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View Full Version : Why do you play USTA League tennis?


oldguysrule
04-06-2007, 10:08 AM
I realize that there are many underlying reasons for playing in USTA leagues. I am curious though as to the main reason that you joined a team and continue playing in USTA leagues. Feel free to share your reason if it is not covered by the above options.

maverick1
04-06-2007, 10:43 AM
Pre-arranged competition and an objective rating system that tells me how much progress I am making.

USTA League Tennis The most serious competition there is for adults below the 5.0 level, far tougher than tournaments of equivalent NTRP rating. Your inclusion of the choice "practice for tournaments" suggests that you (like many others here) think of tournaments as a more rigorous form of competition. I think that is misinformation perpetuated by players who probably play only tournaments or probably assume that the relationship between tournaments and leagues is something like that between ATP tournaments and the Davis cup. In any case I don't think any of them has played a season of USTA leagues.

There is a lot more pressure in leagues than in tournaments because your results affects the whole team, and also because it is a season long thing with playoffs that culminate in a National championship. League captains' primary job seems to be to scour their area's tennis facilities to spot good players who never played USTA, register them and get them to self-rate a level below where they should be.

I play league and tournaments in New Jersy/Middlestates. The two guys who play singles in a League Tie are typically the best players in their team, out of a 12 to 20 team members. A winning percentage of .500 in a 4.0 league is far tougher than .500 in a 4.0 tournament. To do the former, you pretty much have to be a sandbagger. To go .500 in tournaments, you just need to beat the 3.0s and low 3.5s, plenty of whom particpate in 4.0 tournaments. I know two 3.0s ranked in the top 30 4.0 tournament players in the Middlestates. The best players in the leagues don't even bother with tournaments, unless they play up.

CrocodileRock
04-06-2007, 10:44 AM
to climb that mountain... all other goals can be met outside of leagues

raiden031
04-06-2007, 10:47 AM
It has the best system available for measuring my progress, the NTRP computer rating system, and it is more available and cheaper than tournaments.

CrocodileRock
04-06-2007, 10:55 AM
USTA League Tennis The most serious competition there is for adults below the 5.0 level, far tougher than tournaments of equivalent NTRP rating. Your inclusion of the choice "practice for tournaments" suggests that you (like many others here) think of tournaments as a more rigorous form of competition. I think that is misinformation perpetuated by players who probably play only tournaments or probably assume that the relationship between tournaments and leagues is something like that between ATP tournaments and the Davis cup. In any case I don't think any of them has played a season of USTA leagues.

There is a lot more pressure in leagues than in tournaments because your results affects the whole team, and also because it is a season long thing with playoffs that culminate in a National championship.
The best players in the leagues don't even bother with tournaments, unless they play up.

Maverick, you get it, you really do. When I first started competitive tennis, I thought the leagues would be for weeknight warriors, and tournaments would be for the serious players, who were willing to take off from work, drive all over the state, spend money on hotels and food, etc. I was completely wrong, and didn't know why, but you nailed it. About three years ago, I was ranked third in the section in singles, after a short time at #1. Thinking that was pretty cool, I went to sectionals, and wasn't even #3 in my flight, much less the whole tournament. The other day I saw a post from someone who boasted about a top rank in his section, only to get wiped out at the team championships. Tournament success is no guarantee of league success.

SlapShot
04-06-2007, 11:48 AM
It has the best system available for measuring my progress, the NTRP computer rating system, and it is more available and cheaper than tournaments.

+1

And I feel that the opportunity to improve comes more from playing weekly than it does playing a bunch of matches in a weekend.

cmartin
04-06-2007, 02:01 PM
Practice for tournaments. And the groupies, of course.

BreakPoint
04-06-2007, 02:06 PM
Oldguy,

Too bad you didn't allow for multiple choices as I'm sure many of us have more than one reason for playing in USTA leagues. I, for one, enjoy both the team aspect of leagues as well as having pre-arranged competitive matches for myself.

Also, believe it or not, in addition to the last option on your list, there are actually guys that play to rack up losses to lower their NTRP ratings. :-o

Topaz
04-06-2007, 03:41 PM
I enjoy it. I enjoy the competition, I enjoy having a goal and something to strive for. I *really* enjoy the game...more than I ever did in high school, and I'm actually a bit suprised that I haven't tired of it since I picked it back up a few years ago. There's just something so gratifying about hitting that little yellow ball, about strategizing and setting up a point, about finally seeing something that you've been working on come together. It is a great, great game.

