Match determined by a coin toss - what do you think?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by walton123, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. walton123

    walton123 New User

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2012
    Messages:
    14
    40+ adult league, 4 position matches ( 1 singles, 3 doubles), new format for our region, simple rules sent out at start of season indicating - if tie match 2-2, go to sets and if tied go to games.

    We played recently and tied on all fronts - positions, sets, and games. Neither team knew what to do as our emailed rule sheet said to go to games. We figured we would enter in tennislink, it would go as tie and be determined at seasons end. As it turns out, we were instructed by LLC the next day that a coin toss would need to be done to determine match winner. Many on our team are upset that we would now determine matches this way - as "remote" a chance of this happening (a full tie all around) it happened so maybe it isn't so remote.

    We will suck this up as we lost the flip and subsequently(after the fact) the LLC emailed new rules stating this......a little late. Previous to this our league was 5 positions which could not yield ties but this season we went to 4. Seems better planning could have been done. I hear another league very close to us is using "positions won" for the season to determine standings - this seems to be more fair as at least some credit is given. We are told our rules stand for now and could be revised next year - Not sure I like this 18+ 5 position, 40+ 4 position structure and certainly not happy about this TIE being determined by flip of coin.

    What does everyone think? I am interested in your thoughts.
     
    #1
  2. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,438
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Was it that you guys weren't aware of the tiebreak rules or that there are no other tiebreak rules in place? Once you guys leave the courts I really don't know how else you could decide it. I believe in other leagues they have it set up such that the last team to finish would play a 10 point tiebreak to decide the tie but to me this is also rather against the spirit of the rules that all lines count equally.

    It seems like the simplest solution is for your league to start using individual wins rather than team wins for your standings in the regular season. This has always been a change I have advocated for but in a league with just 4 lines it seems like the painfully obvious solution. Of course that can't happen until next season.
     
    #2
  3. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    2,639
    Location:
    Newtown, PA
    You should keep track of total points as a 3rd tiebreaker. If it's still tied, then you need some sort of skills competition like the hockey shootout to use as a tiebreaker. Maybe a fastest serve competition or something?
     
    #3
  4. walton123

    walton123 New User

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2012
    Messages:
    14
    yes spot..........

    The rules for this new 40+ season(4 position season) only went so far as to tell us that if positions tied go to sets, if sets tied go to games. It never went beyond games as I believe the league felt this would be remote and just now(last night) emailed rules including the coin toss, likely as a result of our match. I agree with you that individual wins rather than team wins should be used but wish they could start that now as only a couple of matches have been played and I don't understand why we must wait. I am also upset that another league in our region plays individual wins and we don't so it seems these LLC's don't talk to each other - no consistency here and many players play in both leagues. Obviously I am frustrated - all the changes to me mean more $ for USTA and more work for captains like me! Sorry to rant.......
     
    #4
  5. damazing

    damazing Rookie

    Joined:
    May 22, 2009
    Messages:
    251
    A coin flip does seem arbitrary, if you really wanted to make the line strength count for something to give more credence to not stacking line ups (although I do know that the line number played is not supposed to count for anything except for 4.5+ leagues)

    You could have the team that wins line 1 doubles in a match tie situation win the match. (Assuming they re-wrote the rules to require the lines to represent strength of competition) Teams would still stack their lineups but would be at a disadvantage when it came to a tie in the match.
     
    #5
  6. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,438
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Because the other teams in the league would complain that the rules were changed mid-season. I think that leagues should be very hesitant to change their rules midseason and it should be saved for the most egregious situations.
     
    #6
  7. tenniscasey

    tenniscasey Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2012
    Messages:
    426
    I was thinking the same thing as this. This wouldn't completely force teams to put their best players on the 1 line, but it'd be clear incentive to not throw that line.
     
    #7
  8. MeHere2PlayTennis

    MeHere2PlayTennis New User

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2013
    Messages:
    24
    Although it can't help you now, it maybe proposing a calculation change to the LLC would prevent this from happening in the future. This seems to me like a very questionable practice and in my area we go in this order, Team Wins, Team losses, Individual Wins, Individual Losses, Sets Loss, and Games Loss. I have seen it come down to one game for the entire league. Sorry this one didn't go in your favor.
     
    #8
  9. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,438
    Location:
    Atlanta
    That seems way more harsh. In that situation if a team loses line 1 doubles they have to win the other 3 matches in order to win the tie? If a team's best player prefers singles then they would have to make the very tough choice on whether to play them at line 1 doubles instead? It seems like a bad plan to make that 1 line count almost as much as the other 3.
     
    #9
  10. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    2,639
    Location:
    Newtown, PA
    I assume the idea is that would be the third tiebreaker behind sets and games, so it's not too harsh, just a way to break a tie that's at least on the court instead of a coin flip.
     
