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TonyB
02-15-2009, 12:44 PM
I have played USTA for a few years and have had some fun, but it dawned on me that I'm just not sure what the point is. I mean, I know someone on another team that actually won our region and traveled around the country (on his own dime) to play USTA. But I think he won like a T-shirt and maybe a duffel bag when it was all over.

Anyways, I guess I'm just curious what the point to all of it is. Is there something more worth playing for than just pride? Or is that all that it is?

I haven't gone farther than the locals, so I'm not sure what else is out there. But I do know that if you have to travel, you pay your own way. And all to win a T-shirt? Hardly seems worth it to me.

What's your opinion?

blue12
02-15-2009, 12:50 PM
What's the alternative, no tournaments at all?
USTA is useful for Juniors to get rankings in order to get into colleges. It's also a good way for teaching pros to prove that they can do what they teach, and at the higher levels, both in the juniors and opens, can be a training ground for players going on to play futures and challengers!!
Oh yeah and it's fun and good exercise too!! You are right in a sense though. It shouldn't be all about winning!

raiden031
02-15-2009, 01:00 PM
The purpose of USTA leagues is to provide competitive tennis opportunities. There is no real purpose for wanting to compete at Nationals other than the fun of traveling across the country to play competitive tennis and being the best of a group of teams all trying to win the same tournament.

Its no different than entering a tournament in your local area and wanting to win the tournament. Unless its Wimbledon, it doesn't mean that much because there will always be better players than you out there who didn't enter the tournament.

So really its satisfying to know you are the best in your division in a large scale tournament like what the USTA National league championships provide.

And the last thing people care about is the trophy awarded at the championship.

Geezer Guy
02-15-2009, 02:11 PM
There's probably about as many reasons to play as there are players. Some are in it as a form of exercise. Some see it more social. Some are looking for a competitive outlet. Some just want to get away from the grind at the office or at home, I suppose. And - that's just the adults. I'm sure the juniors have a whole different set of reasons.

But, if you're playing for the t-shirts - it's cheaper/faster/easier to just go buy one.

Cruzer
02-15-2009, 05:30 PM
I have played USTA for a few years and have had some fun, but it dawned on me that I'm just not sure what the point is. I mean, I know someone on another team that actually won our region and traveled around the country (on his own dime) to play USTA. But I think he won like a T-shirt and maybe a duffel bag when it was all over.

As mentioned it provides a chance to play organized competitive tennis. If you like playing tennis competitively then the USTA is hard to beat in most parts of the country. Advancing from your local league to district playoffs and beyond is a lot of fun and you get to play against players you have not seen before in a more intense environment. You obviously don't play for the value of the prizes. The t-shirts, hats, pins, etc. are merely mementos of having competed.

JRstriker12
02-15-2009, 05:57 PM
I have played USTA for a few years and have had some fun, but it dawned on me that I'm just not sure what the point is. I mean, I know someone on another team that actually won our region and traveled around the country (on his own dime) to play USTA. But I think he won like a T-shirt and maybe a duffel bag when it was all over.

Anyways, I guess I'm just curious what the point to all of it is. Is there something more worth playing for than just pride? Or is that all that it is?

I haven't gone farther than the locals, so I'm not sure what else is out there. But I do know that if you have to travel, you pay your own way. And all to win a T-shirt? Hardly seems worth it to me.

What's your opinion?

I think you have it wrong. Your buddy didn't travel to win stuff (cash, trophies, etc.) he traveled for the competition and because it's fun. USTA is not professional tennis, so to think that you get more than pride of achievement and maybe a few plastic trophies, or t-shirts is seriously miss- guided.

I know a few guys that have traveled to USTA tournaments in different spots across the US on their own dime. They did it for the competition and the fun. They also met some cool people and got to hang out.

USTA isn't the end all of tennis competition. You can play at a club or a local tennis association, but even at those places, you'll get little more than bragging rights.

In the end USTA is what you make it. The point of it for most people is to go out and have fun playing competitive.

The real question here is what do you expect from playing small-time, local, amateur tennis?

Unless you can draw a crowd or sponsors, no one is going to pay your way or hand over cash for playing a sport. Even the guys at the challenger level don't make a lot of money, so how can you expect free travel, etc. for going to 3.5, 4.0, or 4.5 nationals?

fuzz nation
02-16-2009, 07:25 AM
Well put, JR...

I think that USTA competition is very much what you make of it. I enjoyed playing with a mixed doubles team for a couple of years because we were competitive and we also got along really well. There are the disappointing stories, too. My biggest beef with the organization has to do with their shift towards a more "hands-off" posture with the NTRP ratings. The sandbagging issue is absolutely toxic and I think that the USTA can only control it by getting more qualified eyes on its members with initial ratings as well as some unannounced spot checks. A computer can only discern a player's ability in general terms and the leagues would be much more attractive with more reliable ratings among the players.

