How prevalent is ratings manipulation in USTA league play?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Reddirt, Nov 11, 2013.

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Do ratings manipulations affect winners' line results in local playoffs?

Poll closed Nov 25, 2013.
  1. A. More than one line per playoff match

    27.8%
  2. B. Approximately one line per playoff match

    30.6%
  3. C. At least one line in half of the playoff matches

    5.6%
  4. D. Rarely

    33.3%
  5. E. Never

    2.8%
  1. Reddirt

    Reddirt New User

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    I am posting this survey to see what the community thinks is the prevalence of ratings manipulation (i.e., intentional underperformance in order to acheive, or maintain, a rating that is below one's actual ability). Past posts on the topic have yielded a variety of responses, so it is difficult to determine the actual effect of the practice on playoffs, sectionals...
     
    #1
  2. schmke

    schmke Professional

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    I'm not sure exactly what you are asking.

    Are you asking if players in local playoffs are throwing matches (under performing) to manipulate their rating?

    Or are you asking how often sandbaggers who previously manipulated their rating make it to playoffs and affect the results in playoffs?

    Or both?
     
    #2
  3. josofo

    josofo Semi-Pro

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    my question about this. is how many people that play below where they should. play there because.


    A- they live in a smallish area for example they are 4.5 but there is no 4.5 league so they play 4.0.

    B- they just didnt do a lot of research into what there rating is and just signed up for a league.


    on here people always paint out of level players as intentionally cheating the system.

    but i feel a lot of them just dont know about the system enough to be cheating it.
     
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  4. jservoss

    jservoss Rookie

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    I think both of those groups are pretty small in the PNW.

    If there are players that fit into the 'A' category, they aren't doing very well. The strongest teams at sectionals are usually from the big cities (Seattle and Portland)

    The captains in my area are pretty aggressive about appealing poor self rates, so you don't see group 'B' very often by playoff time.
     
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  5. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

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    I have heard about it maybe once in the 10 years I've been playing. I'm sure it happens, but it's rare. It's far less rare for people to believe it has to be widespread because they aren't the best at their level.
     
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  6. Reddirt

    Reddirt New User

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    Schmke,

    It is the latter. Sorry, I was trying to be concise, but I can see how it is unclear. What I was wondering about was the effect of manipulating ratings in order to reach playoffs and beyond on the outcomes of those playoff, sectional and beyond matches

    Thanks for the question.
     
    #6
  7. Reddirt

    Reddirt New User

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    To All,

    Actually, I wanted to focus on the effect on playoff line results.
     
    #7
  8. coyote

    coyote Rookie

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    It definitely happens but it is not nearly as prevalent as many like to say. Too many people use themselves/friends as benchmarks and most people overestimate their inner circle's game.

    While I wholeheartedly admit it happens, few people are even willing to do it. Finding 8 self rates/ratings manipulators would be nearly impossible.
     
    #8
  9. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    10 characters
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2014
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  10. SteveI

    SteveI Legend

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    I know that folks in my section are always looking for that under-rated, self rated player to get that edge. I have been asked to play a few times under my level since I have not played USTA in many years. Last season I know that one 3.0 men's team found a 5 or 6 3.5s that had never played USTA and formed a team and lost in the last match that would have sent them to the Nationals. In general, you need a few ringers to advance. The system works in most cases, but you can beat that system if you really go out of your way. Most captains are on the look out for those "special" players.
     
    #10
  11. SteveI

    SteveI Legend

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    This pretty much is what you can see if folks really work the system..
     
    #11
  12. damazing

    damazing Rookie

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    In my experience with the 100+ captains I've interacted with during my USTA playing time I would say only a small handful actively recruited players out of level. And of this small handful maybe one or two actively managed their out of level players ratings by pairing them with the weakest players and putting them at line 3 doubles until they established a low rating.

    Most captains that recruited players without a USTA history played them straight up according to their abilities. A few players did get DQed but most just were mid to strong for level and didn't really dominate.
     
    #12
  13. schmke

    schmke Professional

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    FWIW, pairing with the weakest player is generally not the right strategy to keep the new player's rating low ...
     
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  14. SteveI

    SteveI Legend

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    That is very impressive indeed. I have seen the opposite many times to be sure. I am sure most captains play it straight up.
     
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  15. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

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    Recruiting strong players and putting them in situations where they are unlikely to get strikes is good captaining, not cheating or manipulating anything. Cheating is getting people to lie on self-rating forms or telling people to tank matches/sets/games or entering scores wrong or signing up under a second name to get a lower rating. People are very quick to cry foul on here sometimes. Let's try not to lose sight of what is actually cheating. I try to recruit the best team I can, and I try to put S-rated players in situations where they will not get strikes, but I have never once told anyone not to play their best or to keep a score close or even lose a match or anything like that. There's a huge difference.
     
