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Cindysphinx
05-04-2009, 11:52 AM
I know of two different players who are playing up.

One is a woman. She is a computer-rated 3.0. She is playing as high as 8.0 mixed and 4.0 ladies. In her last 4.0 singles match, she played a 3.5 player (who moved up to 3.5 this year) who I would say is middle of the pack 3.5. The 3.5 player double-bageled her.

The other player is a guy. He self-rated at 4.5 and played 8.0 mixed. I believe he lost all of his matches quite badly, so the computer dropped him to 3.5. He appealed back up to 4.0 and continues to play 8.0 mixed and 4.0 mens. He regularly gets stomped.

I have been told that USTA forbids any section from passing any rule that infringes on a player's desire to play up. Is this fair? I mean, don't the opponents -- who show up expecting a reasonably competitive match -- have any say in this? Isn't that what we were all promised the NTRP system would deliver?

I have to say, if I drive across town to play 3.5 singles and a genuine 2.5 player shows up, I would be quite annoyed to have my time wasted like that.

OrangePower
05-04-2009, 12:04 PM
Yes, there should. Maybe the rule should be that you can play up only if you're within .25 of the next level? So for example a 3.3 would be able to play at 4.0, but a 3.2 would not. Honestly, if you're not at least above average at your own level, you shouldn't be playing up. And I can see no reason for allowing anyone to play up two levels.

I'm an above-average but not top 4.0, and I would say that 25% of my singles matches have been against 3.5s playing up. And not strong 3.5s either. No real enjoyment for me playing these matches.

Off topic, but I find it especially ironic that sometimes the same players that play up "to get experience playing stronger competition" are also the ones that complain the loudest about sandbaggers when they get beat at their own level. Seems like strong competition is only a good thing under limited circumstances.

Nanshiki
05-04-2009, 12:22 PM
Most people aren't stupid enough to play more than one point above their level... although I think a national-level 3.0 would probably do well in an uncompetitive 4.0 league.

I feel worst for the doubles partners who get saddled with someone playing (or self-rating) way above their level.

raiden031
05-04-2009, 12:37 PM
Yes, there should. Maybe the rule should be that you can play up only if you're within .25 of the next level? So for example a 3.3 would be able to play at 4.0, but a 3.2 would not. Honestly, if you're not at least above average at your own level, you shouldn't be playing up. And I can see no reason for allowing anyone to play up two levels.


I agree here. I also think at least 75% of a team should be rated at level as well. Its just a matter of wasting your opponents' time. If you show up to a match and everyone gets blown out, thats no fun for either team.

Although in Cindy's second example of the guy who appealed to 4.0, because he was in appeal range, I think he was fine playing at 4.0.

Cindysphinx
05-04-2009, 12:45 PM
Off topic, but I find it especially ironic that sometimes the same players that play up "to get experience playing stronger competition" are also the ones that complain the loudest about sandbaggers when they get beat at their own level. Seems like strong competition is only a good thing under limited circumstances.

The reasoning, as you say, is that these players think they will improve more quickly if they play super-strong players. Trouble is, if you are getting double-bageled or regularly crushed, you're not improving. On account of how you aren't touching the ball.

I have heard from some of these players that they detest the play at their own level. The pushing, the pitiful pace, etc. I get that. I mean, I could continue to play 6.5 combo, but I just can't take it anymore because of the overall lack of excitement (as I define it). But honestly, I think you should be reasonably competitive at your own level before you play up.

I also don't think it is fair for a player to be playing two levels up *and* playing your own level. Say you are a computer-rated 3.0 player. If you really think your skills are more like high 3.5, then why are you beating up on people in 6.0 mixed and 3.0 ladies? And if your skills aren't high 3.5, then how come you are wasting people's time at 4.0?

Me, I'm not playing 8.0 mixed until I think I am ready. And I won't think I'm ready until I can rally from the baseline with a 4.0 dude and return a decent percentage of his serves. It isn't fun to spend a whole match finding new ways to say to your opponent, "Oh, wow, good shot!"

maverick66
05-04-2009, 12:55 PM
wouldnt the team that has these players not want them? there costing your team points so why would they be allowed to play? If its a tourny thats different as they show up on there own and someone gets an easy win. but for league matches i would think the team would get ****ed about sacrificing a slot every week.

raiden031
05-04-2009, 12:56 PM
I have heard from some of these players that they detest the play at their own level. The pushing, the pitiful pace, etc. I get that. I mean, I could continue to play 6.5 combo, but I just can't take it anymore because of the overall lack of excitement (as I define it). But honestly, I think you should be reasonably competitive at your own level before you play up.


This is probably the biggest league tennis fallacy. People think they are losing at their level because their opponents dink the ball too much. Its a hurdle you MUST overcome, you don't bypass it. There is no such thing as a 4.0 that can't beat a 3.0 to 3.5 pusher.

raiden031
05-04-2009, 12:57 PM
wouldnt the team that has these players not want them? there costing your team points so why would they be allowed to play? If its a tourny thats different as they show up on there own and someone gets an easy win. but for league matches i would think the team would get ****ed about sacrificing a slot every week.

Yeah this follows the whole 'market will take care of itself' mentality. You would think captains are competitive enough not to want players like this. This is why I believe they should have a 75% at-level rule so that you don't have an entire team of 3.0-3.5s playing at 4.0 where nobody cares about being competitive because the whole team is not competitive.

maverick66
05-04-2009, 01:05 PM
it might just be because im highly competitive but i would be ****ed if i was on a team and one guy got killed every week. Enough so that i would tell the captain that he goes or im done. Hes robbing you of a chance to win the league so he can tell everyone that he is better than he is.

Cindysphinx
05-04-2009, 01:06 PM
Yeah this follows the whole 'market will take care of itself' mentality. You would think captains are competitive enough not to want players like this. This is why I believe they should have a 75% at-level rule so that you don't have an entire team of 3.0-3.5s playing at 4.0 where nobody cares about being competitive because the whole team is not competitive.

I am not sure I agree that the 75% rule is a good thing, and I will tell you why.

New teams have to get off the ground somehow. If you hang out your shingle to start a new team, you run into the immediate problem that *all* of the players of that level already have a team. So you can't start a new team at all.