And...I love the people (well, most of them!) that I've met since starting leagues and playing in drill classes and the such. I've made some really great, wonderful friends!

jamauss
04-06-2007, 03:54 PM
Oldguy,

Too bad you didn't allow for multiple choices as I'm sure many of us have more than one reason for playing in USTA leagues.


Exactly...I'd say at least 3 or 4 on that list are reasons why I play.

cak
04-06-2007, 04:50 PM
I play both just to be on the team, and hang with my team mates, and to go for team wins and make playoffs.

As for the practice or pre-arranged competitive games, I get 3 to 5 competitive matches every week, not counting USTA. I really don't need USTA for that. For individual improvement, I also have 2 or 3 clinics and a private lesson once a week. So I really don't need USTA for that either. My favorite reason is the "rack up wins to boost my NTRP". Without league tennis, I don't even need an NTRP. I only play USTA to win for a team, and party with the team.

goober
04-06-2007, 08:09 PM
Pre-arranged competition and an objective rating system that tells me how much progress I am making.

USTA League Tennis The most serious competition there is for adults below the 5.0 level, far tougher than tournaments of equivalent NTRP rating. Your inclusion of the choice "practice for tournaments" suggests that you (like many others here) think of tournaments as a more rigorous form of competition. I think that is misinformation perpetuated by players who probably play only tournaments or probably assume that the relationship between tournaments and leagues is something like that between ATP tournaments and the Davis cup. In any case I don't think any of them has played a season of USTA leagues.

There is a lot more pressure in leagues than in tournaments because your results affects the whole team, and also because it is a season long thing with playoffs that culminate in a National championship. League captains' primary job seems to be to scour their area's tennis facilities to spot good players who never played USTA, register them and get them to self-rate a level below where they should be.

I play league and tournaments in New Jersy/Middlestates. The two guys who play singles in a League Tie are typically the best players in their team, out of a 12 to 20 team members. A winning percentage of .500 in a 4.0 league is far tougher than .500 in a 4.0 tournament. To do the former, you pretty much have to be a sandbagger. To go .500 in tournaments, you just need to beat the 3.0s and low 3.5s, plenty of whom particpate in 4.0 tournaments. I know two 3.0s ranked in the top 30 4.0 tournament players in the Middlestates. The best players in the leagues don't even bother with tournaments, unless they play up.

Leagues are tougher competition. But they are tougher because people are more willing to sandbag and have self rated players that rate too below their level. It is completely artificial raised level of competition.

At the higher levels (5.0 and above) I think tournaments are considered the toughest competition.

oldguysrule
04-06-2007, 08:41 PM
Oldguy,

Too bad you didn't allow for multiple choices as I'm sure many of us have more than one reason for playing in USTA leagues. I, for one, enjoy both the team aspect of leagues as well as having pre-arranged competitive matches for myself.

Also, believe it or not, in addition to the last option on your list, there are actually guys that play to rack up losses to lower their NTRP ratings. :-o

I thought about multiple choice...but I was curious as to the #1 reason.

SB
04-06-2007, 09:25 PM
Leagues are tougher competition. But they are tougher because people are more willing to sandbag and have self rated players that rate too below their level. It is completely artificial raised level of competition.

At the higher levels (5.0 and above) I think tournaments are considered the toughest competition.

Leagues are tougher because more people are willing to play them, with a weekly prearranged time, than they are to devote a week or weekend to the odd times and rain delays of tournaments.

Especially for women. I really enjoy tournaments, but I have a family, and it is really tough to play many tournaments when you have responsibilities that aren't easily changed. I can get a sitter for 6 pm every Tuesday night, but it's not so easy to do for the various times of a tournament. The last singles tournament I played was great ... I won, yay. But my husband was out of town, and my parents kept my kids for basically the entire weekend, and then Monday night for the final. I felt guilty, self-indulgent.

Anyway, that's my experience. Maybe sandbagging plays into the men's side, but not the women's.

Attila the tennis Bum
04-06-2007, 09:54 PM
I play because there is no where else to play during summer.

goober
04-06-2007, 10:02 PM
Leagues are tougher because more people are willing to play them, with a weekly prearranged time, than they are to devote a week or weekend to the odd times and rain delays of tournaments.

