How big are the sandbags?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by lostinamerica, Oct 8, 2007.

  1. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Not really, since anyone who knows the rules of tennis knows that 50% of everyone who plays, will lose. We are all very familiar with losing, and do it all of the time. Losing does not require a conspiracy theory to explain itself, losing is part of tennis.

    But that wasn't the OP's question. The topic is what is going on at Nationals. Or to put it a different way: say only 2% of teams sandbag, the rest of the 98% of the teams are likely not to make it to Nationals and the 2% are. I may play local USTA tennis for a decade and never run into one of those teams, but they will be very well represented at Nationals.
     
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  2. MSL

    MSL New User

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    I completely understand the "downward pressure", but it doesn't really change anything.

    Either a person plays at the correct level or they don't. It has to start somewhere.

    -Matt
     
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  3. Jack the Hack

    Jack the Hack Hall of Fame

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    What is missing here is that Z-Man is obviously computer rated by the USTA at 4.0, or otherwise he wouldn't be able to play at that level. However, he feels that he is truly a mid-level 4.5 in reality, and based on his ability to play competitively with 5.0 rated players, it is probably true. If there were some 4.5 teams in his area, he could play up where he belongs. However, the problem, as he's describing, is the fact that the USTA lets him play at a lower level... and he's not even kicking ass there like the true sandbaggers that are actually intentionally cheating to play at that level!
     
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  4. WBF

    WBF Hall of Fame

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    I always wondered why people sandbagged.

    Do people actually enjoy playing worse players than themselves? Am I the only person who thinks it is absolutely insane to want to play someone worse than oneself? Do people enjoy bragging about being on top of crappy levels more than doing the best that they can in their own or a higher level? It's mind boggling. I have a club around here that has an informal 4.1-4.5 singles league; its really the only option for higher level tennis in the area (everyone else is either in college or somewhere I haven't found!)... I joined it because I have trouble with players don't have much power... But it is *far* from fun. I've met some interesting people, but the actual tennis is almost depressing. If I had the choice I'd play someone levels above me every single time :(
     
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  5. MSL

    MSL New User

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    The problem starts at the top. Open players play 5.5, so the 5.5 players have to play at 5.0 to be competitive, so 5.0 players have to play down at 4.5, etc, etc... So, most people are playing people at their level.

    It's the ones that manipulate the system to continue winning 4 inch tall trophies that bug me. I'm quite certain that most of them have a miniature room in their house with miniature furniture to make the trophies look normal size.

    -matt
     
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  6. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    Sometimes you win a pen instead. (I have one for 6.5 Men's Combo Mid_West Champions (we were the only flight in the whole Mid_West that year to even bother playing 6.5 combo, maybe even in the whole universe for all I know)
     
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  7. Z-Man

    Z-Man Professional

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    Exactly--I'm rated a 4.0. I was 4.5 for two years and came back down. While I was a 4.5, I played a few tournaments and won some matches, but didn't do great. At 4.0 I win most of my local league matches, but I'm barely above average at state. Occasionally, I get blown out at state by someone who is much better. If you do well at state, you're most likely a 4.5. That's pretty self-evident, right? But every year there are a few players who are clearly a level above even the best 4.0s (who are really 4.5s). It's not like it keeps me up at night. Those matches are fun--it's kind of like a pro-am.

    I'm just saying that if you want to get out of the Georgia state tournament, you'd better have three 4.5-level doubles teams and at least one unbeatable singles player (5.0 or better).
     
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  8. burosky

    burosky Professional

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    Just as NTRP levels can vary from one person's eyes to another, for me, so is sandbagging. I think the only true criteria that determines a player's NTRP level and/or if the player is sandbagging is relevant past results. I am a mid-level 4.5. I have seen the lower and upper edges of my current level. Until I saw it, it was very easy for me to make the mistake of thinking that those at the upper edges should be at the next higher level already. Granted, there will be those at the upper edges who are actually straddling the lower edge of the next level. Nevertheless, they are still not quite there.

    This is why looking at relevant past result is the only way for me. No matter how good the player is, if the player has not shown relative success in the past at the higher level, that player is playing at the appropriate level. Obviously, if you only look at results from USTA leagues and tournaments you will not see the whole picture. I bet those true sandbaggers have some kind of record playing and having success at a higher level somewhere.