    #10
  11. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,438
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Ah- that would make more sense and I wouldn't have a problem with that though I would prefer to just use individual wins.

    I think that I would be OK with it if the road team were given the tie as the last tiebreak since presumably there is some advantage to playing at home. Every team would prefer playing at home rather than on the road even with this so it doesn't exactly misalign incentives. The biggest downside to this is when you have 2 teams out of the same facility and one plays a "road" match against the other but I think that would be a rare enough that you would just have to shrug your shoulders.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013
    #11
  12. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Messages:
    4,058
    Location:
    NorCal Bay Area
    It seems silly and unnecessary to determine matches by a coin toss during the regular season. Just consider the match a tie, so half a match point to each team. If the match standings at the end of the regular season are tied between two or more teams, there are already well-tested tiebreak procedures in place to resolve that.

    Of course in playoffs it's different, since you need an explicit match winner that will progress to the next round.

    A couple of asides:

    - Using just individual wins to determine standings also works, but it does change the dynamic of the league and teams. For example, I will often play a weak line in a match when I feel confident that the other lines will win, so that I can get my weaker players some matches. But if standings are driven primarily by individual wins rather than just using them as a tiebreaker, then there would be fewer playing opportunities for the weaker guys.

    - I don't like the idea of giving more weight to line #1. USTA professes that there is no significance to lines numbers (although there are already some contradictions to that). So with the current system, I would be against anything that further distinguishes between lines.
     
    #12
  13. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Messages:
    4,412
    Location:
    expanding my Ignore List
    +1 on using #1 doubles court winner as the tiebreaker if # of lines, sets, and games is tied. Any policy that promotes less stacking is to be encouraged, imo. I have been in too many matches recently where the other captain put guys playing up on their #1 singles and/or doubles courts resulting in non-competitive beatdowns.
     
    #13
  14. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Messages:
    4,058
    Location:
    NorCal Bay Area
    I agree with your frustration, but am against half-measures - or eighth-measures, as in this case!

    If we want to do away with stacking, then the whole way teams wins are determined needs to be changed - rather than giving a point per line, it would need to be something like:
    5 points - #1 singles
    3 points - #2 singles
    5 points - #1 dubs
    4 points - #2 dubs
    3 points - #3 dubs
    With teams needing 11 points to win the match, 10 to tie. Note that you still need to win 3 lines to win, but can tie by winning both #1 lines and losing the rest. Season standings would be based on cumulative score.

    Now that would eliminate stacking IMO, but just using line numbers as a rarely-used tiebreak isn't going to motivate captains to stop stacking.
     
    #14
  15. greg_in_atl

    greg_in_atl New User

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2004
    Messages:
    65
    I play in an ALTA Sr Mens League here in Atlanta, where we play four lines of doubles. If you finish 2-2, during the regular season, then it's just a tie. However, overall standing for the season are based total individual matches won.

    Here is the tie-break procedure ALTA has if you finish a playoff match 2-2: the last teams to finish will immediately play a match tiebreak (first to 10 points leading by 2 points)

    To me, at least this settles things on the court as opposed to something arbitrary like a coin flip.
     
    #15
  16. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Messages:
    4,412
    Location:
    expanding my Ignore List
    I understand stacking is not prohibited by USTA rules and the suggestion to use a #1 court as the 4th deciding factor would not eliminate the issue. It would though make it more likely that there would be a competitive match on that court or courts which I support.

    However I have no problem with your suggested revision to the 1 point per line system now in place either. The league in question uses 1 singles and 3 doubles.
     
    #16
  17. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,438
    Location:
    Atlanta
    And right here you are saying that because team wins are what matters then you are OK with dumping a line to strengthen the other lines. Going to individual wins rather than team wins would be one of the single biggest things you could do to avoid teams dumping lines because there would be real incentive to take every line. A team that only won 3 points every week would not at all be guaranteed to make playoffs.

    Going with team wins gives captains significant incentive to dump lines.
     
    #17
  18. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Messages:
    4,058
    Location:
    NorCal Bay Area
    Yes you're right.

    But I was not just thinking of the situation where I dump a line to strengthen other lines (which I have done of course). I was thinking of where I can currently give playing time to people at the bottom of my roster, because I don't absolutely need them to win (although of course I hope they have a competitive match).

    So going to individual wins will reduce stacking, but will also reduce opportunities for captains to give playing time to the weaker people on the team even aside from stacking considerations.

    Basically it means I would have much more incentive to always put in my next best available players at line #3 (after putting the strongest at #1 and #2), versus in today's world I can put in guys further down the depth chart in at #3 to give them a chance to play.

    I'd be fine with this, but just realize that an unintended consequence of moving to individual wins might be to further marginalize the weaker players in a league.
     
