Game the system or stop playing USTA?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by NE1for10is?, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. NE1for10is?

    NE1for10is? Semi-Pro

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    I just started playing USTA last fall on a 3.5 team. When I started I thought, 'Wow, these guys are really good.' And indeed, each time we go to the regional playoffs we go without a single loss in the regular season. And yet, each time we go to the playoffs we meet the same team and not only do we get swept, but we don't even win a set.

    I played 1st doubles yesterday at regionals and then districts (since we keep meeting the same team in regionals we also got to district playoffs against this team). One of the players I played against was clearly at least 4.0 or better. He was aceing us and ripping winners everywhere. If he is 3.5, I am the Pope. The match wasn't even competitive. Our team got swept again 5-0 and we didn't win a set. Again.

    I have played in other non USTA international tournaments where they have roving officials, who have the authority to disqualify anyone whom they deem to be intentionally playing below their level. So after the match I talked to the district coordinator about it.

    The district coordinator said basically (at least as I understood it) that anyone who wins a lot by huge score disparities will start getting strikes against them and either eventually get bumped up to 4.0 or might even get retroactively disqualified. (Did I get this right?) Well, in any case it doesn't matter, the damage is done.

    At the time I thought that they had recruited a self rated player who plays below his level just for the playoffs, however when I got home I looked up the history on TennisLink for this player and he does have a long match record, but most of his matches for many seasons looks like a bakery: bagels and breadsticks (6-0, 6-0 or 6-1, 6-1 etc.) except every fifth match or so he has a third set loss. So why hasn't he been bumped up to 4.0?

    Their captain is all about gaming the system and winning at all costs, and even drives 50 miles to our matches to scout us. Ok, whatever. At first I thought that he issue is that they use players that are clearly not 3.5 players, but playing below their level, but now I have come to wonder why there's such a large disparity in ratings between divisions. Our 4.0 is their 3.5.

    So, I spent all weekend, a lot of time driving to the ends of the earth, and a lot of money going to these playoffs only to get swept and not even have a competetive match.

    So, the options are to start gaming the system like they do and recruit 4.0 players who somehow still play 3.5, or stop playing USTA. I consider myself an honest, ethical person, and I like to think that karma, both positive and negative, comes back to you in the end, so gaming the system is not an option for me, and I think the team feels the same way. It's unfortunate, because I enjoy playing during the regular season.

    Thanks for letting me vent on this. I would value your comments.
     
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  2. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

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    There is a third option. Just have fun playing tennis and if you don't get the almighty 3.5 golden pen because your sandbaggers aren't sandbaggy enough, then so be it.
     
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  3. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    4th option - improve your game. Start working hard on fitness and tennis and get yourself to a 4.0 level while still rated 3.5
     
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  4. TennisDawg

    TennisDawg Semi-Pro

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    Sounds like another not so good USTA League experience. Me, strictly me speaking, I would bag the USTA League. Since, I did 7 years ago, I find I enjoy tennis a whole lot more. I have entered non-USTA Leagues and Tournaments and have had more fun. I play NTRP rated players and non-rated players and their is no difference. Just a that one has a number assigned to them the other no number, no big deal to me.
     
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  5. NE1for10is?

    NE1for10is? Semi-Pro

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    I have been working regularly at fitness and am fitter than I have been in years, and like most people I'm always trying to improve my skill level, and have in fact quite a lot this past year. Nothing would make me happier than be good enough to get bumped up to 4.0.

    I do have fun during the regular season, but it's not much fun getting routed on an unlevel playing field during the playoffs. I could care less about a pin or trophy. I just want to play good tennis. Maybe another solution is play the regular season and just don't bother with the playoffs until they put the other team at 4.0.

    I guess my question is more about the skill level that the USTA allows between teams and divisions. Can the other team's player's levels be officially challenged or questioned?
     
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  6. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    When I read your OP I was going to suggest exactly this - then I saw you thought of it already!

    Enjoy the regular season, get your money's worth that way, and leave it at that. Just tell your captain ahead of time that you're not available for districts etc so that he's not counting on you.
     
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  7. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

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    So you only want to play against people you can beat? What kind of attitude is that? I'd love a chance to play against the higher competition at regionals. It sounds like you're team isn't the very best at your level and you're a little bitter about it.