    One example is a player who grew up and played in a foreign country. I have seen players even in the 4.5 level who played for their national team. Some of them even on their country's Davis Cup team. Yet, there are some who played for a club in Europe and play 4.5s here. From what I understand, "club" players in Europe are pretty much like semi-pros. Some of them even get paid to play for their club.

    It is easier for them to slip through the cracks because they don't have local records. For locals, it will be more difficult because if they are any good they will have some kind of record that can be dug up.
     
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  9. goober

    goober Legend

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    Sometimes you don't get anything.

    One time I won a small towel with the tournament, year and champion printed on it. I forgot about it until I saw my daughter washing her face with it. :p
     
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  10. amarone

    amarone Semi-Pro

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    You could always play USTA in Atlanta. The winter season is about to start and there are 22 4.5 teams.
     
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  11. Z-Man

    Z-Man Professional

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    I was lucky to get onto an ALTA team in Newnan--30min away. I don't know anyone in Atlanta with a 4.5 team, and I can guarantee you nobody who has a 4.5 team is looking to add someone who won't win more than half of his matches. Then of course there is the three hour roundtrip drive for matches. (ALTA Home matches in Newnan are only an hour roundtrip.)

    Seriously, if you were captain of a 4.5 team, would you want to add me to the roster? I'm not going to take you to state--I doubt I would even win a set at the 4.5 state tournament!
     
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  12. amarone

    amarone Semi-Pro

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    I was only trying to help. It is tricky if you are on the south side as most/all the 4.5 teams look to be on the north side or midtown at best.

    However, several teams are low on numbers and quite a few are 40% 4.0, so I am sure they would be interested in genuine 4.5 players - if you are prepared to travel. If you are interested, USTA Atlanta will help you find a team - go here: http://www.southern.usta.com/atlanta/usaleaguetennis/custom.sps?iType=4084&icustompageid=8306
     
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  13. Z-Man

    Z-Man Professional

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    Thanks, I appreciate it. There are a bunch of us in LaGrange who are in the same boat. We've decided to play ALTA AA4 out of Newnan. That way, at least half of the matches are only 30min away, and we can stick together as a team.

    But enough about me...

    I think the answer to the original question is that the sandbags are pretty big in league tennis. Especially at state and sectionals. You just have to know that going in. When that knowledge is built into your expectations, you shouldn't be unhappy or surprised. Going to state should not be about taking home a trophy. It's about the search for better competition. The people who are after the trophy aren't going to get any better. Competition is what makes you better.

    The sandbagger who beat me in the finals did me a huge favor--he showed me exactly what I need to do to get to the next level. Now it's up to me to raise the level of my game, and that's what it's all about.
     
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  14. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    That is what it is all about to you...unfortunately there are many people out there that are in it for the trophy, and care little for the satisfaction that comes from working hard, improving, and competing well.

    I think to some degree, and maybe this only applies to lower levels, that some of the teams come together and just click, and a few players shine at the right time, and before you know it, you're at sectionals or nationals. Again, my friend's team that went to nationals this year worked really hard, and spent plenty of time getting beat before things just came together. I don't classify them as sandbaggers, but they are definitely playing a higher level of tennis than they did last year or even the beginning of the season...because they worked hard and really wanted to improve. And that, in turn, yielded the 'trophies'. I don't know, I guess we can go round and round...but yes, sandbaggers are a problem, but try not to let that ruin your joy of the game! :)
     
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  15. MSL

    MSL New User

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    Wow... that logic is really out there.

    If someone wanted better competition, couldn't they just play up in their local leagues or tournaments?

    The fact is, some people aren't EVER going to improve enough to move up a level. They are a solid 3.5 player and will always be a solid 3.5 player. Maybe they are at the maximum of their athletic ability. Shouldn't they have a chance of success in their own division?

    If a person is a 3.5 based on the rules set forth by the USTA, then that person should have a chance of winning the 3.5 division at nationals.

    If they want to thank someone for showing them what they need to do to improve then maybe they could thank an instructor for some lessons.

    -Matt
     
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  16. Caswell

    Caswell Semi-Pro

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    You're not going to get that with flights broken down into 0.5 increments. If you consider people appealing down you've got a large spread of skill in a single NTRP flight - in the case of 3.5 you're looking at everything from 3.01 to 3.55.