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  16. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

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    To make it to the playoffs, no, you don't have to manipulate NTRP.

    To win districts, no, you don't have to.

    To win sectionals? Most likely.

    To win nationals? Absolutely. You can't win nationals without having a huge sandbagging team.
     
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  17. schmke

    schmke Professional

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    This is probably true at some levels and age divisions and in some cases, but not all.

    First, in the 40 & over division, I think sandbagging is less prevalent primarily because there are fewer new players self-rating and those that are are by definition older and probably less likely to engage in such shenanigans.

    Second, at the lower levels the tolerances for strikes are larger so it is easier to keep a self-rate from being DQd.

    As evidence, I was on a team that went to Nationals and got 4th a few years ago, and while we did have a few self-rated players, I wouldn't consider them sandbaggers/ringers (they all had losses during the regular season, only one got bumped up at year end, and no one was throwing matches/games) and only half the team got bumped up at year-end.

    I also just worked with a team that won Nationals at 40 & over and they had just 2 self-rated players, one may be bumped up but the other won't be, and no throwing of matches or games. They simply assembled a strong team and then managed it well. And perhaps the scouting reports I provided helped them maximize their potential by getting favorable match-ups.
     
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  18. SteveI

    SteveI Legend

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    Bingo... right on the mark..
     
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  19. Reddirt

    Reddirt New User

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    Schmke,
    I'm just wondering what the most advantageous strategy might be... Your thoughts...
     
    #19
  20. Bash and Crash

    Bash and Crash Semi-Pro

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    My team just won over 40 4.5+ nationals(schmke knows us well) and we had absolutely no sand baggers on our team. Personally, I feel I should have higher rating than I have, but since I'm teaching all the time and not working on my game as much I'm still at 4.5. I did pop over 4.5 according to schmke ratings, but probably below now, but if watched our team we have no strange ratings issues, just solid 4.5's and 5.0's and players willing to play certain lines to make the team as solid as possible.
     
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  21. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    There were a lot of close individual and team matches at the 40+, 4.5 Nationals. The NTRP system worked well for this group in my opinion.
     
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  22. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

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    I agree with you with 40 and over, my examples are for 18 and over.

    Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that self-raters were the way to do it. I should have been more clear -- NTRP manipulation by strategically tanking matches to get yourself bumped down artificially. If I'm a strong 5.0 and I lose a lot to get bumped down -- yet am still a strong 5.0, I would be a HUGE asset to a 4.5 team with dreams of going to nationals.

    Get two or three more of those guys and you're going to go very far indeed.

    It's really a folly, IMO, to assume that any 4.5 singles player that you meet in the finals of nationals is truly a 4.5. They need to be at minimum a strong 5.0 to begin to compete. A weak 5.5 would be preferable to win.

    Same goes with everything else. I assume the people that those who win 3.0 nationals aren't 3.0s. They may be 3.5s, but more likely 4.0s.

    I lost a very large NTRP 3.0 tournament in my area this year to another "3.0", I got double bread-sticked -- never had that happen to me by a 3.0 or 3.5 in over 70 matches. I usually lose 1-1 to 4.0s though. This guy was crazy good, definitely a 4.0.
     
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  23. jservoss

    jservoss Rookie

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    If you lose a lot at 5.0, then you aren't a strong 5.0. The 18+ 4.5 men's team from my area this year was incredibly strong because most of the players bounce back and forth between 4.5 and 5.0. It wasn't because of any gamesmanship or malicious motives, but they all happened to be 4.5 at the same time.

    I'm good friends with most of the 18+ 4.5 team from my area that went to nationals and can confidently say that none of them would be competitive against average or strong 5.0s. There is a reason they keep fluctuating between 4.5 and 5.0 and its because they aren't competitive at 5.0. When two of those players were 5.0s my partner and I beat them 6-1,6-0 in the USTA 5.0 leagues.
     
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  24. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

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    It worked well in 4.0 40+, too. The TN team was clearly better than everyone else, but there was a lot of parity below that. I think in general (as Schmke said), the 40+ leagues are a lot harder to manipulate since most players are established and have been playing for years (and generally are not improving rapidly, either).
     
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  25. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

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    This is patently false. If a guy is 4.5 rated and he hasn't actively falsified or manipulated results, which is far rarer than people here would like to believe, then he is truly a 4.5. In fact, that's the definition of being a 4.5 player, no matter how good he is.
     
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  26. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    I have been to the playoffs 12 times during my 10 year "USTA career".