    #18
  19. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,438
    Location:
    Atlanta
    But it has the same effect and is caused by the same incentives. You were putting out 2 weak players together knowing it made the rest of your lineup stronger. If it were team wins then you may have used the same players but instead of putting them together you would have split them and used them with stronger partners which would increase the quality of league play. Or else you would have sat them and put out stronger lines and the quality of league play would go up.

    Personally I just don't see the downside. (and likely thats because ALTA uses individual wins and I think it greatly aligns incentives better) Every team needs to decide for themselves how much they want to balance playtime vs putting out the strongest lineup every week. I really don't understand the value of using team wins before the playoffs.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013
    #19
  20. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Messages:
    4,058
    Location:
    NorCal Bay Area
    You're misunderstanding what I'm saying (or maybe I'm saying it badly).

    Let's say I have 18 on my roster for adult league (5 lines). Imagine I rank them by strength from #1 through #18. And also let's say that on any given week I have at least 10 people available for that week (need 8 per match).

    If my team is competitive and wants to do well in the regular season, and if every individual match counts, then each week I will put out the strongest possible lineup. In the scenario I'm describing, players #17 and #18 on my roster will get zero matches.

    In today's world, there will be matches against weaker teams where I feel comfortable that I will already get 3 wins from singles #1 and #2 and dubs #1 and #2 lines. So in these matches I can afford to put in my players #17 and #18 in the #3 dubs line. They will likely still have a competitive match (since the opponents are a weak team), but are not guaranteed a win.

    As you say there are always choices to make between fielding the strongest lineup and giving everyone playing time. In today's world there are opportunities like the scenario I described, where I can give weaker players matches without compromising the team's overall competitiveness. If instead we had individual matches count, I would lose some of that flexibility, and would have to make harsher decisions about allocating playing time.

    That's fine for me as a captain, but players #17 and #18 would lose out. That's the downside.
     
    #20
  21. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,070
    **File a grievance!! Hurry!!**

    I'm actually serious.

    Leagues should have rules in place at the start of the season. Your league probably adopted rules for 2013.

    If those rules require a coin flip under these circumstances, you are stock.

    If those rules do not require a coin flip and are silent -- which is what OP said is the case -- then you should not abide by the results of a coin flip because that is not in the league's rules.

    In that case, the captains could and should agree to some sort of system for deciding the tied match. A logical solution would be to have each team designate four players to play a deciding doubles match. Results wouldn't go into TennisLink, but the result would determine the winner of the tied match.

    That could, of course, only be done by captain's agreement, as that solution isn't in the rules either.

    Me, I'd file a grievance for sure.
     
    #21
  22. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,438
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Orangepower- I completely understand what you are saying. You are saying that because there are times where there is zero downside to losing a line that it means you can play weaker players more often. I agree with this and going by team wins are the reason why putting those 2 players together against the opposing players best players can often make sense and give your team a tremendous advantage.

    If individual wins were the criteria then your job as captain to balance playtime would be different. You would be trying to use them in such a way that you can still get them to win. You would be using a better player to play with them and put them against a weaker team. If you were to put out a non-competitive team you will potentially be at a disadvantage against a team that puts out 5 lines that all have a chance to win. If you really have 2 players on your roster who are so far below level that they have no chance of winning, then likely they shouldn't be on your roster to begin with.

    I realize you have become accustomed to being able to put out lines that might be completely non-competitive without any real consequence. And I get that you think your motivation is more pure than the dirty sandbaggers on other teams. I just don't think it is good for the league that either team can do so with so little consequence.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013
    #22
  23. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,070
    By the way, our league states that if an individual match ends in an exact tie, you play a sudden death point to decide the winner.

    I remember once when there was a double-default on one court and each team won 2 of the 4 contested courts. Our league administrator did not flip a coin, as the rules do not allow for that.

    What he did was hold the results until the end of the season. Even in the worst case (the teams finished tied in team matches won), he could then look at the sets won/games lost as the tiebreaker. Then he would award the team point to the team that prevailed on sets won/games lost.
     
    #23
  24. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Messages:
    4,058
    Location:
    NorCal Bay Area
    Yes
    No. I'm not talking about putting 2 weak players together against opposing teams best players. I talking about putting my 2 weakest against the opposing team's weakest. This is what I don't think I've communicated well. The point is not to get a competitive advantage by stacking. the point here is to get my 2 weak guys (as well as the other team) a competitive match, but without having to put my overall team win at risk.
    The bottom line is that my weakest players would play less often, because I would not risk losing an individual match if I could help it. It's not that they can't win, it's that the probability of them winning is lower. And as for them being on my roster... well, it's about loyalty and giving people an opportunity to play.
    Actually this allows me to put out lines that are more competitive rather than less. Meaning, if we are playing a weaker team, where I think I have lines s1, s2, d1, d2 in the bag, I could (1) play my next best available dubs pair at #3, where they will likely crush the opponent's #3 dubs, or (2) play a weak pair at #3, where they will have a competitive match with the opponent's #3 dubs (but the outcome is not certain). Which is better for everyone?
     