    To me the only problem with the NTRP system is letting players at 4.5 and above play down just so that they'll have competition. When your 5.0 and 4.5 players suddenly become 4.0 players, your 4.0 players become 3.5's, and so on down the line.

    Growing up in a tennis club with an active adult league and tournament playerbase, I can tell you that the better 3.5 players I saw in the early to mid 90's would be middle of the pack 3.0's now.
     
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  17. ohplease

    ohplease Professional

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    Sounds about right to me. The problem is the "interpretation" of the guidelines has remained static, but the reality of the competition at any given level has indeed changed.

    It's telling that when people honestly make a mistake (as opposed to a blatant attempt to sandbag) - they pretty much never rate themselves too low. Sure, some of that is aspirational or wishful thinking, but not enough to account for what's going on.

    It really comes down to this: is the USTA helping grow the sport with its current implementation of the NTRP? I say no. In fact, I think tennis in the US soldiers on DESPITE the USTA's efforts.

    As for the USTA defenders - raise your hands if even half of your USTA matches have been legitimately competitive. I had maybe 2 or 3 matches out of a dozen that could have gone either way. All the others had me blowing them out, or being blown out, and I was neither playing up, nor down.
     
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  18. MSL

    MSL New User

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    I'm saying that if a 3.5 level was really 3.5 to 3.99 then anyone could win. If a 3.5 has a good day and a 3.99 has a bad day, it could go either way.

    If a 3.0 or a 3.49 chooses to play up, that's fine.

    IMO, that's really the way it should be.

    -Matt
     
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  19. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    Ive seen this thread in our local league, although I blame the appeal system and self rating for the most part.

    When I first started my 3.5 team in 2004, I graded all the teams. You can believe me or not, but I know most of the players/teams on every team, my friends are teaching pros and I am good at ranking players. (in fact in our 8 team division I correctly predicted what place every team would be in, not including us of course)

    I graded teams A-F.

    "A" teams were usually those teams that always tended to win first place every single year and very rarely ever lost a team match in local competition. (one team to this date has lost 6 in 7 years)

    "B" teams were these teams that were always in 2nd place. They usually beat everyone else and were very formitable but always came up short of moving on to the next level.

    "D" and "F" teams were bad teams. For whatever reason they were always in last, or near last consistantly. (some of these teams are really 3.0 teams in the 3.5 league and some of them just dont win for whatever reason)

    The rest were "C" teams which I considered to the average teams and on any given year could finish anywhere from 3rd to 6th place depending on how they were doing. Out of 32 3.5 teams, I would consider that slightly more than half of those were average teams.

    Over the past couple years it hasnt been like that at all. Ive been in two 6 team divisions where there are 3 or 4 teams that I would consider a A or a B team in 2004. I do this because of the players, they either have an over abundance of appealees or a lot of new self rates.

    And we still have the bad teams from 2004, so it's like oh please said, if you are an average team, you are probally rarely seeing a match that could go either way.

    That's here in my area though. Some of the good chances though have been that now new teams seem to win every year, however they are usually doing it because there is an arms race to keep appealing players and find new self-rates. If you dont appeal your players, you are almost looking at ending up in the bottom of your division the next year which is no fun.

    (or for some of you who only want to win first, I'll still say that it's still less fun then taking 2nd or 3rd)
     
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  20. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    I realize I have little experience in USTA leauges, but here is an observation.

    It would seem to me, that no matter what level is being played, the only way to make it to Nationals, would be for those folks to be playing better than most other people in their level that year. I would figure most folks would be on the cusp, or they wouldn't get to Nationals right?

    So...won't this always be an issue based on the nature of taking only the top teams/players to nationals?
     
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  21. Caswell

    Caswell Semi-Pro

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    The 3.5 flight is everyone with an NTRP from 3.01 to 3.50. If you include the automatically approved appeals (+/- 0.05 of the requested NTRP), you're looking at 2.96 to 3.55 as legitimate 3.5 players.

    The document we've seen that claims to know how NTRP works (http://www.shively.net/howNTRPisCalculated.pdf) suggests that a 6-0, 6-1 match score is only a 0.325 differential. That means it's completely within the realm of possibility for matches between two players in the correct flight to be completely uncompetitive.