    I do not have first hand knowledge of anyone with an established rating purposefully dropping games, sets or matches to stay "on-level". I am sure has happened but it is clearly not the widespread problem in this area that the many TT posts seem to suggest.

    However, during those 12 playoff runs we have won our district and gone onto sectionals 5 times. In each of those 5 sectional appearances the average number of self rated players is about 5 per team. Usually the 18+ team with the most self rated players is the team that advances to Nationals ... this is not always true, but often enough that it makes you go hmmmm.

    I suspect the players are not purposely trying to game the system. Instead I think the root cause of the problem is that captains of good teams will only add a self rated player if they can improve the roster. One way a captain makes sure that happens is to invite above level players, but explain to the new player "how the system works" so that the captain gets a self rated player they can use.
     
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  27. SteveI

    SteveI Legend

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    This is working the system. "but explain how the system works". The bottom line is certain captains are looking for that hidden gem(s) to get the edge. If you find enough of these (self-rated) gems in one season.. you are going to the Nationals. In general without a few of these you have very little chance of going any place. It is more than being a smart captain IMHO, it is sandbagging the "real" teams that play it straight up. Being a great coach or captain is about putting your players in the best position to win. Getting the most out of your team...not getting the most team you can by working the system. There will always be those captains and coaches working on the very edges of the rules.. even the USTA will turn a blind eye to it in favor of the money they take in.
     
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  28. SteveI

    SteveI Legend

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    Great Post. Nailed it. There are all sorts of ways to work the system. These are perfect examples. The best part is when one of the sandbaggers gets beat by even better one. This makes perfect sense. "It's really a folly, IMO, to assume that any 4.5 singles player that you meet in the finals of nationals is truly a 4.5. They need to be at minimum a strong 5.0 to begin to compete. A weak 5.5 would be preferable to win."



    BTW.. looks like many folks here think that there is USTA sandbagging going on. 13-10 at this point.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
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  29. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

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    This is more than likely a perception error. People see others that are better than they are and assume they must be cheating.
     
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  30. SteveI

    SteveI Legend

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    Sure it is... I know teams that go out of their way to work the system and CHEAT. Those are facts. I have been asked to play under my level to help a team. That is not perception, that is a fact.
     
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  31. Brian11785

    Brian11785 Hall of Fame

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    Same here. I was told that I would "win half my matches" in 3.5 but was questioned about why I would do that when I could join a 3.0 nationals-bound team that was being put together.

    It is not a matter of these sort of tactics being universally employed. It's just that the captains/teams that employ them usually have a lot of visibility (....going to nationals.)
     
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  32. SteveI

    SteveI Legend

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    I was asked this year to join a team that went to the Nationals. I was not asked to play on a team that was at my level...it was below my level. End of story. Of course they have lot of visibility (....going to nationals)...the teams that do not employ this "strategy" in general do not make to Nationals.
     
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  33. chatt_town

    chatt_town Hall of Fame

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    In playoffs probably hardly ever as you can't afford to most of the time. I think it depends on the league and the amount of teams. In atl, that is very hard to do because you are playing teams you don't know most of the time. You have try and win every line.


     
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  34. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

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    I don't know where you guys are from, but I find it highly ironic that it appears that the most ethical people in the country are actually from New Jersey.
     
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  35. bethany2

    bethany2 New User

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    That's definitely not what I saw at nationals. My team came in second and we didn't have any self-rates. I also didn't think the team we lost to was purposely sandbagging either...

    It's like anything else, people will take whatever excuse you give them!
     
    #35
  36. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    Greenwood, Hilton Head, and Columbia each had a number of 3.5S make the trip to State. The HH Captain made comments to our Captain on Friday night that they expected to win or something to that affect. Our Captain just nodded. Our team is made up of friends, all hacks, some who starting playing tennis three or four years ago. We have zero self-rated players. We had a few guys who would get the wins to give the team a 3-2 win, but were never a threat to anyone at State.

    Seems HH was out sandbagged by Columbia. :shock: The HH Captain got beat by another 3.5S from Columbia. But even Columbia with the most self-rates, couldn't out-sandbag Greenwood, who used their self-rated, and benchmark players to win and move onto to Sectionals. HH and Columbia each got one DQed in the process. Greenwood had one 3.0S on their 3.5 team - guess his 3.0 team didn't realize when he won a few of his 3.5 matches 1&1 and 2&3 as a 3.0S, he was going to get him DQed (he won two 3.0 matches 1&0). So Greenwood went to Sectionals in Mobile, and missed getting to the semi-finals by one court. TN went 12-8, while SC was 11-9. TN lost 3-2 in the finals to MS who went to Nationals. Hey, hopefully they each got a towel. :)

    I can tell you there are a lot of 3.5 guys who are clearly better than several of the 4.0s I've played this year. Unfortunately, most of those 3.5 guys are 3.5S players. :rolleyes: And one of of them seems to throw games. Hard to prove, but if walks like a duck, and quakes like a duck...well.
     