    #24
  25. schmke

    schmke Professional

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2010
    Messages:
    1,312
    Agree with OrangePower here. If the rules pressure captains into not wanting to play their weaker players at all, then why have them on the roster? Only as last gasp backup? That isn't really fair to them. And if they aren't on the roster, then they get shut out of of USTA League play completely?

    Sure, all the stragglers could get together and form their own team to be beat up on by all the other teams, but there may not be enough to form a team, or all located where it logistically isn't easy to form a team.

    All this rule would do would reward the teams that can recruit and stack a team several levels deep so that they have dominant players at every court regardless of who is available to play.
     
    #25
  26. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,438
    Location:
    Atlanta
    orangepower- you are putting your 2 worst players together because you only need to take 3 points and it means you don't want to weaken your other lines and simply don't care if they lose. You can talk yourself into the fact that you put them at 3 and wish that your opponent would put their weakest player against them where they might have a chance. But you don't know that- and you put them out there knowing there is a very good chance that they will get killed. If you needed to try and take 5 you would put them with stronger partners to give them a better chance.

    Think of all the downsides of going by team victories primarily. It BEGS for teams to put out noncompetitive lines (as you have realized to your own team's benefit). It means there are a series of matches that are entirely irrelevant so if someone wants to manipulate their rating they have the ability to do so without hurting the team AT ALL. It puts more randomness in the results- taking 5 points is a TON more difficult than taking 3 points and it should be acknowledged in the standings.

    I just don't understand why anyone would support a system which means that teams have so much incentive to put out lineups with teams that have no chance of winning. But I guess this is the advantage of playign in a league where individual wins primarily determine playoffs. We know that we have to put out the best lineup we can every week but we also know that we have to balance playtime enough to keep everyone on the team happy. Every team finds its balance.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013
    #26
  27. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,438
    Location:
    Atlanta
    How is this different than the current system? Isn't that sort of the definition of the best team?
     
    #27
  28. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,070
    There is another unintended consequence of moving to individual wins versus team wins.

    I have played in DC a few times, and DC uses individual wins to decides which team wins the flight. DC also charges a one-time registration fee of about $75 and no per-match court fee (so everyone pays $75 no matter how much or little they play).

    This stinks.

    Weak players don't get to play much, even against weak teams. This is because captains cannot afford a 3-2 result, whereas captains in "teams wins" leagues can afford that result.

    Worse, far worse, is what happens toward the end of the season.

    It becomes pretty clear that only the top 2-3 teams have any shot of advancing as weak teams are mathematically eliminated. So the bottom teams start having trouble getting their players to play (remember, players are also on teams in MD and VA, so DC is not the only game in town). Bottom teams start defaulting, especially on hot days or holiday weekends. This, of course, skews the results for the top teams because default wins are 6-0, 6-0 wins.

    This default problem doesn't happen with the team win concept. Even if you are 0-8 for team wins for the season, you still want to get one team win, just to save face. This is why the match between the two weakest team is often a death match, with both teams playing only for honor.

    Now that I have captained and played under both systems, I think the team wins concept is better overall.
     
    #28
  29. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Messages:
    4,058
    Location:
    NorCal Bay Area
    No no no!

    If I needed to try and take 5, they would never get a chance to play, period!

    All you keep reiterating is that stronger lineups would get fielded for each match if standings were based on individual wins. I get that - and I have no argument with that. You are right. But the cost of that is that weaker players get to play less. You think that is a good thing. Ok, from a selfish point of view, I kinda agree with you. But from a team captain point of view, I want to be more inclusive, not less. That's just me - maybe you are more ruthless.
     
    #29
  30. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Messages:
    4,058
    Location:
    NorCal Bay Area
    Please try explain that to Spot, since I seem to have failed miserably!
     
    #30
  31. schmke

    schmke Professional

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2010
    Messages:
    1,312
    Your point has been made well, Spot is just choosing to ignore it.
     
    #31
  32. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,438
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Orangepower- the point you are missing is that I do captain in an individual wins league and I know from personal experience how playtime is balanced. You can choose to be as ruthless as you wish but it is not a requirement for team success.