Tony - One thing you can keep an eye out for is a local or regional ladder league that's run entirely online. These are gaining lots of traction because they're so simple - you sign up for a really basic fee and the computer pairs you against someone, you contact each other, and schedule your own matches. Then the computer takes the results and maintains the ladder through the season. It's usually used during the months that you can play outdoors and in just the past year or so, I've talked with a few people who like this stuff a lot more than USTA leagues.

Sometimes it all comes down to winning bragging rights for a year, too. There's a regional summer league where I am that's composed of serious hitters - college players, teaching pros, etc. - and their teams play matches through the summer for a league championship. These guys are among the best players around and their league is a pretty informal thing - no going to nationals or anything like that, they just like the competition and it's a lot of fun to watch!

In terms of having more serious prizes to play for (yes, cash), you'd probably need to look around for those tournaments, but some of them exist. I just haven't had the spine to go after any of them yet. I've definitely felt more of a feeling of accomplishment after playing in a weekend tournament than with the USTA leagues I've dabbled with. I find that the tournament is more of a competitive high point, even if I lose in a hurry, than a league match which is more of a routine thing. I also don't like playing indoors, so that's another mark against playing USTA for me...

JRstriker12
02-16-2009, 07:49 AM
Well put, JR...

I think that USTA competition is very much what you make of it. I enjoyed playing with a mixed doubles team for a couple of years because we were competitive and we also got along really well. There are the disappointing stories, too. My biggest beef with the organization has to do with their shift towards a more "hands-off" posture with the NTRP ratings. The sandbagging issue is absolutely toxic and I think that the USTA can only control it by getting more qualified eyes on its members with initial ratings as well as some unannounced spot checks. A computer can only discern a player's ability in general terms and the leagues would be much more attractive with more reliable ratings among the players.

Tony - One thing you can keep an eye out for is a local or regional ladder league that's run entirely online. These are gaining lots of traction because they're so simple - you sign up for a really basic fee and the computer pairs you against someone, you contact each other, and schedule your own matches. Then the computer takes the results and maintains the ladder through the season. It's usually used during the months that you can play outdoors and in just the past year or so, I've talked with a few people who like this stuff a lot more than USTA leagues.

Sometimes it all comes down to winning bragging rights for a year, too. There's a regional summer league where I am that's composed of serious hitters - college players, teaching pros, etc. - and their teams play matches through the summer for a league championship. These guys are among the best players around and their league is a pretty informal thing - no going to nationals or anything like that, they just like the competition and it's a lot of fun to watch!

In terms of having more serious prizes to play for (yes, cash), you'd probably need to look around for those tournaments, but some of them exist. I just haven't had the spine to go after any of them yet. I've definitely felt more of a feeling of accomplishment after playing in a weekend tournament than with the USTA leagues I've dabbled with. I find that the tournament is more of a competitive high point, even if I lose in a hurry, than a league match which is more of a routine thing. I also don't like playing indoors, so that's another mark against playing USTA for me...

Fuzz Nation. We had one tourney in my local area in Northern VA, where the winner of the the tourney got something like $1000. Entry fee was about $50. Lots of upper level players, so I didn't play that one. It was fun to watch though.

We also have another local tournament, where the final is broadcast on a local cable TV channel, but there's no cash prize (as far as I can remember).

Also leagues vs. tournaments. I prefer tournaments, but right now it's hard to block off the time to play them, whereas leagues let me get some competitive tennis in the limited amount of time that I have. I prefer tournaments overall. The timed, indoor leagues can be a bit unsatisfying when your match times out instead of playing it out to the end. I've also played in some nice singles tennis leagues outside of USTA at a local club, but I find that the competition isn't as good as in USTA.

All in all - it's all fun for me. I get my tennis in when I can. Also, sometimes you get to meet some really cool people.

fuzz nation
02-16-2009, 08:37 AM
That's good to hear, JR.

I've found that if I approach a lot of tennis settings too passively, I really don't get much out of them. When I put some extra effort toward networking though, the floodgates can open in a hurry. Suddenly I'm the guy that lots of people will call to fill in for their group or for hitting sessions, etc.

I wanted to accomplish more as a "tennis person" in general after having coached some high school teams and doing a little teaching on my own, so I certified with the USPTA last year. It was a really good learning process that catapulted me into a rather productive summer, but I've found that this pursuit has the same aspect where the amount that I get out is relative to how much I put in. I may have a full time teaching opportunity this summer, but I'm also thinking hard about what I want to accomplish with my competitive playing, too. Probably won't have a ton of time for both.

That tournament you mentioned sounds like one they hold in Prov., RI in the summer. Lots of strong talent shows up, but I think that this tourney also has a "B flight" for the guys who are less than stone cold killers out there. If I did a half decent job of planning ahead, I'm sure that I could enjoy a couple of these.

That networking really pays off when you come across some of the cool people, doesn't it?

S H O W S T O P P E R !
02-16-2009, 09:37 AM
What's the alternative, no tournaments at all?
USTA is useful for Juniors to get rankings in order to get into colleges. It's also a good way for teaching pros to prove that they can do what they teach, and at the higher levels, both in the juniors and opens, can be a training ground for players going on to play futures and challengers!!
Oh yeah and it's fun and good exercise too!! You are right in a sense though. It shouldn't be all about winning!