Right now, there are two of these "start-up" teams playing 4.0 ladies. My team has three 4.0 players. Everyone else is 3.5 (except one lady who is 3.0), and most of us are middle 3.5 or high 3.5. We already have one team win! The other start-up team is a bit stronger on paper, with five 4.0s and no 3.0 players.

To me, the problem isn't the start-up teams. The problem is individual players who ought to know better. So why not deal with the individual rather than punish the rest of the team, who are capable of being competitive at the higher level?

Now, I also captain 3.5, and of course there are some players who play up and can't handle it. I don't mind some of this. Hey, most of us play up at some point, right? Plus, having obviously weak start-up teams allows a captain to make sure everyone gets at least two matches and therefore is eligible for the playoffs. That said, I wouldn't want to see 2.5 players showing up.

And Raiden, I totally agree that it is crap when people say they can't win at their own level but ought to be able to play at the higher level.

raiden031
05-04-2009, 01:07 PM
it might just be because im highly competitive but i would be ****ed if i was on a team and one guy got killed every week. Enough so that i would tell the captain that he goes or im done. Hes robbing you of a chance to win the league so he can tell everyone that he is better than he is.

I hope you're not on my team. :)

Hahaha I'm not playing up either, I just haven't grown into my rating quite yet.

Cindysphinx
05-04-2009, 01:08 PM
I hope you're not on my team. :)

Hahaha I'm not playing up either, I just haven't grown into my rating quite yet.

Raiden, you are a computer-rated 4.0, so of course there will be a period where you grow into it. If you were also playing up at 5.0, that would be as reasonable as what some of these players are attempting! :)

maverick66
05-04-2009, 01:11 PM
I hope you're not on my team. :)

Hahaha I'm not playing up either, I just haven't grown into my rating quite yet.

I can understand that people are gonna lose matches. its gonna happen but if every week they get killed 0-0 then there not even competitive. why waste my time with a team that thinks it ok to just throw away points like that.

raiden031
05-04-2009, 01:11 PM
I am not sure I agree that the 75% rule is a good thing, and I will tell you why.

New teams have to get off the ground somehow. If you hang out your shingle to start a new team, you run into the immediate problem that *all* of the players of that level already have a team. So you can't start a new team at all.

Right now, there are two of these "start-up" teams playing 4.0 ladies. My team has three 4.0 players. Everyone else is 3.5 (except one lady who is 3.0), and most of us are middle 3.5 or high 3.5. We already have one team win! The other start-up team is a bit stronger on paper, with five 4.0s and no 3.0 players.

To me, the problem isn't the start-up teams. The problem is individual players who ought to know better. So why not deal with the individual rather than punish the rest of the team, who are capable of being competitive at the higher level?

Now, I also captain 3.5, and of course there are some players who play up and can't handle it. I don't mind some of this. Hey, most of us play up at some point, right? Plus, having obviously weak start-up teams allows a captain to make sure everyone gets at least two matches and therefore is eligible for the playoffs. That said, I wouldn't want to see 2.5 players showing up.

And Raiden, I totally agree that it is crap when people say they can't win at their own level but ought to be able to play at the higher level.

Its too early to say for your team, but no way no how is a team comprised of 3.5s going to be very competitive in 4.0 men's leagues. My team is already struggling and we have mostly 4.0s on it.

raiden031
05-04-2009, 01:12 PM
I can understand that people are gonna lose matches. its gonna happen but if every week they get killed 0-0 then there not even competitive. why waste my time with a team that thinks it ok to just throw away points like that.

I know. At least with me I can easily beat guys at the next level down. I'm in limbo where I go from winning easily to losing badly.

Cindysphinx
05-04-2009, 01:15 PM
But hey, that's how you build a team.

When I moved my 5.5 combo team up to 6.5, we only had two 3.5s (one of whom was a weak 3.5). That meant we usually fielded 6.0 pairs in a 6.5 league. We lost a lot. But every year, the existing players improved and I would gradually find 3.5s. After two years, we went from the basement to dominating the league.

Had there been a 75% rule, our little 5.5 team would have nowhere to go and would have had to disband (we had too many 3.0s to play 5.5 anymore).

Raiden, on your 4.0 team, are the 4.0 players "real" 4.0s? Or are they self-rated or hopelessly optimistic 4.0s?

kylebarendrick
05-04-2009, 01:19 PM
This is probably the biggest league tennis fallacy. People think they are losing at their level because their opponents dink the ball too much. Its a hurdle you MUST overcome, you don't bypass it. There is no such thing as a 4.0 that can't beat a 3.0 to 3.5 pusher.

Even worse, if a 3.5 declares they are playing up because they can't stand the dinking/pushing at 3.5, they are in for a rude awakening when they learn that 4.0s will quickly figure out they like pace and are much better at feeding them "garbage" than the 3.5s are.

OrangePower
05-04-2009, 01:36 PM
Its too early to say for your team, but no way no how is a team comprised of 3.5s going to be very competitive in 4.0 men's leagues. My team is already struggling and we have mostly 4.0s on it.

Guess it depends on how we define competetive.

I agree that a team of 3.5s playing 4.0 are going to finish at or near the bottom of the standings. But if the players are at least strong 3.5s, they will probably win a few individual matches here and there, and set scores would in general not be complete blowouts (bagels and breadsticks).

There is a team like this in our league, and I think it's ok. We know they are weak, they know they are weak, they don't have unreasonable expectations, and they are just trying to get to play some stronger opposition. And I don't mind playing them, because they are still strong enough to make for enjoyable games.

On the other hand, there is another team that is mostly weak 3.5s. This I don't get. They get consistently killed in each individual match. I don't think this does anything for improving their games and it's definitely no fun for their opponents.

raiden031
05-04-2009, 01:55 PM
Raiden, on your 4.0 team, are the 4.0 players "real" 4.0s? Or are they self-rated or hopelessly optimistic 4.0s?

I haven't looked at their backgrounds much, but I'd say they are real. Maybe they are lower end as well. Definitely they are better than 3.5.

Hokiez
05-04-2009, 02:05 PM
Agree with the sentiment. I've twice driven across town (40 minute drive) to play very uncompetitive matches. First was a 3.5 who only bumped UP to 3.5 last year which was a 38 minute match, the second was out of the guys control but was a legit 3.5 who got bumped to 4.0, that one lasted 40 minutes. It's really not fair to play up when you can't PLAY up.