    I captain in an individual wins league. And the point is that when you actually do captain in these leagues then you decide as a captain how ruthless you want to be. We have a ridiculous number of teams in our friend group. One is completely ruthless and will put the best players out every week and only balance playtime so long as it takes to maintain a large enough roster to get through playoffs. They have moved up to the highest level of play and people on the team love the philosophy and even though they are ruthless they still have a ton of fun socially. Even then because everyone knows how ruthless they are then players who know they won't play end up dropping to a lower team where they can play more. The end result is that even on most the ruthless team even the lowest guy gets 2 or 3 matches. The most balanced team is a women's team that simply don't care about advancing to playoffs. They play everyone equally and the best players on the team will barely play any more than the weakest players on the team. There are balanced teams where everyone on the roster knows they can expect to play at least 2 times (given good availability) but that the best players will be in the lineup for the biggest weeks and for playoffs. Teams decide how ruthless they wish to be.

    Are there teams I have been on where we wish we could avoid playing someone? Sure. Particularly in mixed there are times win someone's significant other is out of level and we deal with it because mixed is inherently more social for us. And we deal with it by putting her with a stronger partner against the weakest teams which leads to more competitive matches. In a team wins league we would be putting her with another weak partner and would simply be OK with the fact that they are going to get stomped.

    Maybe you are so ruthless that you simply would not play the weakest player on your roster but that is not how I captain in individual leagues and that is not how any team I am aware of operates. Because you are in a team wins league when you decide to play your weakest players you pair them with other weak players because it is often completely irrelevant if they win and it is actually better for your team if it works out that they face one of the stronger teams on the other side. (even if that wasn't your intention) Because I am in an individual wins league when I play my weakest players I try and put them with a stronger player so that they have a better chance of winning. Maybe you think that you simply wouldn't play your weakest players but I just say from personal experience that isn't how it works for us. We play everyone and have to find ways to try and get them wins.

    No doubt that going with team wins gives you more flexibility as captain. But it also gives flexibility to captains to dump line 1. And flexibility to captains to manipulate people's ratings in meaningless matches. I think that flexibility leads to FAR less competitive matches and a significantly worse league experience overall.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
    #32
  33. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,438
    Location:
    Atlanta
    But this simply isn't true. YOu don't need to take 5 points every week in order to make playoffs. You can drop a significant number of points and still make playoffs every season. We have 7 week regular seasons and normally the top 2 teams make playoffs in an 8 team division (normally with a few third place teams also getting in). Taking 23 of the 35 points lets you make playoffs in every division I looked at but I didn't exhaustively search. You have at least 12 points you can drop over the season and still be perfectly fine. (and often significantly more than that...) Going to individual wins doesn't mean that you HAVE to take 5 every week. It just means that teams are given an incentive to try and do so.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
    #33
  34. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,438
    Location:
    Atlanta
    This is FAR from my experience in individual wins leagues. team wins make it very difficult to catch up where individual wins means that having a big week of taking 4 or 5 can put a team right back into playoff contention. Most teams have some chance of playoffs right up until the end. We have gone into the last week as the third place team needing to take 4 from the first place team in order to make playoffs and pulled it off. Individual wins means that teams are alive longer because one big result or bad result can completely change a season.

    I seem you recall you guys have LONG regular seasons where this is likely more of an issue. For our leagues we only have a 7 week regular season which does help to keep things close until the very end. In team wins leagues a team can be mathematically eliminated far earlier because it is so much more difficult to catch up.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
    #34
  35. Adles

    Adles Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2013
    Messages:
    164
    Location:
    NH
    We do individual wins in our league, which has led to this result: With one match to go, the first and second place teams have to play a date that was snowed out earlier in the season. We need a line of 2 wins and 3 losses or better to win the flight. 1-4 and we are tied, 0-5 and they win.

    Exciting for all people playing.

    Everyone on the team has played at least twice. Our league fees are low and the home team pays the court time.
     
    #35
  36. Angle Queen

    Angle Queen Professional

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2010
    Messages:
    838
    Location:
    On the deuce side, looking to come in
    Coin toss to decide: very lame. Rules should have been in place to deal with the (apparently) unthinkable...but the OP notes it's a new league and format and sometimes these things have to evolve. I really think a wait-n-see (if it matters) approach might have been more prudent, given that everyone had already gone home from the match. But I could also see where a season-ending one line-match, winner-takes-it-all could have been both more fair and infinitely more suspenseful and exciting.

    But to OrangePower and spot (and Cindy, too for that matter), managing a team to win certainly has many nuisances...many of which they elicited in their discussion. Differences in skill level of all their players, how they might match up against the various opposing teams, if stacking is banned/permitted, current standings, length of season and whether or not final standings are predicated on team wins or individual wins...all can play a major role in how a captain may put together a lineup. So I don't necessarily think either of you have it wrong or is being more/less ruthless.

    Where I do see some more room for discussion is what do you do when trying (or needing) to take as many lines as possible --- and you've got a fixed set of folks available....including a pair of strong players (both individually and/or as a prescribed partnership)...and a pair of weaker players. Do you break up the stronger guys, hoping they both can, individually, pull up each of the weaker players to get two wins? Or, do you keep the stronger pair together, hoping their line stands a much better chance at winning...and merely hope for the best with the weaker pair?