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  37. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    So when the 18 year old kid in high school self-rated at 3.5, and also has a Sectional Ranking, that's enough for a grievance to bump the kid to 4.5. Cause the USTA says he must rate at 4.5 minimum. That's fact, not perception. I didn't file the grievance. It wasn't the kid's fault. It's the USTA for having a system that encourages this type of behavior from Captains.

    It would be easier if the USTA would simply cross reference their Junior database with their Adult USTA database when these players self-rate. If the USTA self-rate system checked the USTA Junior Database, this kid gets a 4.5S rating instead of his 3.5S. At least he changed his name from Harry to Harrison for 2013 and self-rated 4.0 in 2013, and got a new USTA Membership number. That was so nice of him.

    And yes he played on two teams in the upstate of SC, one SATL, and one UPTA. On the SATL team he goes 4-1, and the UPTA team he goes 0-4 (can you spell "DNTRP managment" ?).

    Anyone else find it helpful, that as a 4.0S, he takes a double bagel on his last match on the team he seems to be tanking, before going to the SC State Championship? What would that do for him? Maybe drop his DNTRP quit a bit, before he plays other 4.0 guys at State? Again, if it walks like a duck and quakes like a duck...

    Yet when he goes to State, he again become invincible, going 5-0 at state at 4.0 Singles and he then he goes 4-1 at 4.0 Singles at The Southern Sectionals.

    So do you really believe all 4 players he lost to on the UPTA team were better than the players at he beat on the other team, or the five players he beat at State or the four players he beat at the Southern Sectionals? I don't. I believe the Captain he had him self-rated at 3.5 last year, taught him how to manipulate the USTA system.

    So he sucks so badly on one local team, he loses every match 0-4 at 4.0 (the last one as a double bagel), yet at the SC State Championships at 18+ he goes 5-0 in singles, and goes 4-1 at the Southern Sectional Championships in singles. Really? And that's not sandbagging or manipulating his rating? His only loss at the Southern Sectional, was to another self-rated player.

    Nothing perceptual in the facts of Mr. Harry R. or Harrison R.
     
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  38. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

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    No, actually, lying on self-rating, registering under a different name, and manipulating match scores is cheating. My point in the previous post is that it happen A LOT less than people claim on here, which is not to say it never happens, but most of the time in here, the story we get is "he's so good he must be cheating", without any proof of any of that. Being good isn't cheating. Lying on a self-rating is. There is a big difference.
     
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  39. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    Yet, the USTA does NOTHING to prevent this from happening. Honesty on a forum isn't much of a barrier to sandbagging.

    This 19 year old is still playing below his required level of 4.5. But I know his name, and while I doubt I will ever be on a team going to the playoffs, you can be sure the USTA will get a grievance if I make it that far. Until, then he can sandbag away. Why? Because I hope other players and Captains experience this and they too complain to the USTA to simple link the databases. Just linking the databases solves this self-rating problem for juniors self-rating to low. Is this too much to ask of the USTA?

    I get that a lot of guys on this forum says "he's so good he cheating". I understand the nature of that.

    But sandbagging happens. It happened to me last year vs the 18 year old kid. I was thinking he really didn't need to use a new name. He could have simply appealed up, since Combo gives him no rating at all. But then it dawned on me, that he can't appeal up with only a 3.5S from Combo, since he actually still has no rating. Combo doesn't count for anything. So, he had to change his name and get a new USTA number, because clearly playing at 3.5S wasn't going to work versus all the 4.0s he was beating up. He would have gotten a lot of attention, and guys would have found his name with his Sectional Ranking like I did. It wasn't hard. But the USTA clearly allows their system to be manipulated.
     
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  40. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    disgusted at the Crap pulled by the SC 4.0 18+ State Champions.

    Congrats Ron Charles, Harrison Reed and Chris Wolf--

    You made me throw up tonight after figuring out what you did.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2013
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  41. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    I did a little more research. It seems there is more to Harrison's 0&0 lost than meets the eye.

    The guy (Chris Wolf) who doubled bageled (Harrison Reed) in Harry's last match before his team from SATL (SRCH Duncan Destroyers) goes to the State playoffs, is in fact his teammate on the (SRCH Duncan Destroyers), the team that is going to State, the same team, that will in fact become the SC 4.0 18+ Champions.