I play USTA to have competitive matches, not to go over and teach someone how to play for free. I'm paying money in league fees, racquets, clothes, gas, etc. to do this. Do that on your own time, don't waste mine.

Nanshiki
05-04-2009, 02:37 PM
I think it's really pretentious of you to act like you're 'teaching' someone how to play, or that they're wasting your time. Players who are at two different sides of the spectrum of the same level (ie, a 3.01 and a 3.5) will often not have a competitive match even though both are required to play in the same league.

And for what it's worth, sometimes even a 6-0 set can be fairly close... and you can win 6-4 while losing 40% of the points. You can even lose a tiebreaker set while winning more points (love holds, close return game losses, and a close tiebreaker loss).

10sfreak
05-04-2009, 04:15 PM
I think the solution would be to only allow players to play one level up. 3.0s can play up to 3.5 league, 3.5s can play up to 4.0, etc.

Hokiez
05-04-2009, 04:50 PM
I think it's really pretentious of you to act like you're 'teaching' someone how to play, or that they're wasting your time. Players who are at two different sides of the spectrum of the same level (ie, a 3.01 and a 3.5) will often not have a competitive match even though both are required to play in the same league.

And for what it's worth, sometimes even a 6-0 set can be fairly close... and you can win 6-4 while losing 40% of the points. You can even lose a tiebreaker set while winning more points (love holds, close return game losses, and a close tiebreaker loss).

I agree, we're not talking about losing a 6-0 set where every game wnet to deuce and a ball bounced the other way. When it's 3.05 vs. 3.95, it's never, ever, ever going to be close. Most of the singles players at 4.0 are in the top half of the 4.0 so figure 90% of the matches will be 3.05 vs. 3.75+, again, never close. I think we all enjoy hitting with better players, but it should be on their time, not under the guise of a close match when the other person has driven 40 minutes to get there. Most of us have families and value our time with and away from them and would prefer to have a competitive match (isn't that why we have leagues?). You call it pretentious, I call it disrespectful of the person to misrepresent themselves by playing in a league they have no business in and wasting their opponents time.

Nanshiki
05-04-2009, 08:51 PM
It's not disrespectful if they either legitimately believe they're at the same level, or were simply misguided in their self-rating. Most people will not intentionally play up to the point where they constantly lose badly. At least not for more than a season.

And FWIW, some people who are borderline between levels might just off days...especially people who haven't been playing as long.

If you're so worried about time with your family, you probably shouldn't waste it playing in a tennis league anyway. Go play with your family instead.

BreakPoint
05-04-2009, 11:56 PM
I think the solution would be to only allow players to play one level up. 3.0s can play up to 3.5 league, 3.5s can play up to 4.0, etc.
That is already the case in the USTA NorCal section. I had assumed it was nationwide. Starting this year in NorCal, you are only allowed to play up one level, e.g., a 3.5 can play 4.0 but not 4.5 leagues.

Cindysphinx
05-05-2009, 02:45 AM
It's not disrespectful if they either legitimately believe they're at the same level, or were simply misguided in their self-rating. Most people will not intentionally play up to the point where they constantly lose badly. At least not for more than a season.



Oh, yes they will.

People often don't have the skills to hang at a level, but they don't wish to be left behind. Or more commonly, they think that playing too far up is the way to improve their strokes.

No one is saying players shouldn't be allowed to play up at all. It's just that having no limits whatsoever on playing up defeats the whole purpose of NTRP, which is to do the best we can to see that matches are competitive.

Heck, if you're going to let people play two levels up and not respect the integrity and purpose of having levels in the first place, why not let people play one level down?

heninfan99
05-05-2009, 05:09 AM
No. The free market will quickly curb the grandiose dreams of a 3.5 playing at 4.5.

GeoffB
05-08-2009, 07:34 AM
That is already the case in the USTA NorCal section. I had assumed it was nationwide. Starting this year in NorCal, you are only allowed to play up one level, e.g., a 3.5 can play 4.0 but not 4.5 leagues.

That's a good start, but it doesn't address a second problem - the growing disparity between team and tournament NTRP. There's a lot of incentive to "play down" in team (get to be the hero, easier to get a starting spot) than there is in tournaments. As a result, a lot of people try to keep a low rating for team play, and just play way up in tournaments.

Recently, a 4.0 norcal player won two 5.0 tournaments. He didn't beat any 5.0 players, though he did beat a bunch of 4.5s. This is an extreme example, but it's a good illustration of the problem. Not only did a 4.0 win the 5.0 tournaments, but there aren't all that many actual 5.0 players in 5.0 tournaments in the first place. As long as people can play up in *tournaments* as much as they like (I think the limitations you referred to are for league play only), they'll keep a low rating for team - there's everything to gain, and nothing to lose. This has created a situation where "playing up" in tournaments is the norm - 4.5 tournaments are for 4.0 league players, 5.0 tournaments are for 4.5 league players, and so on.

One possible solution would be to enforce a "one level up" rule on *all* types of competition - flex, league, and tournaments. This way, there would be a downside to keeping an artificially low rating. A 5.0 level player probably wouldn't want to self-rate at 4.0 if it meant he'd lose the right to compete in 5.0 tournaments.

OrangePower
05-08-2009, 07:53 AM
That's a good start, but it doesn't address a second problem - the growing disparity between team and tournament NTRP. There's a lot of incentive to "play down" in team (get to be the hero, easier to get a starting spot) than there is in tournaments. As a result, a lot of people try to keep a low rating for team play, and just play way up in tournaments.

Recently, a 4.0 norcal player won two 5.0 tournaments. He didn't beat any 5.0 players, though he did beat a bunch of 4.5s. This is an extreme example, but it's a good illustration of the problem. Not only did a 4.0 win the 5.0 tournaments, but there aren't all that many actual 5.0 players in 5.0 tournaments in the first place. As long as people can play up in *tournaments* as much as they like (I think the limitations you referred to are for league play only), they'll keep a low rating for team - there's everything to gain, and nothing to lose. This has created a situation where "playing up" in tournaments is the norm - 4.5 tournaments are for 4.0 league players, 5.0 tournaments are for 4.5 league players, and so on.

One possible solution would be to enforce a "one level up" rule on *all* types of competition - flex, league, and tournaments. This way, there would be a downside to keeping an artificially low rating. A 5.0 level player probably wouldn't want to self-rate at 4.0 if it meant he'd lose the right to compete in 5.0 tournaments.