    OrangePower seemed to propose never playing the weaker pair at all...and instead having a completely different pair (presumably stronger) in the lineup. Sometimes, you can do that, sometimes, you just can't.

    Still, I'd be curious to hear how everyone might think the strong/strong + weak/weak combo might fare versus the strong/weak + strong/weak....might do (assuming we're still talking the same four players, just in different combinations). In the end, I think it'd probably come down to the actual and individual personalities.

    As for what I'd do: if my "pairs" are established, I'd much prefer to keep my strong players together. Call it the "go with what you know" philosophy. And hope the weaker pair can pull something special off with the "on any given day" mantra.

    Don't necessarily think there's a right and wrong answer, just one of the many things a captain's got to keep in mind when putting the team together initially and how to play it as the season progresses.
     
    #36
  37. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    2,639
    Location:
    Newtown, PA
    The short answer is that I'd keep the familiar pair together in general. I think consistency in doubles teams is important.

    However, the long answer is that it's going to be situation dependent. In a match wins league, if I'm an underdog in the match and have to swing for the fences to pull out 3 lines, I might consider splitting up the stronger players to try to compete on more courts if I think the weaker pair would be a noncompetitive blowout. On the other hand, if I think I'm favored in at least 3 lines, I'll definitely keep the strong pair together to avoid upsets, especially if the weaker pair can at least be competitive and make it a decent match fun for everyone, even if they are underdogs. I really dislike putting out teams where I KNOW there's going to be a blowout, either for or against my team. One of my primary goals is to get everyone in competitive matches.

    In a total lines league, I have to know where I'm at in the standings. If I'm ahead and think a split of the courts will keep me ahead, then I'll definitely keep the strong players together. If I'm behind and need to make up lines in the standings, I'd consider splitting them to get 2 lines instead of one.

    If I'm unsure what to do, I will keep the familiar teams together.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
    #37
  38. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,438
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Angle Queen- when needing to take as many lines as possible I'd generally prefer to split my 2 players and put them each with a partner who best fits what they need. ALTA is 5 lines of doubles which makes for a cleaner discussion. I've always thought it was pretty ridiculous of teams to put out a line 1 that would double bagel their line 5 considering that line 1 and line 5 count exactly the same. I'd rather split my good players and try and get 2 wins out of them. Personally I prefer to have the best player on the court with a partner that compliments them.

    I have long had a theory that some players make for great Lone Rangers and some players are great Tontos. Lone rangers can create chances for their partners or cover for weaknesses. Tontos are generally people who do a few things very well but aren't able to really carry or cover for a partner. (Sometimes very very good players make for better tontos) I HOPE that my 2 best players would be lone rangers.

    All that said- for me to split an established pairing that has had success I need a good reason to do so. I just prefer splitting my best players when line 1 and line 5 count exactly the same.
     
    #38
  39. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,438
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Funny- I tend to think exactly the opposite. The bigger the underdog the more I would think you would want to concentrate your best players. The bigger the favorite the more I would think you would want to be balanced because overall I know I am better and I just don't want to beat myself by overthinking something and have them catch me in exactly the wrong formation. My nightmare would be having my 2 best teams double bagel the other teams worst pairs while they won the other 3 lines.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
    #39
  40. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    2,639
    Location:
    Newtown, PA
    In my experience, there's a greater chance that if you water down multiple courts when you're favored, they both lose close matches when a split would have won the match.
     
    #40
  41. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,070
    Spot has correctly stated that it is very possible for weak players to get playing time -- just not on a playoff bound team.

    Spot, the problem here is you are comparing apples and oranges. In your post 32 above, you talk about how teams have different goals and levels of competitiveness/ruthlessness. That is true.

    So let's not talk about teams that are playing for fun, are playing up, are not interested in playoffs. Let's confine ourselves to the teams hoping to advance. In our area, I would imagine that the top 1/3 of teams each season are realistically hoping to win the flight and advance.

    Now, Tennislink is down at the moment, but I would expect that when I check 2012 results, I will see that the top team edged the second-place team by 1-2 courts.

    If you know that dropping 1-2 extra courts over the course of the season could prevent you from advancing, you will do line-ups to make sure you win as many courts as possible. Against strong teams, you will play your strongest players.

    What do you do against weak teams?

    Well, that is where things get tricky. In a team wins league, it is not hard. I will put out my stars on three courts and put four weak players in for doubles. I might even "sacrifice" one of the weak pairs on Court One, just to make sure my strong players win. That means I can safely put my weak players in the line-up against the bottom 1/3 of teams.