Especially for women. I really enjoy tournaments, but I have a family, and it is really tough to play many tournaments when you have responsibilities that aren't easily changed. I can get a sitter for 6 pm every Tuesday night, but it's not so easy to do for the various times of a tournament. The last singles tournament I played was great ... I won, yay. But my husband was out of town, and my parents kept my kids for basically the entire weekend, and then Monday night for the final. I felt guilty, self-indulgent.

Anyway, that's my experience. Maybe sandbagging plays into the men's side, but not the women's.

I think it has been pretty well established that women are constantly trying to get their computer ratings higher because they see it as some kind of validation of their tennis skills.

Men in USTA league tennis are doing everything they can to get their ratings from going up so they can win and dominate. Among the favorite methods- bring in a ringer and self rate too low. Purposely lose matches that don't matter. Purposely lose games to make matches look close. Hide out in doubles and then show up play #1 singles in sectionals/regionals. Entering tournaments and losing matches at the end of the year so you don't get bumped in league. I mean it is not really that surprising that at any given level that league tennis is tougher than tournaments rated 4.5 and below. The surprising thing is that people actually think they have accomplished something even though they are pulling off all this garbage. In the end it is still recreational level tennis and basically nobody cares except a very small group of people that are deluding themselves. Sorry for the tangent :)

BreakPoint
04-07-2007, 01:26 AM
I think it has been pretty well established that women are constantly trying to get their computer ratings higher because they see it as some kind of validation of their tennis skills.

Men in USTA league tennis are doing everything they can to get their ratings from going up so they can win and dominate. Among the favorite methods- bring in a ringer and self rate too low. Purposely lose matches that don't matter. Purposely lose games to make matches look close. Hide out in doubles and then show up play #1 singles in sectionals/regionals. Entering tournaments and losing matches at the end of the year so you don't get bumped in league. I mean it is not really that surprising that at any given level that league tennis is tougher than tournaments rated 4.5 and below. The surprising thing is that people actually think they have accomplished something even though they are pulling off all this garbage. In the end it is still recreational level tennis and basically nobody cares except a very small group of people that are deluding themselves. Sorry for the tangent :)
Yeah, I agree. I never really understood the thinking behind people that want to play below their true level. I know lots of people that will join an insignificant team that has no chance to make it to the playoffs and will lose every match badly on purpose in order to keep their ratings low so that they can play on other more significant teams at a lower than their true level to give themselves a better chance of making it to the playoffs. There are also many people that won't play up even though that's their true level for fear of being bumped up. None of this makes any sense to me as to get bumped up, you have to consistently win at the higher level and if you can win consistently at the higher level then you are obviously at least at that higher level. Why do these people want to continue playing people that are at a lower level than themselves? :confused: Are they just afraid of competition? Isn't good competiton what makes leagues, and tennis in general, fun? Do these people really enjoy beating up on inferior opponents? Is winning all that matters to these people? Do these people also enjoy taking candy away from babies or beating up handicapped people in wheelchairs? :confused: Really sad IMHO. :-(

couch
04-07-2007, 08:32 AM
Yeah, I agree. I never really understood the thinking behind people that want to play below their true level. I know lots of people that will join an insignificant team that has no chance to make it to the playoffs and will lose every match badly on purpose in order to keep their ratings low so that they can play on other more significant teams at a lower than their true level to give themselves a better chance of making it to the playoffs. There are also many people that won't play up even though that's their true level for fear of being bumped up. None of this makes any sense to me as to get bumped up, you have to consistently win at the higher level and if you can win consistently at the higher level then you are obviously at least at that higher level. Why do these people want to continue playing people that are at a lower level than themselves? :confused: Are they just afraid of competition? Isn't good competiton what makes leagues, and tennis in general, fun? Do these people really enjoy beating up on inferior opponents? Is winning all that matters to these people? Do these people also enjoy taking candy away from babies or beating up handicapped people in wheelchairs? :confused: Really sad IMHO. :-(

It really is sad what happens in USTA. I see so many people, especially at the 4.5 level, who lose matches on purpose or "give" games to lesser opponents so they can stay at that level.

It's so frustrating playing 5.0 because there are only two teams in our state and if all the players played that were 5.0 we would have at least four teams in our city and the local league would be a lot more fun. But most of the 5.0 rated players begin sitting out once they get bumped so they can play 4.5 again. Or they just lose all their matches on purpose at 5.0 and appeal the next year to try and get back down. It's so sad. Everyone has to win.