    You can challenge self-rated players, but only for violations of the guidelines, not just for being too good. In other words, if a player is under 35 and played on a D3 varsity team, he has to rate at 4.5. If you know a player played in college and think he lied on his self-rating evaluation to get a self-rating lower than 4.5, you can challenge that. If you challenge a guy and tell the section he's too good without some other justification, the challenge will be denied and you'll be told the computer will catch him if he's too good.
     
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  8. dcdoorknob

    dcdoorknob Hall of Fame

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    So, basically, you're winning more than 90+% of all the teams in USTA. Honestly it's a bit hard for me to feel too much sympathy. Maybe some of the teams that don't seem to have a chance of beating your team could make a very similar post to the one you just made, except they get a few matches less and no chance at any post-season.
     
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  9. TENNIS4FUN2

    TENNIS4FUN2 New User

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    To me, the size of the area you are playing in has a big effect on your win/loss record in the levels above local league. If you play in an area without a huge depth of talent, you may win consistently simply because you aren't being challenged. As you move up to the state level, there will be areas represented that have a more active tennis community and those teams have had to beat a higher level of player to advance, so they have an advantage over you from the beginning. Could this have something to do with why you are winning so much locally than getting beat once you advance.
     
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  10. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    The answer to this and pretty much every gripe is the same: Get better.
     
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  11. TeflonTom

    TeflonTom Banned

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    so basically, ur problem is that there r other ppl sandbagging better than ur team
     
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  12. chatt_town

    chatt_town Hall of Fame

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    This is an interesting subject. I was fortunate enough to have won the state at 3.0 probably about 6 to 8 months after starting to play tennis. We had a group of guys that had all came from different sports and picked the game up mostly within a month or two. We had 12 guys on the roster..maybe 13. I just remember that we had like 8 guys that played singles and we one so called ringer(he was clearly better than the rest of us and had been playing). He was at the time probably a good 3.5 player and none of us could beat him. So he always played line 1 singles. We'd then put one of the other 8 guys that played singles at line 2 and then myself and another guy played line 1 doubles(I was probably our second best singles player but me and the guy I played with never lost at doubles). We filled in line 2 and 3 doubles with whoever.lol The ringer if you will got d'qed. They explained to us he had gotten 3 strikes. 2 of them were for beating the same guy twice at the local level. He got his third in our first state match. The thing was they didn't dq him until after we won the state. They send an email to our captain the Monday that we returned from State.

    When I repeatedly asked the woman why they allowed him to keep playing if they knew he was dq'ed...she couldn't answer. I told her that made no sense as we didn't know who else may have had strikes before going to sectionals. We weren't about to spend that kind of money getting hotels and using vacation days only to get to sectionals and find out that 4 or 5 other players could be dq'ed depending on how many strikes you had.

    I've also seen where like two women's teams get together and decide who is going to win GA and who would win chattanooga before they play. They would put all the scores in 4 and 4 to keep anyone from getting dq'ed. I told my wife to stop playing singles for them because once they got to state....many of them would intentionally lose matches and my wife was busting @$$ trying to win. The whole team was weird at times. lol
     
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  13. West Coast Ace

    West Coast Ace G.O.A.T.

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    Well said. For all we know the teams they beat in the regular season think the OP is a sandbagger - and he is - but when he gets to the playoffs he just meets bigger, better sandbaggers.

    So you have fun 95+ percent of the time. Sounds like you should keep playing. If you really can't stand losing to a better team that MIGHT (you offered no real proof - e.g. a player who was found to have self-rated down after being higher in previous years), just forfeit the playoffs next year; don't show up.
     
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  14. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    Sounds like lack of competitive experience in life.

    People seem to think tennis league is any different than any other competitive situation. If you play ANY sport with some arbitrary rating system you will encounter this.

    Common theme: "I lost, they must be sandbaggers, just READ NTRP GUIDELINES." LOL
     
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  15. NE1for10is?

    NE1for10is? Semi-Pro

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    Well, as it turns out 15 of the players from that team got bumped up to 4.0. Pretty much the entire team, including the captain. So, I guess the USTA police showed up after all.
     
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  16. West Coast Ace

    West Coast Ace G.O.A.T.

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    And we shouldn't think your team has a few sandbaggers since you admit to multiple undefeated seasons? Sorry, that doesn't pass the smell test. What do the teams you beat every year think?