This is a very interesting observation - I think you're right re the disparity between average strength of play in tournaments vs league. Sometimes it also works against the player: we were looking to add this guy to our 4.0 league team that to date had played only tournaments, but at the end of last year he was given a 4.5T rating and so cannot play for us this year. Comparing him with the other players we have, he is a strong 4.0 for sure, but no way is he a 'league 4.5'. He did do very well at tournaments, but many of the tournament players don't play league and IMO have an inflated tournament only rating.

I do agree that any limitations on playing up should be applied across the board. Unfortunately I just don't see it happening since it will cost USTA $$$ in lost entry fees...

larry10s
05-08-2009, 08:00 AM
among the pros at a grand slam for example they dont tell the qualifier who got nadal in the first round he cant playup. in a tournament you are not there for a good time you are there to play a match. if you win easy you had a "good draw". you competitive games you can schedule yourself or get tested in the tournament depending on your draw. i see no problem letting people play up.

vagabondma
05-08-2009, 08:31 AM
Our local league used to have a 30% rule- no more than 30% of the team could be below a given level. That helped prevent the teams that are all people wanting to play up. Of course national USTA shot the rule down after a few years because you can not tell a player not to play up. After all, they just want more players and revenue. But there really should be a rule against playing more than a full level above your own. A 4.5 does not want to come out to a match and see a 3.5 across the court. You expect to play someone at least within a reasonable range of your skill level.
Part of the problem is the captains too- you want to field a team, and are having trouble finding enough players, so you may take a player well below the appropriate level. Its up to the captains to try and field a competitive team- they ultimately have the final say on who plays.

MNPlayer
05-08-2009, 08:34 AM
This is a very interesting observation - I think you're right re the disparity between average strength of play in tournaments vs league. Sometimes it also works against the player: we were looking to add this guy to our 4.0 league team that to date had played only tournaments, but at the end of last year he was given a 4.5T rating and so cannot play for us this year. Comparing him with the other players we have, he is a strong 4.0 for sure, but no way is he a 'league 4.5'. He did do very well at tournaments, but many of the tournament players don't play league and IMO have an inflated tournament only rating.

I do agree that any limitations on playing up should be applied across the board. Unfortunately I just don't see it happening since it will cost USTA $$$ in lost entry fees...

Don't the tournament only ratings take account of who you beat, just like the league ratings? I suppose if tournament players are a completely different set of players, the ratings could be skewed different since you would never play against league players. It doesn't seem like that in my region (Northern). The better tournament players are also some of the better league players from my limited observation (this is at 3.5 & 4.0 though, don't know about higher than that).

OrangePower
05-08-2009, 12:02 PM
Don't the tournament only ratings take account of who you beat, just like the league ratings? I suppose if tournament players are a completely different set of players, the ratings could be skewed different since you would never play against league players. It doesn't seem like that in my region (Northern). The better tournament players are also some of the better league players from my limited observation (this is at 3.5 & 4.0 though, don't know about higher than that).

It's not a completely different set of players here, but there are enough that play tournaments only to skew the ratings. Another common thing is for players that only get to play doubles in league to try their hand at singles in tournaments. Typically they are much stronger at doubles than singles, but the rating does not differentiate, and so that skews things also.

OrangePower
05-08-2009, 12:09 PM
among the pros at a grand slam for example they dont tell the qualifier who got nadal in the first round he cant playup. in a tournament you are not there for a good time you are there to play a match. if you win easy you had a "good draw". you competitive games you can schedule yourself or get tested in the tournament depending on your draw. i see no problem letting people play up.

Sorry but this is not a good example. Nadal's motivation for playing is completely different to my motivation for playing.

For Nadal this is a career, and he makes money by winning. So he would be happy with easy wins.

For me, the motivation is enjoying the tennis and getting a workout. Sure I want to win, but there is no real reward for winning other than the satisfaction of having played well. If I'm playing players well below my level then there is no enjoyment and no satisfaction. And I'm sure stronger players would feel the same about playing me :-)

Larry, maybe you are stong enough to play in tournaments that offer significant prize money, in which case I would see your point. But this is not the case for me or for most of the posters here.

raiden031
05-08-2009, 12:33 PM
Sorry but this is not a good example. Nadal's motivation for playing is completely different to my motivation for playing.


Another reason its a bad example is that the qualifier must still qualify for the tournament, whereas any old joe can sign up for a usta ntrp tournament way above their level.

JavierLW
05-08-2009, 01:21 PM
I know of two different players who are playing up.

One is a woman. She is a computer-rated 3.0. She is playing as high as 8.0 mixed and 4.0 ladies. In her last 4.0 singles match, she played a 3.5 player (who moved up to 3.5 this year) who I would say is middle of the pack 3.5. The 3.5 player double-bageled her.

The other player is a guy. He self-rated at 4.5 and played 8.0 mixed. I believe he lost all of his matches quite badly, so the computer dropped him to 3.5. He appealed back up to 4.0 and continues to play 8.0 mixed and 4.0 mens. He regularly gets stomped.

I have been told that USTA forbids any section from passing any rule that infringes on a player's desire to play up. Is this fair? I mean, don't the opponents -- who show up expecting a reasonably competitive match -- have any say in this? Isn't that what we were all promised the NTRP system would deliver?

I have to say, if I drive across town to play 3.5 singles and a genuine 2.5 player shows up, I would be quite annoyed to have my time wasted like that.

The USTA did that because they make more money if people sign up for more leagues, it's as simple as that.

Also Ive heard this argument in my own area and usually the people making the argument here happen to be the select few first place teams that win every year, and most of their players are really rated to low anyway. (although these days a lot of them are getting moved up faster at least)

It would probably be a good idea if you couldnt move up more then one level, but there is such a big overlap between 3.0 and 3.5 or 3.5 and 4.0 that it would be pointless to make any sort of restriction.

I do a lot of work scouting players on teams as well, and if there is someone that I dont know and they have "3.0" next to their name and we're playing them, I swear more times then not that is totally meaningless compared to how they actually play.

Meanwhile there are plenty of weak 3.5 players out there that just dont win.

North
05-08-2009, 02:07 PM
A 4.5 does not want to come out to a match and see a 3.5 across the court.

He (or she) does if "playing down" (is that the correct euphemism for sandbagging?) on a 4.0 team - lol!