    Assuming that document is even in the ballpark of being right, that's the crux of the whole NTRP mess.
     
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  22. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

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    I still don't think appealing really hurts anything. It just means that the 3.5 level runs from 3.05 to 3.55 instead of 3.0 to 3.5. It's still a .5 point level and the actual numbers are arbitrary anyway. It does get frustrating, though, to see someone who you know belongs at the next level finally get bumped, only to then see them appeal back down again.

    That said, I would get rid of the appeals. They don't serve any useful purpose and only create hard feelings. They also make it too easy to spot the people at the top of the level. If I was starting a new team with championship goals, I'd sign up as many adj players as I could find since I know they're at the top. The adj ratings may also encourage tanking matches so players can stay at the lower level.

    As far as self-rates go, I'd just increase their minimum number of matches to be eligible for the playoffs and DQ any of them from the post-season that get an ESR that pushes them up a level.
     
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  23. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    I'm not sure if I'm a USTA defender per say, but...*raising hand*...the vast majority of my matches were very competitive, at both 3.0 and 3.5!
     
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  24. lostinamerica

    lostinamerica Semi-Pro

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    I am a USTA defender. I know the sandbagging is out of control for certain teams. Yet, the majority are not sandbagging and even if you take a pounding from a team that is clearly out of level, for the most part you are getting to play new people that you would not otherwise play. In the end it is just for fun.

    So Texas/Carribean/NorCal/SoCal/Mid West like to send a team that is really strong every year. Most weeks, I am certain most of the other teams in the division are probably having fun. Those teams that are vying for Nationals may not see much real competition until they get there. They are playing to really have fun for one weekend. One could argue that they are the ones losing.
     
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  25. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    Appealling ultimately hurts players on the bottom levels 2.5 / 3.0. If you trickle everyone down a level, eventually you will end up with players on the bottom (who may be good for their respective level otherwise) who are going to be left without being able to find a competitive match.

    If the goal is to have as many players interested and involved with league tennis, then that's not good. (because you lose players that way)

    I know tons of 3.0 and 3.5 player in my local area who will never find a team unless they make one themselves (and you cant expect everyone to do that...).

    I love your idea about the minimum number of matches for self rates qualifying for the playoffs. It's crazy when you have teams who primarily play players in the playoffs (like the 3.5 "SuperTeam" from the Mid_West) that have only played 1 or 2 real matches in the regular season.
     
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  26. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    Hopefully I am not either defending them or not. They certainly can do a much better job though.

    As far as those teams, in the case of one of them, I do have no respect for them (for more reasons then just sandbagging actually).

    But I feel anyway the focus should be on the league, not on these teams. Unless the league changes the rules or improves things (which I will agree in some areas they are trying), it's hard to complain about teams who take advantage of the situation since that's always going to occur anyway. (Im sure there isnt a skill based league in any sport out there that doesnt have the same exact issues)
     
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  27. Caswell

    Caswell Semi-Pro

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    Exactly.

    In my area the lowest flight in USTA league play is 3.0 - if you've taken a few lessons and want to get started in competition you get put on court with the 3.0s. That means this past seaons you got to play me in league competition - a guy that's won 3.5 tournaments and hits 100+ mph serves consistantly.

    Sounds like a good way to get people interested in competitive tennis, no?
     
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  28. lostinamerica

    lostinamerica Semi-Pro

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    And you lost in 3.0? Geez, what kind of 3.0s do you guys have in Florida?

    I know I stopped playing tennis for about 15 years but people who could consistently hit over 100 MPH on serves were closer to 5.0 than 3.0. I came back and the 4.5 league players I played with look differently than they do now. 4.5 looks like division I. I have seen 4.0 teams that blow my mind. I read the NTRP descrption and I look at the player and do not see the two numbers matching.
     
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  29. TheFonz

    TheFonz Banned

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    I'd agree with that. Quite a few sandbaggers in the Georgia area. Most of the great team recruit heavily to make sure that they have a strong team. I play for a week team , but have had quite a few offers from some of the better teams. It's not worth it to me. I like the guys that I play with. Sure I want to win, but it's not everything.
     
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  30. Ronaldo

    Ronaldo G.O.A.T.

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    Correct, winning is not everything, it's the ONLY thing.
     
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