    So two teammates on a team that going to State from their Spartanburg team, play each other in a league in Greenville. This match that affects their ratings, but only Harry or Harrison (this season) is a 4.0S and his teammate (Chris Wolf.) double bagels him which drops is rating like a lead balloon.

    Seriously? Any this isn't a problem?

    So both of these guys (Harry Reed and Chris Wolf.) sign up on different teams in Greenville, SC and both team flat out suck. Yet, they are on the same team in Spartanburg that is going to State. Then when the weak teams play each other in the Greenville league, both guys from the same team out of Spartanburg just happen to play each other at #2 Singles? And the 4.0B player (Chris Wolf.) plays his first and only singles match of the year and beats his self-rated teammate (Harrison Reed.) 0&0. This smells like blatant cheating at it's worse.

    Any USTA official want to take a crack at this? I doubt it. Why? Because you can't prove anything. Everything Chris Wolf and Harrison Reed did is legal in the eyes of the USTA. I just threw up in my mouth.

    GMatheis, question for you-

    Ron Charles is your 3.5 teammate, and is the Captain of this team with Harrison Reed and Chris Wolf. Want to chime on in Ron Charles and his Duncan Destroyers?

    So this the team that set up fake teams to lose and manage their rating. It sure looks that way to me.

    Seems Harry lost 4&0 to Larry Lawson (who won only one 18+ 4.0 match in the spring season for his CCC team). Seems Ron as a 3.5 beat up on Larry, the 4.0 in a doubles match, what 3&1, but Harry the 4.0S couldn't manage more than 4 games against Larry Lawson. Really? :rolleyes:

    How convenient that Harry lost 4&0 to a guy who only won one match at 18+, after Ron Charles, Harry, Chris, and the Duncan Destroyers have a 4-0 record and have secured their ticket to State.

    Seems that Ron likes to manage the ratings well, as the Duncan Destroyers tanked the last two matches after they punched their ticket to State.

    Wow. I am thoroughly disgusted. I knew people cheated, but not to this level. I don't know you GMathesis, but I seem to think you and Brad M. are above this crap.
     
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  42. Bash and Crash

    Bash and Crash Semi-Pro

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    I find it amazing that players would even think to do any of this at the 3.5 level or any level for that matter. I would much rather battle my ***** off in the 5.0's next year than to somehow lose enough matches to be dropped down to a lower rating just to try and get to nationals. Comedy.
     
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  43. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    This was the South Carolina 4.0 18+ State Champions - not a bunch of 3.5 guys ;)

    This is just sad - but I proved my point to JRB - and to lot more of the naysayers, sandbagging and rating manipulation does exist. It is alive an thriving in South Carolina.

    Just click on the names in the USTA tennis link. All the matches are there- just like I described.
     
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  44. Bash and Crash

    Bash and Crash Semi-Pro

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    Yep, one guy here in NorCal, 4.5 got bumped to 5.0 and somehow lost every singles match 0-1, or 0-0, next year dropped back down and low and behold he played on 4 or 5 national teams....hmmm. But, whatever floats one boat.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2013
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  45. Brian11785

    Brian11785 Hall of Fame

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    This escalated quickly. [​IMG]
     
    #45
  46. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    How can you play tennis on the same team or partner with Ron Charles when you know this crap is going on?

    Is this enough proof for you JRB?

    And there is nothing anyone can do about Ron Charles, because the USTA allows him to do this.

    What we as players can do is simply forfeit the match and refuse to play such people.
     
    #46
  47. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    Bash and Crash,

    Congrats on winning the 40+ National 4.5 Championship!

    Good to some know honest people can and do sometimes win in the end.
     
    #47
  48. dcdoorknob

    dcdoorknob Hall of Fame

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    Pointing out one example of this type of thing would be sufficient to prove someone wrong who says it never happens at all.

    It is not sufficient to prove someone wrong who says it is "less common than people claim", which is what was actually said. Seems like a strawman has been set up here.

    Not that I even have a dog in this fight. I don't know how common it is personally.
     
    #48
  49. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    How does anyone know how is common rating manipulation and sandbagging happens? This isn't measurable across the USTA.

    It is pure speculation - for both sides of the argument.

    Someone who says "it is less common than people think", have no more proof than those who argue it does. Neither party has proof -

    But one party can provide specific examples -
     
    #49
  50. Brian11785

    Brian11785 Hall of Fame

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    You are my hero.

    The USTA has absolutely no interest in (and probably shouldn't be) getting in the active ringer-hunting business. But that doesn't mean that it isn't satisfying to see someone called out on his obvious deceit. Good research.
     
    #50

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