Personally, I have found the sandbagging a far more pervasive problem than people playing up - just my experience.

OrangePower
05-08-2009, 02:26 PM
He (or she) does if "playing down" (is that the correct euphemism for sandbagging?) on a 4.0 team - lol!

Personally, I have found the sandbagging a far more pervasive problem than people playing up - just my experience.

Two sides of the same coin IMO. Some people want to have their cake and eat it too - play stronger competition in order to improve, but also beat up on weaker competition for the 'glory' that comes with a winning season (or whatever). Make em choose one or the other and things get much better all around.

GeoffB
05-08-2009, 02:26 PM
Don't the tournament only ratings take account of who you beat, just like the league ratings? I suppose if tournament players are a completely different set of players, the ratings could be skewed different since you would never play against league players. It doesn't seem like that in my region (Northern). The better tournament players are also some of the better league players from my limited observation (this is at 3.5 & 4.0 though, don't know about higher than that).

I think you are right. This is another rule that can be exploited by the rating algorithm. Maybe wins in a 5.0 tournament should count as 5.0 wins even if they come against lower rated players. After all, when we get to the point where a 4.0 wins a 5.0 tournament but only faces 4.5 players, then the USTA has essentially set up a structure where the 5.0 in a tournament is essentially meaningless.

So maybe wins in tournaments or league at a particular ntrp rating should be considered wins over opponents at the minimal level for that ntrp. For instance, suppose I beat a 3.5 player in a 4.0 tournament. That would factor into my dynamic rating as a win over the weakest 4.0. I'm not sure how the algorithm works, but it seems like this could be programmed in.

Some people might say that isn't entirely fair - after all, a 3.5 who beats another 3.5 in a 4.0 tournament might get bumped up to 4.0 even though he didn't actually beat a 4.0 player. Still, it might work. For starters, registering a single win over the weakest possible 4.0 rating is unlikely to move a low or mid level 3.5 into the 4.0s - it would probably only happen for someone who is at the high 3.5 level. Furthermore, I'm not sure there's much of a basis for complaining. If you register in a 4.0 tournament, you've pretty much declared yourself willing to compete at that level. If the idea of getting "accidentally" bumped up to 4.0 fills you with fear, well then don't register in a 4.0 tournament.

This change could also greatly deter players from keeping artificially low ratings. After all, a 5.0 player might enjoy beating up on the 4.0s in team play, but only because he can also compete in tournaments at the 5.0 level. If he were forced to give up the higher level tournament competition in order to play 4.0 league, he might decide the lower rating isn't worth it.

One thing here - there are always unintended consequences. Obviously, I can't think of everything that could go wrong with the changes I just proposed, and people who are out to manipulate rules can think of every possible angle. This is why I do have some sympathy for the USTA. They could try harder, I suppose, but what do you when a small but notable minority of players actively undermines the rules that are intended to be inclusive while ensuring competitive matches? It's very, very difficult to build a system that can't be hacked, especially when the idea is to be inclusive.

larry10s
05-08-2009, 05:19 PM
Sorry but this is not a good example. Nadal's motivation for playing is completely different to my motivation for playing.

For Nadal this is a career, and he makes money by winning. So he would be happy with easy wins.

For me, the motivation is enjoying the tennis and getting a workout. Sure I want to win, but there is no real reward for winning other than the satisfaction of having played well. If I'm playing players well below my level then there is no enjoyment and no satisfaction. And I'm sure stronger players would feel the same about playing me :-)

Larry, maybe you are stong enough to play in tournaments that offer significant prize money, in which case I would see your point. But this is not the case for me or for most of the posters here.first let me say i am not strong enough to play for prize money. after 7 years just getting into 4.0 towards 4.5. worked very hard on technique and devoured all info i could. if tennis was a multiple choice test might be 6.5 IMHO LOL . but still in tournaments you are there to win. throw me to whomever i do my best .an easy win is ok. i play up most of the time so i am used to playing against the current so to speak . its refreshing to see my good shots give short balls that i can consistenely finish the point on. instead of a good shot barely phasing the better player and he returns it and puts me on defense.
( but that keeps pushing me to have to hit a heavier ball)

larry10s
05-08-2009, 05:29 PM
orangepower if you are trying to improve then i assume you take lessons practice on your own or with a hitting partner and play in non tournament situations. you non tournament playing is there for you to set up the match you want up/ down/even. in each case sinario you have your priorities . when playing down i try to run around my forehand to work on my backhand. my backhand topspin instead of chip backhand return of serve. my kick serve .i may hit all balls to there forehand so i get a ball to return. i work on my weaknesses . if i lose and they think they are better its ok. playing even and up i try to find the winning strategy and use it. for example. in tournament im there for the trophy not for my improvement or quality of match. deep down i hope im tested to prove i deserve the trophy

OrangePower
05-08-2009, 06:47 PM
orangepower if you are trying to improve then i assume you take lessons practice on your own or with a hitting partner and play in non tournament situations. you non tournament playing is there for you to set up the match you want up/ down/even. in each case sinario you have your priorities . when playing down i try to run around my forehand to work on my backhand. my backhand topspin instead of chip backhand return of serve. my kick serve .i may hit all balls to there forehand so i get a ball to return. i work on my weaknesses . if i lose and they think they are better its ok. playing even and up i try to find the winning strategy and use it. for example. in tournament im there for the trophy not for my improvement or quality of match. deep down i hope im tested to prove i deserve the trophy

That makes it sounds like you've changed your mind and that now you're agreeing with me :-)

Beating players playing up is not a test. Since you are a 4.5, would you get any satisfaction out of winning a tournament when all the players you beat were 3.0s? What does the trophy by itself mean?

Don't mean to be critical of your motivation - as long as what you're doing works for you, that's great. For me though, I want to have good matches as part of my tournament experience. Otherwise it's not worth the entry fee.

larry10s
05-09-2009, 03:40 AM
not 4.5 yet. no question a hard fought victory is more rewarding. i can get all the tough matches at the club because the better players see my desire to improve, how hard i am working on improving, so they will "humor " me and play me a match sacrificing a saturday morning every so many months. there are enough of them i know, that i can play up, get creamed, see how i do, and measure it to the last time to have a barometer for how im doing. i dont choise tournies with weak fields to have a trophy collection. i do want a challenge. but its out of my hands picking the competition at a tourney. if i know a field is particularly weak i would probably skip since my time to play is limited (got a job) and i would rather be getting creamed. thats more productive time on the court!!!! so we do agree that a we want to do things the hard way ie. earn it. but in a tournament when the competition is out of your control a win is a win.