I play USTA because I love the competition and the team aspect. We also have some pretty good players and great guys on our team and we've been fortunate enough to go to Sectionals the last couple of years in Charleston, SC. Now that was fun. I didn't play tennis when I was young and picked it up after High School and really got serious after college. So I just love playing and getting better. My goal is to get better every time I go out.

Supernatural_Serve
04-07-2007, 08:37 AM
Why Play?

The USTA leagues offer the best opportunity for competitive doubles match play on a weekly to bi-weekly basis during the spring/early summer.

jimmycoop
04-07-2007, 09:03 AM
Ditto on the more than one reason. As a team capt. my main goal is for the team to win, advance, etc. but also for the team to enjoy playing together as a team. Personally, USTA league meets my needs for competition, hanging with the guys (and gals), measuring my progress and serving as motivation for improving my game.

rooski
04-07-2007, 09:12 AM
Men in USTA league tennis are doing everything they can to get their ratings from going up so they can win and dominate. Among the favorite methods- bring in a ringer and self rate too low. Purposely lose matches that don't matter. Purposely lose games to make matches look close. Hide out in doubles and then show up play #1 singles in sectionals/regionals. Entering tournaments and losing matches at the end of the year so you don't get bumped in league. I mean it is not really that surprising that at any given level that league tennis is tougher than tournaments rated 4.5 and below. The surprising thing is that people actually think they have accomplished something even though they are pulling off all this garbage. In the end it is still recreational level tennis and basically nobody cares except a very small group of people that are deluding themselves. Sorry for the tangent :)
This is why I stopped playing league tennis. I miss the team aspect but I still practice with many of the guys anyway.

One other note...several people above are not really differentiating "tournaments". There is a HUGE difference between NTRP tournaments and USTA sectional age group tournaments. For example, most of the guys that regularly play USTA 40's sectional tournaments are probably 5.0 to 6.0 NTRP. No self rated crap...just mano y mano...may the best man win.

North
04-07-2007, 10:14 AM
I think it has been pretty well established that women are constantly trying to get their computer ratings higher because they see it as some kind of validation of their tennis skills.

I have not found this to be true in my area. In my one and only season of USTA league play, I found just the opposite to be more generally true in womens USTA - sandbaggers galore. I simply don't bother with USTA play anymore because of that sort of nonsense and have subsequently met a lot of other women who also played only a season or two and then quit for the same reason.

oldguysrule
04-09-2007, 08:20 AM
I find it interesting that 26 out of 39 voters are playing USTA TEAM tennis for individual reasons. I admit, when I first started, I did not fully understand the team concept and was playing for me and to meet other players. That soon changed. However, this seems to be a high percentage of players that place individual needs ahead of team needs. It might explain why some people are frustrated when teams employ strategies that promote a team win over individual needs.

Cindysphinx
04-10-2007, 04:47 AM
Tennis, like swimming, is inherently an individual sport. If tennis can figure out a way that no one on the team wins unless the team wins, then the team principle will be more important.

Take a swimming relay event. If they gave gold medals to members of a swim relay team based on how well they swam their individual leg, you'd have something akin to a tennis team match.

Maybe USTA shouldn't count a player's win toward their rating unless the team also wins! :)

JLyon
04-10-2007, 05:41 AM
The competition is great, but until USTA starts taking an aggressive approach to handling sandbaggers and not handing out appeals like candy then league tennis at the 4.5 and above level will never really flourish. When someone can go undefeated at local, state, and sectional level and remain at the same level due to appeal it makes a mockery of the system.
In every state/section there will always be a team that throws matches early in order to win it all at the end. It happens everywhere from Dallas-Little Rock-New York.
It is a pure and simple joke somtimes because the USTA does not care as long as they get their league fees.

