by the cheating calls, but what happens is those calls most of the time, can rattle the other player and throw them off their game causing them to not focus on the game at hand.

LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How did I know you would post a response here. Dude, you are the man, you will bounce back and be stronger the next time you play. I will help you practice this by calling more balls out in the morning. I just want to help you get ready!!!!

Ronaldo
01-24-2007, 08:12 PM
migjam, you wanna know how you do it? Here's how, they call it out, you call 2 out. They hit your partner, you send one of them to the morgue. That's the USTA Adult league way. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that?

tennismike33
01-24-2007, 08:29 PM
migjam, you wanna know how you do it? Here's how, they call it out, you call 2 out. They hit your partner, you send one of them to the morgue. That's the USTA Adult league way. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that?

MIJGAM is one of the most honest. hardworking people you would ever meet. An out call to him is when the ball is 3" out, he hates getting hooked by people who can't beat him honestly. Maybe the guy he lost to today is a good player, but there is no excuse for hooking people to get ahead or even win a tennis match is not worth it to me.

As far as hitting your partner, dude get over that, it actually is YOUR partner's fault most times, send him to the morgue, LOL.

max8176
01-24-2007, 10:32 PM
The real fact are cheating is everywhere; even in the Pros level. Didnt Sharapova's dad was caught coaching at her previous match and she was given a warning?

Ronaldo
01-25-2007, 04:12 AM
The real fact are cheating is everywhere; even in the Pros level. Didnt Sharapova's dad was caught coaching at her previous match and she was given a warning?

Curious why an official cannot have the cheat publically removed from the stadium? Grreat theatre. As far as cheating goes, 1st yr in league play 20 yrs ago my partner touch the net following through on a short volley. I called it against him/us. We lost the match and ended the partnership. Subject came up last yr when playing each other.

migjam
01-25-2007, 04:17 AM
migjam, you wanna know how you do it? Here's how, they call it out, you call 2 out. They hit your partner, you send one of them to the morgue. That's the USTA Adult league way. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that?

Nah, thats not my style. I play to win, but cheating isn't a part of that for me. Would you feel good winning that way? I wouldn't. We are playing Adult tennis, not Junior.

Sakkijarvi
01-25-2007, 07:12 AM
Last night's doubles...and we played against a guy that called at least four balls out that were clearly in. My partner and I just turned a looked at each other...my partner (who has more experience with the guy than I do) says, "he always does that...I don't think he means it..."

Firing a couple of serves into the body...whacking a shot down the line while said guy is dozing at the net...that all legit in my book. I play and coach a much tougher sport than tennis, so this beiing 'off limits' is a joke as far as I'm concerned. I'm not talking about drilling a guy with a sitter at the net. Just exert some power to remind the opponent you've got his number.

Sakki

Ronaldo
01-25-2007, 10:17 AM
Nah, thats not my style. I play to win, but cheating isn't a part of that for me. Would you feel good winning that way? I wouldn't. We are playing Adult tennis, not Junior.

Play dubs with guys who pull a Mr. Magoo everyday on line calls, its not cheating its their life. Always in their favor.

migjam
01-25-2007, 11:20 AM
Play dubs with guys who pull a Mr. Magoo everyday on line calls, its not cheating its their life. Always in their favor.

Yeah, and do you ever notice that the call goes their way on a crucial point?

Ronaldo
01-25-2007, 02:29 PM
Notice, it is laughable. Guy claims he does not understand why everyone questions his calls. And we play on clay. And he still calls them out.

tennismike33
01-25-2007, 03:37 PM
Notice, it is laughable. Guy claims he does not understand why everyone questions his calls. And we play on clay. And he still calls them out.


As a lifelong graduate of smart a** univesity I NEVER question the person making the calls playing doubles, I usually say to the partner, "Dude, how can you play with this guy, he can't see clearly. He must get you into a lot of arguments over calls, becasue his view of the line is blocked a lot. The calls he is making reflect very poorly on your team."

migjam
01-25-2007, 05:08 PM
Notice, it is laughable. Guy claims he does not understand why everyone questions his calls. And we play on clay. And he still calls them out.

Well see there you have an issue, you can request them to show you the mark. On hard courts, unless the court is dirty, it is pretty hard to see a mark.

Ronaldo
01-25-2007, 05:32 PM
mike, I question/correct the guy's calls, we not only play league matches but casually, switching partners with each set. Some members refuse to play in the same group with him.

Ronaldo
01-25-2007, 05:34 PM
Well see there you have an issue, you can request them to show you the mark. On hard courts, unless the court is dirty, it is pretty hard to see a mark.

Which mark, his or yours? Cannot even agree on the mark on clay

migjam
01-25-2007, 06:37 PM
Which mark, his or yours? Cannot even agree on the mark on clay

Either. Thats the beauty of clay. Question the call by asking to see the mark. I don't know how many calls I've gotten reversed when my opponent can't find the mark or see's the white mark on the line.

Ronaldo
01-25-2007, 07:13 PM
Meant agree on the mark when we are partners. Call against your partner, he's ****ed the rest of the day.

amarone
01-25-2007, 07:22 PM
Either. Thats the beauty of clay. Question the call by asking to see the mark. I don't know how many calls I've gotten reversed when my opponent can't find the mark or see's the white mark on the line.
I don't see why you should get a call reversed when the opponent cannot find the mark. As long as he was sure it was out, there is no onus on him/her to find a mark. Only if he finds the mark and it shows that it was in does he have to reverse the call.

migjam
01-25-2007, 10:13 PM
I don't see why you should get a call reversed when the opponent cannot find the mark. As long as he was sure it was out, there is no onus on him/her to find a mark. Only if he finds the mark and it shows that it was in does he have to reverse the call.

Well there should be a mark. But, I guess if he can't find it, the old rule of When in doubt, Call it out would be in effect huh?

Ronaldo
01-26-2007, 01:44 AM
If there is no mark, assume the ball was on the line. Guy served, we see no mark and give him the point. His partner falls, laughing. He had shanked the serve over a tree, out of our line of sight.

migjam
01-26-2007, 04:53 AM
If there is no mark, assume the ball was on the line. Guy served, we see no mark and give him the point. His partner falls, laughing. He had shanked the serve over a tree, out of our line of sight.

However on clay, a mark is usually left on the line as well. Also, if a ball does hit the line, it will usually skip.

Ronaldo
01-26-2007, 05:24 AM
Totally agree, but you are honest. Btw, we were playing on hardcourts at nite when this guy serves one over a tree.

Sakkijarvi
01-26-2007, 08:11 AM
The doubles guy I mentioned was a sub. Our group is good, we've had four guys standing over a mark, usually an aced serve, marveling at how it shows the serve just touched the tape, 'hey, take a look at this' kind of thing.

We want to get the call right and let ourselves enjoy 'the game' playing itself out. The occasional serve or shot on the tape that leaves no mark is in.

You get some dingdong in there that starts screwing with the calls and it's a different thing altogether. The guys I play doubles with are an established group and I 'do like in Rome' with them...they're super-polite so I don't question calls. In my singles, I'll question a bad call without hesitation unless I'm killing the guy.

Sakki

Ronaldo
01-26-2007, 11:12 AM
When in doubt.....................call it out reigns supreme in these parts.

migjam
01-26-2007, 03:45 PM
I'm sorry, I just can't play that way. I'd rather let my game speak for itself and win that way.