Hokiez
05-21-2009, 05:26 PM
Another night, another 3.5 playing up at 4.0 where they shouldn't be, at #1 singles no less (this was his captain's fault - they stacked). How about this for a solution - to play up, you should have to have a 75% winning record at your NTRP before being allowed to play up a level. I left my wife and 1 week old son to go get some exercise in anticipation of a good match and instead had this. So I'm out a can of balls, $5 in gas + 2 hours of time all so someone could work on their game. His record in 2008 was 0-3 at 3.5 singles, 2-3 so far this year and 0-3 at 4.0. Why play up?

Cindysphinx
05-21-2009, 06:23 PM
Another night, another 3.5 playing up at 4.0 where they shouldn't be, at #1 singles no less (this was his captain's fault - they stacked). How about this for a solution - to play up, you should have to have a 75% winning record at your NTRP before being allowed to play up a level. I left my wife and 1 week old son to go get some exercise in anticipation of a good match and instead had this. So I'm out a can of balls, $5 in gas + 2 hours of time all so someone could work on their game. His record in 2008 was 0-3 at 3.5 singles, 2-3 so far this year and 0-3 at 4.0. Why play up?

Aw, come on. Cut me a break! :)

What was the score of your match? Was it competitive at all?

I have a losing record at 3.5, but I'm doing OK at 4.0. I really think I am ready to play up. My matches have been competitive. With 3.5 partners, I am 0-3 at 4.0, but we have won 7-9 games each time and had two set tiebreaks.

Now, our poor little 4.0 team has only two 4.0 players and the rest are 3.5 (except the one 3.0). If I had a 4.0 partner, we might even be winning. It might be overkill to let someone's losing record at the lower level hold them back, especially since there are lots of reasons you can lose at doubles even if you play well.

raiden031
05-22-2009, 02:20 AM
Another night, another 3.5 playing up at 4.0 where they shouldn't be, at #1 singles no less (this was his captain's fault - they stacked). How about this for a solution - to play up, you should have to have a 75% winning record at your NTRP before being allowed to play up a level. I left my wife and 1 week old son to go get some exercise in anticipation of a good match and instead had this. So I'm out a can of balls, $5 in gas + 2 hours of time all so someone could work on their game. His record in 2008 was 0-3 at 3.5 singles, 2-3 so far this year and 0-3 at 4.0. Why play up?

Bragging rights, of course! No, I think you have a good point. I think it is pretty straightforward when you're talking about singles, although doubles is different because you are often stuck with partners who drag down your results. While I wouldn't necessarily use 2008 as a gauge for how 2009 will be, because he could have improved a lot over the months and discovered that he is now competitive with 4.0s, but if he still isn't dominating most 3.5s, I don't see a good reason to play up. As much as I want to be a 4.5, there is no way in hell I would play up anytime soon. Its time to move up when the current level is no longer a challenge.

This is my first year as a 4.0 bump up and I have struggled a bit playing singles at-level, and feel the need to provide competitive matches to my opponents to make it fun for them. I keep finding myself put at #1 singles against strong teams, and I don't know why this keeps happening, except maybe because my teams don't have that many better singles players to choose from.

Several days ago I played singles against the #1 team in the league and was against one of their top players. I started off miserably and lost the first set 6-1. The whole set I felt like I was wasting the guy's time and I was embarrassed by my playing against him. Then things started to get better the second set, which I lost 6-3. I was definitely thinking about what expectations he might have in a league match, and whether he was wishing he had a better opponent. At the end surprisingly he had all these good things to say about me and how I was a tough opponent.

Hokiez
05-22-2009, 04:40 AM
Bragging rights, of course! No, I think you have a good point. I think it is pretty straightforward when you're talking about singles, although doubles is different because you are often stuck with partners who drag down your results. While I wouldn't necessarily use 2008 as a gauge for how 2009 will be, because he could have improved a lot over the months and discovered that he is now competitive with 4.0s, but if he still isn't dominating most 3.5s, I don't see a good reason to play up. As much as I want to be a 4.5, there is no way in hell I would play up anytime soon. Its time to move up when the current level is no longer a challenge.

This is my first year as a 4.0 bump up and I have struggled a bit playing singles at-level, and feel the need to provide competitive matches to my opponents to make it fun for them. I keep finding myself put at #1 singles against strong teams, and I don't know why this keeps happening, except maybe because my teams don't have that many better singles players to choose from.

Several days ago I played singles against the #1 team in the league and was against one of their top players. I started off miserably and lost the first set 6-1. The whole set I felt like I was wasting the guy's time and I was embarrassed by my playing against him. Then things started to get better the second set, which I lost 6-3. I was definitely thinking about what expectations he might have in a league match, and whether he was wishing he had a better opponent. At the end surprisingly he had all these good things to say about me and how I was a tough opponent.

Exactly, doubles is a different story in my book since as you said, you can get paired with all manner of partners, some good, some terrible and you can mask significant game deficiencies in 3.5/4.0 doubles. IE if you don't have a backhand, you can play the forehand side and your partner can get 75% of the balls that you would normally have to hit on that wing. You can't really hide things in singles, particularly as levels go up. If you have no backhand for instance, the better the player, the more they will exploit this weakness. Playing up will only make it significantly worse.

Cindysphinx
05-22-2009, 04:47 AM
Exactly, doubles is a different story in my book since as you said, you can get paired with all manner of partners, some good, some terrible and you can mask significant game deficiencies in 3.5/4.0 doubles. IE if you don't have a backhand, you can play the forehand side and your partner can get 75% of the balls that you would normally have to hit on that wing. You can't really hide things in singles, particularly as levels go up. If you have no backhand for instance, the better the player, the more they will exploit this weakness. Playing up will only make it significantly worse.

But what was the score of your match?