tennisphotog
04-10-2007, 05:43 AM
Agree with a lot of points here. We all seem frustrated with "sandbagging" at the 4.5 level which seems to exist due to the lack of true 5.0 teams. I am joining USTA for the first time after a long layoff. I always considered myself a true 4.5 and self-rate as such, but have been told by my new team coach to play 4.0 instead. After seeing the talent in my area (northern Virginia) there are so many true 5.0's playing 4.5 that, indeed, I see myself better fitting in as a 4.0. Guys coming off college teams are playing 4.5 - gimme a break. The system is broke. It is supposed to be competitive, that means ratings that actually mean something. Until the 4.5/5.0 problem is fixed, all lower levels are affected accordingly.
But, hey, it's just a game, and though some sad *******s actually let this crap run their lives, I will play for the fun, and if it's not, drop out. Why do people actually think their USTA team results actually matter. Is ESPN lining up at their door to put them on prime time?
No one is getting paid here!!! Just have fun. My two-cents.

tennis-n-sc
04-10-2007, 06:18 AM
Having played team sports since I was about 8 years old (and I'm an old man now), there is something about being a part of team that can be very rewarding. I have been blessed in that the adult tennis teams I have been a part of, both men's and mixed, have typically bonded in a very short time. We are all generally very competitive and want to win, but the comradeship between the players transcends the individual needs and goals. I was at the Davis Cup this past weekend, and the Winston-Salem Journal did a story on James Blake that spoke volumes about team tennis. He relates that when he went through the loss of his father, his broken neck and fall in the rankings, he relied on the support of his family to get him through. He listed his family as his mother and brother, and then his Davis Cup team mates, his coach (he has had the same one since age 11), and his Davis Cup captain. You could tell by watching the members of this team that there was something special there. All of my team mates are friends, some my best friends. We all support each other and the team above ourselves. The only other organization I have ever felt this was the military. That's why I play USTA team tennis. And this would be what I would miss most.

blakesq
04-10-2007, 07:20 AM
I don't think that the reason of "Pre-arranged competitive matches" is mutually exclusive to the team concept.

Blakesq



I find it interesting that 26 out of 39 voters are playing USTA TEAM tennis for individual reasons. I admit, when I first started, I did not fully understand the team concept and was playing for me and to meet other players. That soon changed. However, this seems to be a high percentage of players that place individual needs ahead of team needs. It might explain why some people are frustrated when teams employ strategies that promote a team win over individual needs.

oldguysrule
04-10-2007, 07:22 AM
Having played team sports since I was about 8 years old (and I'm an old man now), there is something about being a part of team that can be very rewarding. I have been blessed in that the adult tennis teams I have been a part of, both men's and mixed, have typically bonded in a very short time. We are all generally very competitive and want to win, but the comradeship between the players transcends the individual needs and goals. I was at the Davis Cup this past weekend, and the Winston-Salem Journal did a story on James Blake that spoke volumes about team tennis. He relates that when he went through the loss of his father, his broken neck and fall in the rankings, he relied on the support of his family to get him through. He listed his family as his mother and brother, and then his Davis Cup team mates, his coach (he has had the same one since age 11), and his Davis Cup captain. You could tell by watching the members of this team that there was something special there. All of my team mates are friends, some my best friends. We all support each other and the team above ourselves. The only other organization I have ever felt this was the military. That's why I play USTA team tennis. And this would be what I would miss most.

I want to be on your team...

When you look at it like this, all of the sideline drama...sand-baggers, cheaters, jerks, etc. don't seem to be that big of an issue.

oldguysrule
04-10-2007, 07:27 AM
I don't think that the reason of "Pre-arranged competitive matches" is mutually exclusive to the team concept.

Blakesq

I agree with you. It is one of my reasons for playing. But if that is your main reason for playing and you run up against a team that doesn't give you a competitive match because of their lineup strategy, then you may get frustrated.

tennis-n-sc
04-10-2007, 07:41 AM
I want to be on your team...

When you look at it like this, all of the sideline drama...sand-baggers, cheaters, jerks, etc. don't seem to be that big of an issue.

Thanks, Oldguys. It is true, we seldom even talk about sandbagging, cheating, jerks, etc. I can't remember the last time anything like that came up. But that's not all I can't remember!!!;)

vllockhart
04-13-2007, 12:05 PM
I thought I'd get to play in a match every week, which to me is the definition of a league. But I always run into this competition amongst the team to determine who is going to play. I think whoever joins the team should have a guaranteed number of matches. One thing people never seem to get is that if a player is weaker, he or she isn't going to get better sitting on the bench.


The captain of my team said that Saturday's practice will determine who plays the first match Wednesday. I have to try to cream my own teammate to get a match. I just don't agree with that at all. But, we'll see.