    As someone else suggested, if you can really look yourself in the mirror and believe that you are rating your team properly, then forfeit. Or stop playing the league and take the players you do have an run ladders, mini-tournaments, etc. And let the USTA know why.
     
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  17. NE1for10is?

    NE1for10is? Semi-Pro

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    Four of our players got bumped up too, and three the year before. I don't think there are sandbaggers on our team.
     
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  18. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    I just love it when a sandbagging team complains about another sandbagging team...

    If you have 3 or 4 guys getting bumped up EVERY YEAR (especially if they are self-rated), you are by definition, sandbagging. (by comparison, my 3.5 team has had a TOTAL of 2 guys getting bumped up over 4 years - and none self-rated).

    Seriously, if you like playing tennis, then enjoy just playing tennis. Playing in "playoffs" is not about tennis, it is just about egos.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2012
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  19. chatt_town

    chatt_town Hall of Fame

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    I think you need to ask yourself how well do you want to compete. If you want to compete at state and secitional levels then you need to by all means sandbag and get a few ringers. I haven't seen a team yet that won state at any level that didn't have sandbaggers.


     
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  20. samarai

    samarai Rookie

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    Every team that enter leagues probably has recruited a couple of sandbaggers, just how good of a sandbagger you have remains to be determined. I played for the first time in the league last year and clearly on my team there were players rated .5-1 levels above what we were playing. I know this because I have played with these people for couple of year and were aware of there abilities. In matches you can tell they were just on cruise control until absolutely necessary. When we got to state, I got to hear how our captain kept complaining how the other team makes it ever year and that they had better sandbaggers then we had. It was comical. Obviously, I was playing at my level and didn't get to play state. That experience left a sour taste. Well that was the last time with that team.
     
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  21. chatt_town

    chatt_town Hall of Fame

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    Just get with some new sandbaggers if you expect to ever win state. :)


     
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  22. Sumo

    Sumo Semi-Pro

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    This should be a scrolling banner at the top of this section of TT.
    Well put.
     
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  23. chatt_town

    chatt_town Hall of Fame

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    Couldn't that<playoffs are about egos> be said for any sport at any level though?


     
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  24. bluetrain4

    bluetrain4 Legend

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    I never understood the sandbagging mindset. Seriously, going to a state, regional, or national tournament in recreational tennis is THAT big of a deal? I mean, outside of a small subset of tennis-playing friends (maybe), who would be even remotely impressed by such an accomplishment? And, how can the sandbagging player get any personal satisfaction knowing that they beat up on a bunch of weaker players? It all seems so empty and pathetic.
     
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  25. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    No. It does not apply at Open/Pro level since, you are trying to determine who the best players are.

    With artificially stratified leagues like USTA, you are not "trying to find the best", you are trying to find which team has the most players at the very top of the artificial, randomly set level. At that point, it is just about egos since it has nothing to do with "trying to find the best".
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2012
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  26. chatt_town

    chatt_town Hall of Fame

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    That is a good point. I stand corrected.

     
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  27. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    Totally agree.
     
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  28. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Why do either? Just play as hard as you can and then drink beverages afterwards. I've played on teams that went to playoffs and teams that barely won a match. Both are a good experience if you play fair and square.
     
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  29. samarai

    samarai Rookie

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    Unfortunately, that's not the mindset of the captains recruiting for these leagues, at least in the area that I play. My first experience last year playing leagues left a sour taste. Not what I had hoped to sign up for. That's the reason I refused the offer to join league this year.
     
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  30. goober

    goober Legend

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    Apparently it is a big deal or people wouldn't keep doing it. Sure it is pathetic, but maybe their lives are so empty that is all they have to live for? I remember one of the captains who is the most egregious in manipulating and gaming the system had a small blurb written up about him on the local USTA website. They wrote about how great of a captain he was for taking all these different teams to sectionals/nationals. I remember not feeling respect for the guy but sorrow. He probably doesn't even realize most of the other captains don't like him or respect him and that nobody really cares about all his recreational tennis accomplishments.

    At the end of the day people remember you for what kind of person you were not whether you were a 3.5 or 4.5 level player. If you cheat, manipulate and game every situation that is what people will remember.
     