OrangePower
05-22-2009, 04:01 PM
Another night, another 3.5 playing up at 4.0 where they shouldn't be, at #1 singles no less (this was his captain's fault - they stacked). How about this for a solution - to play up, you should have to have a 75% winning record at your NTRP before being allowed to play up a level. I left my wife and 1 week old son to go get some exercise in anticipation of a good match and instead had this. So I'm out a can of balls, $5 in gas + 2 hours of time all so someone could work on their game. His record in 2008 was 0-3 at 3.5 singles, 2-3 so far this year and 0-3 at 4.0. Why play up?

Aw, come on. Cut me a break! :)

What was the score of your match? Was it competitive at all?




I had a similar experience last weekend. I played a 4.0 singles match against an average 3.5 playing up. The match lasted 45 mins including a 5-10 min warmup. Final score was 6-0, 6-1. The one game I lost was on my serve, after (through sheer boredom) I had started just blasting every serve both 1st and 2nd, and I made 4 double faults.

I'm a strongish 4.0 but no super-stud, so the score is more a reflection of the other guy's weakness than of my strength. Truly a waste of everyone's time. I don't think he got much out of it either. He was very apologetic at the end.

Hokiez
05-22-2009, 05:14 PM
But what was the score of your match?

6-1 6-0 - he won his first service game after multiple deuces. I won the next 11 games.

Cindysphinx
05-22-2009, 05:30 PM
6-1 6-0 - he won his first service game after multiple deuces. I won the next 11 games.

Ouch. OK. Point taken.

Hey, I got pounded with that exact same scoreline -- including the ability to hold only in my first service game -- when the computer moved me from 2.5 to 3.0.

My computer-rated 3.0 opponent probably wondered why I had wasted her time also. :)

Hokiez
06-26-2009, 05:38 PM
I had another one last night, fortunately I didn't have to play him. This person refuses to play 3.5 despite being a 3.5. He will only play 4.0. His record below:

NTRP - 3.5
2004 - 3-3 @ 3.5
2005 - 0-6 @ 4.0
2006 - N/A
2007 - 0-6 @ 4.0
2008 - 0-5 @ 4.0
2009 - 0-10 @ 4.0

If you are that uncompetitive, I still think you shouldn't be allowed to play up. He had one 3 set match (he lost) against another 3.5 playing up. He's averaged winning 3 games/match.

raiden031
06-27-2009, 08:20 AM
I had another one last night, fortunately I didn't have to play him. This person refuses to play 3.5 despite being a 3.5. He will only play 4.0. His record below:

NTRP - 3.5
2004 - 3-3 @ 3.5
2005 - 0-6 @ 4.0
2006 - N/A
2007 - 0-6 @ 4.0
2008 - 0-5 @ 4.0
2009 - 0-10 @ 4.0

If you are that uncompetitive, I still think you shouldn't be allowed to play up. He had one 3 set match (he lost) against another 3.5 playing up. He's averaged winning 3 games/match.

Wow this guy is really stubborn. This just shows that playing against better players doesn't automatically make you a better player.

Cindysphinx
06-28-2009, 05:07 AM
Wow this guy is really stubborn. This just shows that playing against better players doesn't automatically make you a better player.

Amen to that.

There is a player I know who is playing up. She played five singles matches. She won a total of six games in those five matches. Yes, you read that correctly. Six games. That leaves you with six bagels and three breadstick sets in five matches. And no, there was not an upward trend. Why anyone thinks it is helpful to spray the ball around and watch it fly by them is beyond me.

raiden031
06-28-2009, 07:15 AM
Amen to that.

There is a player I know who is playing up. She played five singles matches. She won a total of six games in those five matches. Yes, you read that correctly. Six games. That leaves you with six bagels and three breadstick sets in five matches. And no, there was not an upward trend. Why anyone thinks it is helpful to spray the ball around and watch it fly by them is beyond them.

I know exactly who you are talking about...LOL. I've hit with this player before. Nice person, but not quite ready for the big leagues.

SlapShot
06-29-2009, 08:29 AM
The USTA Northern has a 1-level rule. Essentially, you can play up 1 NTRP level, and risk a penalty (a temporary ban, IIRC) if you play up more than that knowing that the rule is in place.

I know that I'm the exception to the rule, but playing up made me a much better player all-around. My first season at 4.0 was last summer, and I was about .500 (playing #3 and #2 doubles). I diagnosed what needed to be fixed, and made the small changes, and the next season, I went 7-3 or something similar (playing #2 and #1 doubles). This summer is my third season, and so far, I'm 5-1 (playing #1 doubles and #2 singles).

I truly feel that without playing up, I would not have done the amount of work that I have in order to be ready to play at a higher level.

If I were to play 3.5 again, two things would happen:

1. I would be bored to tears

2. My opponent would feel cheated for playing a "ringer"

Neither of these sound particularly fun to me.

raiden031
06-29-2009, 08:40 AM
The USTA Northern has a 1-level rule. Essentially, you can play up 1 NTRP level, and risk a penalty (a temporary ban, IIRC) if you play up more than that knowing that the rule is in place.

I know that I'm the exception to the rule, but playing up made me a much better player all-around. My first season at 4.0 was last summer, and I was about .500 (playing #3 and #2 doubles). I diagnosed what needed to be fixed, and made the small changes, and the next season, I went 7-3 or something similar (playing #2 and #1 doubles). This summer is my third season, and so far, I'm 5-1 (playing #1 doubles and #2 singles).

I truly feel that without playing up, I would not have done the amount of work that I have in order to be ready to play at a higher level.

If I were to play 3.5 again, two things would happen:

1. I would be bored to tears

2. My opponent would feel cheated for playing a "ringer"

Neither of these sound particularly fun to me.

If you were unable to win much at 3.5, do you still think playing at 4.0 would be the best thing for you?

I believe people should play at the level in which they are most competitive, and if they can hang at the next level, then do that too. But if they can't hang, then they are wasting others' time.

SlapShot
06-29-2009, 08:50 AM
If you were unable to win much at 3.5, do you still think playing at 4.0 would be the best thing for you?

I believe people should play at the level in which they are most competitive, and if they can hang at the next level, then do that too. But if they can't hang, then they are wasting others' time.

The funny thing is, when I played 3.5 doubles, I actually had a worse winning % due to being saddled with a partner that wasn't able to actually play doubles and as a result, had to do more than was necessary just to win matches. I joined this 3.5 team to play singles, and played one singles match in the midst of allergy season, and it was the one match that we played outdoors that season. Needless to say, that didn't go well.