    In an individual wins league, I simply cannot do that. I will have to play the weak players twice to qualify them for sectionals. So I will sneak them in somewhere, probably with a strong partner who can carry them against a weak team. Instead of putting out four weak players, I can only put out two. So my weak players don't get as many chances to play.

    I was on an individual wins team a few years back, and it was bound and determined to advance. I was weak. I played exactly one match with a strong partner (and received one default win). I am not complaining -- I knew the team goal going in.

    But since I paid $75 to register, that was one awfully expensive match.
     
    #41
  42. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,438
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Not at all. Every team that I know that made the playoffs played every person on their roster at least twice. They played the weaker players where they thought that they could get wins. Sometimes this is against weaker teams, sometimes its against a stronger team and they have a stronger partner. EVERY playoff team balances playtime to some degree.

    They don't get a chance to play only if you choose not to play them. You could put them in matches agianst middle of the pack teams with a strong partner and still get the win if you choose to. You are choosing to be more ruthless as a captain which is your choice- but it is certainly a choice.

    And you knew the team philosophy going in. I don't see the issue. You joined a very competitive team and they told you that up front. There are other teams where they would balance play time more even if it could possibly cost them the playoffs. Maybe you needed every single point to make the playoffs. For our teams we know that there are a certain number of points we can drop during the season and still qualify and will balance our playtime accordingly.

    But sure- if you are the bottom player on a roster that is built to be extremely competitive then there are times you will be skipped in the lineup for stronger players. There are many other teams that have a different philosophy.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
    #42
  43. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,070
    Spot,

    The point is a simple one. We are talking about incentives and the cost of those incentives.

    Individual wins format gives competitive teams the incentive to avoid the risk of a loss more than in teams win format. Surely we can agree on that?

    If so, then we can observe the consequences of that incentive-- reduced play opportunities in individual wins leagues.
     
    #43
  44. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Messages:
    4,058
    Location:
    NorCal Bay Area
    I think your argument is circular. You're saying individual wins encourages captains to put out stronger lineups every week, and you're saying that's a benefit. But now you're also saying that in your experience you can afford to drop individual points and so play your weaker players as well... so not put out your strongest lineup each week.

    Of course the choice of competitive balance (wins vs playing time for weaker players) is ultimately up to the captain, under either structure.

    But the logic is clear: The more incentive there is for captains to put out the strongest lineup for each line every week, the less the weaker players are going to play - at least on teams that care about doing well.

    Anyway, I don't think we are going to convince each other, so let's agree to disagree.
     
    #44
  45. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,070
    OK. TennisLink is back up.

    In the DC ladies 4.0 league, the team that won the flight and advanced to sectionals had 37 individual wins. The second-place team had 36 individual wins.

    In the DC men's 4.0 league, the team that won the flight and advanced to sectionals had 48 individual wins; second place had 47 individual wins.

    Any captain who figures he can drop a few lines to get his weak players into the line-up more than twice is not going to sectionals.

    Regarding the tendency of non-competitive teams in individual leagues to default once they are eliminated, here are some facts.

    In the spring men's 4.0 league in DC, there were 12 matches on the last day of the season. Two of those matches were five-court defaults, and another was a five-court double-default. I assume these were rain-cancelled matches from earlier in the season that no one bothered to reschedule.

    The interesting bit is this: Of the remaining 9 team matches (that's 45 individual courts) that were contested, there were 10 defaults. So yes, it is very hard to get people to show up in individual match leagues once they know they are out of the running.
     
    #45
  46. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,438
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Cindy- how many matches are in the regular season? I am dealing with leagues where there are 7 weeks of regular season and 2 or 3 teams advance to playoffs which does give teams margin for error. I think its a pretty ridiculous league where you ahve a long regular season and just 1 team advancing.

    Though I would think that as far as teams being eliminated early if you are talking about team wins then the problem would be even more exacerbated since teams would be out of playoff contention far earlier.
     
    #46
  47. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,438
    Location:
    Atlanta
    I think that for any group of 10 players, the team wins format gives captains INCENTIVE to have noncompetitive lines if they can use their worst player against the other teams best. So sure- you can say that there is less risk of loss if you wish to say it that way, I jsut can't see how that is considered a good thing. I just don't see it as a beneift for the league that in many situations you have incentive to put out non-competitive lines and hope that they face the other team's best players as it makes the rest of your lineup stronger.

    Maybe you think that it makes your job easy as captain. But it also makes it easy for captains to try and put out their worst players against your best. It makes it easy for players to manipulate their ratings in a completely meaningless match. In USTA teams have no incentive at all to try and win every line. I am just a big believer in incentives and I think that teams should be given incentive to compete at every line. I have no idea why this is a controversial statement.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
    #47
  48. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Messages:
    4,058
    Location:
    NorCal Bay Area
    Not controversial, and I don't disagree with that.