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  31. chatt_town

    chatt_town Hall of Fame

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    You are so right about that...every word you said. I told my wife this years back when we were relatively new to the sport. Some fools had told her only to play with people that could play to get better...which made no sense to me. What if everyone thought like that. Why should some other person play with you? My theory is that it is rec tennis. None of us are going anywhere. The captains that always take teams to state or sectionals are the most hated locally because they recruit and get all the so call better players and crush the hell out of all the other local teams. I don't agree with it but the truth is it's apart of the system. You will not win at state level if you don't have a sandbagging team because that's how the other teams make it out of their respective cities. So you go to state to see who's sandbaggers are the best. We had a bunch of athletes when we played 3.0. We didn't know anything about levels at the time and didn't really know to think if we were playing against so called better players. I look back on it and the team from Memphis clearly had 4.0 players on it. They had massive kick serves that we had never seen. Problem for them was they weren't use to a bunch of guys throwing up lobs and running their overheads down into the next court or jumping up on the fence digging them out(we really did that and it was fun).lol Memphis had and still does have a reputation for being the best at sandbagging at all levels...but we got them that year. It's gotten so bad now that cities that are close are trying to combine teams just be able to compete with them. lol


     
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  32. NE1for10is?

    NE1for10is? Semi-Pro

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    If this were true then it would apply for USTA tournaments too, which would be a kind of sorry view of the recreational tennis world. I'm sure some do play tournaments and go to team playoffs for their own egos, but I'm sure many more just like to compete and challenge themselves, and of course just to have fun.
     
    #32
  33. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    Funny thing about tournaments is that there is hardly any sandbagging. There are FAR more players playing up than playing down. There are some, but it is nothing like it is in team leagues.

    I think this just shows that playoffs is too much motivation for people to game the system.
     
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  34. chatt_town

    chatt_town Hall of Fame

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    Tournaments just until a few years ago was used by players to get their rating lowered. They'd go to a usta tourney and lose 0 and 0 or 1 and 1. USTA stopped using those tourneys towards ratings because of this.


     
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  35. Cruzer

    Cruzer Professional

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    To the OP,

    You have not been playing USTA tennis long enough to have had sufficient experience with all the different personalities you run into and the fact that not all leagues and areas are of the same playing skill evven though they may have the same USTA rating.
    It is nice and more fun to win than lose but unless you have very strong team and win all your matches losing very few sets you have to expect that by the time you get to district or sectional playoffs the matches are probably going to be much harder than any of your local league matches. I have been to district and sectional playoffs a few times (never made it to nationals) and have lost to players that were clearly better but since I know how USTA league tennis works I don't get upset about it.
    Unless you are fixated on being on a team that gets to the national playoffs just enjoy the tennis and work to get as good as you can be.
     
    #35
  36. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    ^^^^ Best piece of advice.

    Most matches will be competitive. Actually your least competitive matches during the regular season are more likely to be vs lower-rated players playing up, rather than vs sandbaggers that you can't hang with.
     
    #36
  37. rainman007

    rainman007 Rookie

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    your first sentence quotes "we go each season without a loss" You feel the same way about your state opponents as your regular season opponents feel about you
     
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  38. NE1for10is?

    NE1for10is? Semi-Pro

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    I disagree completely. Most of the matches were competetive during the regular season. Almost all of the matches I had last year, for example, ended in third set tiebreaks. Many of the team's victories hung in the balance with everybody from both teams watching and cheering the last deciding match. The team comradrie is something that I had not experienced before that I really enjoy about team tennis. Although we the team was undefeated, individually we lost many matches and many sets.

    On the other hand, at district level playoffs, four times in a row, the same team we played beat us 5-0 every time without dropping a set, and mostly beatdowns without being at all competetive.

    At least playing such a dominating team in the playoffs gave me a goal as to how I need to play to eventually move up to 4.0. One of my goals this year's regular season is to improve enough to play harder and not wind up in third set tiebreaks all the time.
     
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  39. F L O B B E R

    F L O B B E R Rookie

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    USTA league tennis can be fun as long as you focus on the "regular" season where, over time, u play against the same people and develop new friendships and good competition.

    USTA playoffs are a waste of time where it's all about who has the better sandbaggers on their team. Teams that make it to Nationals should all pose with sandbags over their heads in their team pics.
     
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  40. Setmatch45

    Setmatch45 Rookie

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    "DON'T HATE THE PLAYER HATE THE GAME" Two schools of thought in the league's play with freinds have fun or play on a playoff team and try to go to nationals. I side on the way of plan to. I do see arguments for both.
     