So....my record at 4.0 is actually better than my record at 3.5, but I wonder how my 3.5 record would be now - it's been more than a year since I played any 3.5 league tennis. (well...actually, I played on a 3.5 tri-level team this spring, and actually lost a match to a self-rated 3.5 and a 3.5 who plays only 4.0...and wins ~60% of his matches there).

nousername
06-29-2009, 09:59 AM
The USTA Northern has a 1-level rule. Essentially, you can play up 1 NTRP level, and risk a penalty (a temporary ban, IIRC) if you play up more than that knowing that the rule is in place.

I know that I'm the exception to the rule, but playing up made me a much better player all-around. My first season at 4.0 was last summer, and I was about .500 (playing #3 and #2 doubles). I diagnosed what needed to be fixed, and made the small changes, and the next season, I went 7-3 or something similar (playing #2 and #1 doubles). This summer is my third season, and so far, I'm 5-1 (playing #1 doubles and #2 singles).

I truly feel that without playing up, I would not have done the amount of work that I have in order to be ready to play at a higher level.

If I were to play 3.5 again, two things would happen:

1. I would be bored to tears

2. My opponent would feel cheated for playing a "ringer"

Neither of these sound particularly fun to me.
what?? is that why you never took me up on the offer to play? i'd bore you?

... or were you talking specifically about doubles, since that is mostly what you play at 4.0?

on one hand i understand your comment and know where you are coming from, BUT ....

don't you think singles and doubles are wholly different ballgames?

like you said doubles is highly partner dependent ... although it goes both ways: you say at 3.5 you were stuck with a "bad" partner, but isn't that true at 4.0 too? perhaps you have really solid 4.0 partners???? also, i see two 4.0 singles wins on your record, and one looked close and the other was to a dude who has never won a 4.0 singles league match his whole USTA career (like 5 years or more, don't know how he's kept his 4.0 rating so long).

i'm NOT trying to deny your abilities, your 4.0 doubles record is impressive and speaks for itself. it's just that your comments about 3.5 seems a little "extreme" ... esp with respect to singles play and since you have only "pseudo"-graduated from the 3.5 level.

with that ...my offer still stands ... this week is good if you have time. after lunch today, i got half a day and then no work till next monday!

SlapShot
06-29-2009, 10:38 AM
what?? is that why you never took me up on the offer to play? i'd bore you?

... or were you talking specifically about doubles, since that is mostly what you play at 4.0?

on one hand i understand your comment and know where you are coming from, BUT ....

don't you think singles and doubles are wholly different ballgames?

like you said doubles is highly partner dependent ... although it goes both ways: you say at 3.5 you were stuck with a "bad" partner, but isn't that true at 4.0 too? perhaps you have really solid 4.0 partners???? also, i see two 4.0 singles wins on your record, and one looked close and the other was to a dude who has never won a 4.0 singles league match his whole USTA career (like 5 years or more, don't know how he's kept his 4.0 rating so long).

i'm NOT trying to deny your abilities, your 4.0 doubles record is impressive and speaks for itself. it's just that your comments about 3.5 seems a little "extreme" ... esp with respect to singles play and since you have only "pseudo"-graduated from the 3.5 level.

with that ...my offer still stands ... this week is good if you have time. after lunch today, i got half a day and then no work till next monday!

Our schedules never seemed to line up to play - I remember that you were an early morning person, and I usually have to be in the office somewhat early, precluding us heading out and hitting.

Singles and doubles are completely different games, and my doubles is definitely a step ahead of my singles at this point in time, but as people who have hit with me in the past 3-4 months will attest, my singles has improved leaps and bounds, and is well within the 4.0 realm as well. My usual partner and I also happen to play very well together, as we tend to cover the other person's weakness (he has amazing hands and covers the net tremendously well and I can move much more quickly than he can to cover more court).

I'll drop you an e-mail - I'm hoping to get some hitting in this week. I work through Wednesday, but am wide open Thursday.

MNPlayer
06-29-2009, 11:09 AM
what?? is that why you never took me up on the offer to play? i'd bore you?

... or were you talking specifically about doubles, since that is mostly what you play at 4.0?

on one hand i understand your comment and know where you are coming from, BUT ....

don't you think singles and doubles are wholly different ballgames?

like you said doubles is highly partner dependent ... although it goes both ways: you say at 3.5 you were stuck with a "bad" partner, but isn't that true at 4.0 too? perhaps you have really solid 4.0 partners???? also, i see two 4.0 singles wins on your record, and one looked close and the other was to a dude who has never won a 4.0 singles league match his whole USTA career (like 5 years or more, don't know how he's kept his 4.0 rating so long).

i'm NOT trying to deny your abilities, your 4.0 doubles record is impressive and speaks for itself. it's just that your comments about 3.5 seems a little "extreme" ... esp with respect to singles play and since you have only "pseudo"-graduated from the 3.5 level.

with that ...my offer still stands ... this week is good if you have time. after lunch today, i got half a day and then no work till next monday!

I agree singles and doubles are a different story. I also play 4.0 doubles with various partners and generally do fine (5-2 for the season). I also play #1 singles at 3.5 and have had a number of tough matches this season, for a record of 3-1. Never once have I been bored! I bet the top 3.5 guys would be competitive with at least the lower 25% of 4.0 guys in singles.

This is one nice thing about playing 2 levels - I get to play up in doubles where but still play competitively in singles where I need more practice.

SuperJimmy
06-29-2009, 12:56 PM
I think playing up should be allowed. But I agree that playing up more than one level should be discouraged. In some cases it can be beneficial. Sometimes a tournament director will call someone up to see if they can play in the draw, even if it is way out of their league. They do this to make the draw "work". It isn't really the player's fault for accepting. It is pretty unfortunate sometimes when someone two or more levels down enters the same draw as you, and due to the size, causes you to have to play twice on Friday evening instead of once like most the rest of the draw.

Going by score I dont think is a good measure to decide if something was competitive. I've at 6-2, 6-2 matches last far longer and were much "harder" than 7-5, 4-6, 10-7 matches. On the extreme end, I've also had a match where I lost 6-0,6-1, but had many deuces and an extremely sore arm (due to being an idiot and letting the nurse draw several tubes of blood from the elbow of my dominant arm just hours earlier). On paper, I got killed...but based on the circumstances and how the points went in general, it easily would/could have looked far more competitive on paper.