Yeah, and they also run the US Open.

JRstriker12
02-16-2009, 10:51 AM
That's good to hear, JR.

I've found that if I approach a lot of tennis settings too passively, I really don't get much out of them. When I put some extra effort toward networking though, the floodgates can open in a hurry. Suddenly I'm the guy that lots of people will call to fill in for their group or for hitting sessions, etc.

I wanted to accomplish more as a "tennis person" in general after having coached some high school teams and doing a little teaching on my own, so I certified with the USPTA last year. It was a really good learning process that catapulted me into a rather productive summer, but I've found that this pursuit has the same aspect where the amount that I get out is relative to how much I put in. I may have a full time teaching opportunity this summer, but I'm also thinking hard about what I want to accomplish with my competitive playing, too. Probably won't have a ton of time for both.

That tournament you mentioned sounds like one they hold in Prov., RI in the summer. Lots of strong talent shows up, but I think that this tourney also has a "B flight" for the guys who are less than stone cold killers out there. If I did a half decent job of planning ahead, I'm sure that I could enjoy a couple of these.

That networking really pays off when you come across some of the cool people, doesn't it?

Yeah - the tourney with the cash prize. IIRC- the guy who won it plays for Duke.

http://tennislink.usta.com/tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=70326

http://www.goduke.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=22590&SPID=1839&DB_OEM_ID=4200&ATCLID=1250560&Q_SEASON=2007

Networking through tennis is amazing. I bump into guys who I played 2-3 years ago all the time. I'm horrible with names, but I usually remember their names and the score of our last match.

Plus, one of my main rivals on the local courts is now a good friend of mine and he gives me a nice break on racket stringing.

Also, it's cool to meet people on this board. Know a bunch of people from the TWMAC thread. I've met and hit with Moz - for about 15 min. Also met Drakulie and some of the Florida Peeps.

TonyB
02-16-2009, 02:38 PM
There are the disappointing stories, too. My biggest beef with the organization has to do with their shift towards a more "hands-off" posture with the NTRP ratings. The sandbagging issue is absolutely toxic and I think that the USTA can only control it by getting more qualified eyes on its members with initial ratings as well as some unannounced spot checks. A computer can only discern a player's ability in general terms and the leagues would be much more attractive with more reliable ratings among the players.




I think this is a huge issue that really hurts the credibility of the USTA leagues in general. Last year, we played 4.0 level doubles and at least half the teams we played against were 4.5+. In no way possible were they 4.0.

This year, I'm playing in a men's 4.5 this season and I'm a bit fortunate that I have at least 3 players who are 5.0-5.5 that are playing 4.5. For whatever reason, they destroy their opponents every year (6-0, 6-1, or 6-2 at the absolute most), yet never get bumped out of 4.5. Like I said, I feel bad in a way, but I also feel lucky that they're on my team.

Anyways, it just doesn't lend a ton of credibility to the USTA in general in my mind. I always look at my team and feel guilty because I feel like I'm getting away with something, even though I'm sure other teams do it too.

jefferson
02-16-2009, 03:28 PM
I found a use for USTA after college. I found myself stil wanting the team, competitive feeling. Unfortunately for most of us competitive team tennis ends with college. USTA offers me something other than a mens league or once a year tournament.

The other thing that I love is knowing that I have scheduled tennis practice and/or match each week.

Kick_It
02-16-2009, 04:40 PM
I think Fuzz said it well - it's what you make of it.

To me - it is to stay in shape in the winter and practice for summer tournaments. Where I live it is hard to book indoor courts during the winter (in part because leagues/teams book many courts).

Recognizing that situation a couple years back , I joined a couple teams as that was how I could actually get indoor court time. Conveniently the courts came with people to practice with ;-)

Jim A
02-16-2009, 05:08 PM
I think what most people are missing is that the USTA wasn't designed for adults.

First and foremost it is there to grow and develop the game of tennis across the US. Likely it also acts as our national governing body for those who go to the Olympics, play professionally et.al

Secondly it provides sanctioning for tournaments and has its own line of league play for its members and associations.

For many of us this offers up a way to continue the team aspect and offer more than the same 10-15 people a ladder or club league may offer.

Some people thrive on this sort of competition and camaraderie while others are content to play club doubles on a monday night.

I'm playing my first USTA leagues this year and looking forward to it. Prior to now I had played in select tournaments when the time worked, but it will be nice to meet some different people within the region.

For many of us who aren't the up and comers, it is purely a what you make it organization

NetMaster70
02-16-2009, 07:15 PM
In League (team) matches you are playing for not only myself _ but also for your team members. For that reason the matches seem to mean more. The competitive pressure is higher and the joy of winning (for your team) is greater.

All that said, I do think the USTA could do a better job with league administration.

MariaS
02-17-2009, 10:24 AM
It's not always easy to find opponents to play doubles or singles with at the same level and seriously: So I enjoyed USTA just for that reason.