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  41. jmverdugo

    jmverdugo Hall of Fame

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    Sometimes, is not that the other guys are "sandbaggers" sometimes you are just not good enough, at least at the 4.0 level the gap is huge between the low 4.0s and the high 4.0s, and it is very usual that when the first get to play with the second there are some "sandbagging" comments.

    It happened to me on my past league match, we were playing line 3, I am a decent 4.0 and my partner too, the other guys were low 4.0s and they kept talking between each other (loud enough so we could hear it) and they kept saying "it's ok we lost that point, they are 4.5s".

    There are other cases where the computer keeps bumping up a guy to 4.5 by mid season, he gets creamed at 4.5 and then is bumped down to 4.0 where he wins every match, although I think this last case is more about the guy getting use to 4.5 pace, what I am trying to show that difference of level within a single rating point (basically the difference between good 4.0s and low 4.0s).

    I would say that a good way to measure yourself within your rating is to sign up for a big tournament, if you get your behind kicked in the first round you are probably in the low end of the spectrum, if you make it to the third round you are on the top end. Of course it also depends on you draw, but usually this is a good way to measure yourself.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2012
    #41
  42. F L O B B E R

    F L O B B E R Rookie

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    When I look at pics of National teams I don't envy them or even respect them. I assume they are a bunch of sandbagging asshats.
     
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  43. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    Our team, and me personally, have gone to and played well at sectionals for the last three years. I believe I am among those at the top of the 4.0 band and my results have shown that.

    My experiences support what jmverdugo says here. I have clobbered lower tier 4.0s in our league and they have complained that I should be up. However, against top computer rated 4.0's in our league, at districts and sectionals I am merely one of the better players ... clearly not dominant. I have never complained when a player with an established computer rating, as defined by the USTA, has beaten me ... and it has happened plenty.

    Every year at sectionals almost every match featuring computer rated players is competitive. However, what irritates the snot out of me is that the non-competitive matches almost always involve a self rated player crushing a computer rated player. Furthermore, the teams that have advanced every year come with at least a few of these self rated difference makers.

    What this tells me is that the USTA algorithm does a pretty nice job of putting players where they need to be ... but the players not vetted by the USTA throw the balance of power to captains that know how to game this system.
     
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  44. Winning Ugly

    Winning Ugly New User

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    :rolleyes:

    Too bad. Your stereotype is far from universal.

    Just got back from MS 3.5 Sr. regionals. The team which won were better than us and the other teams, but not THAT much, and clearly not sandbaggers. Some will, deservedly, move up to 4.0, as will a couple players from our team. I can vouch for the players on our team who may move up to 4.0 that they are not sandbaggers at all -- most have played MANY years at 3.5 with good but not great records. But, as a team we practice a lot, work with the club pro, and believe that even pushing 60 we can improve. As a result, some guys who never even made it to Districts until 3 years ago have participated in their second Sectionals, actually winning a few courts this time around. That is a thrill, and getting pushed to the 4.0 level, where they will probably not live long enough to see District or Sectional play, is its own reward. A few of the guys on our team went to Nationals as 3.0's 20 years ago. Now, are they sandbagging today playing 3.5? Were they azzhats then because they got the thrill of topping out at their level? Baloney...

    Talking about it afterward, we saw much of the same in the winning team. Good guys, good players who will compete OK at 4.0 when they get bumped but certainly at the low end of the band. From talking to them I could see they were about getting better and competing against the best (within reason) players they could. I RESPECT that, and there is no envy. Indeed, I will follow how they do at Nationals and wish them the best.
     
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  45. Winning Ugly

    Winning Ugly New User

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    I agree with you, having had almost the exact same experience at 3.5 (mostly Senior play) over the past 4 years. Perhaps I am even closer to the dividing line -- I got "early started" to 4.0 two years ago, but stunk at Sectionals (not vs. sandbaggers; I choked) so my final rating was 3.5.

    There are just not enough levels and so I find playing up at 4.0 on Court 3 is usually more competitive (and, for me at least, much more fun) than my Court 1 matches against bad 3.5 teams.

    I have seen some self-rated sandbaggers get DQ'd this year so by and large the system works. Now we'll see if my final computer rating stays at 4.0 since I did not stink at Sectionals this year :shock:
     
    #45

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