    I have just been trying to point out that one side effect of competing to the fullest at every line is that weaker players will get used less. That's it.

    Actually if the goal is to set up the most competitive matches at every line, then the lines need to be weighted by order of strength. Reposted from something I said ealier in this thread:

    Rather than giving a point per line, matches would be something like:
    5 points - #1 singles
    3 points - #2 singles
    5 points - #1 dubs
    4 points - #2 dubs
    3 points - #3 dubs
    Season standings would be based on cumulative total points.
     
    #48
  49. Angle Queen

    Angle Queen Professional

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2010
    Messages:
    838
    Location:
    On the deuce side, looking to come in
    I also did some looking around at our metro area leagues from last year. In our most popular league (Spring Adult Weekend...and excluding the 2.5s/5.0 because their flights are so small), we had 15 flights with 145 teams. That averages out to ~10 teams per flight and our seasons are, accordingly, about 9 weeks. There were a few flights with 8 or 9 teams, while some had as many as 12.

    Here we use 'team wins, followed by individual wins, sets lost, games lost' to determine flight winners. Generally speaking, only the flight winner advances to Districts. Occasionally, one extra or at-large team is given a spot. The number of "slots" are well-established and determined by USTA/Virginia (based on the number of overall teams participating at any one level for that league).

    Of those 15 flights, 6 had one or more teams tied in team wins. Individual wins, then, determined the flight winners. And, like Cindy found in DC, sometimes it was only a one individual win differential. What I clearly found, though, was no team had more individual wins yet still lost their flight (based on team wins).

    But our "team" dynamics are vastly different here in our area. Most of our USTA teams are club or neighborhood based and it's virtually impossible to "build a team" with the expressed intent on advancing, as most clubs/Rec Associations have fairly strict rules on how many "outsiders" can participate on their teams, if it's even permitted at all.

    Another difference we have from DC...is much broader: their flight winners proceed directly to Sectionals. Our area's flight winners must slog through an arduous and expensive District tournament to get to the same place.

    Conversely, unlike DC, we have few defaults at/near season's end, even for teams that aren't "in it." Maybe it's because we are club/hood based, there's still a bit of pride in finishing it out....and because sometimes, a team can play the role of spoiler. So even in the team environment, every individual win can still count.

    Even though stacking is clearly permitted in USTA play, most of the teams around here tend to play it straight up...giving most of the lines a "competitive" match. I have noticed, though, over the past few years, particularly from some captains who have gone on to Districts, or ones for the rare true independent/all-star teams...they'll stack, if for nothing else sometimes I think...just to be different or ornery.

    In contrast, I also play in a non-USTA league...that, while still team-win based, is played without USTA-NTRP yet requires playing "in order of strength." The team dynamics in that league is vastly different...even though, here again, they're club or neighborhood based. It's also a relegation style advancement/demotion and I think that also makes it more self-regulatory, from a individuals ranking/placement perspective. Sure, a team can have a "ringer," but unless they can keep them (happy), once said "star" leaves, they/the team often drops back to where they "belong."

    Now in that league, at the half way point (of a 14-week season split over the school year into a Fall and Spring season) the team I'm on is in 1st place because we're 7-0. The team in 2nd is only 5-2 yet has as many "individual" wins as we do and 9 fewer games lost. Our captain has done a masterful job of managing a series of 6 (of the 7) 4-3 wins. We play 3 lines of singles, 4 of doubles and our team is blessed with a very solid core. It's been a real mixture of which lines win each week; we could just as easily be 1-6. And, in fact, that's what's happened to the very last-place team. They are 1-6....and lost every match 3-4.

    Are we that much better than them, team-wise or even skill-set wise? Nope. I'll be real curious to see how the second half of the season shakes out.
     
    #49
  50. Angle Queen

    Angle Queen Professional

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2010
    Messages:
    838
    Location:
    On the deuce side, looking to come in
    I really like this idea...with the exception that I'd still prefer team wins to dictate the overall flight standings, with total points or even head-to-head determining the winner in the case of a tie.

    I though USTA is, after all, supposed to be a "team" sport.

    What I really like about your proposal is it puts the onus on the team captain to determine "order of strength" rather than (D)NTRP or merely convention. Seriously, captains know their team players better than any computer ever could. Sometimes it's about the matchup with the upcoming team, sometimes it's a player's mindset. I have one teammate who complete freaks if she's asked to play Line 1...even though we've been on teams in the past where she truly was one of the teams top players. I also know the opposite: a teammate who thinks she's #1 dubs...but doesn't understand when the captain puts her at #2 (because, sometimes, that's the most crucial line to win).

    And because it's a good idea,






    it'll never happen.
     
    #50

Share This Page