NTRP purgatory

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by leech, Sep 13, 2012.

  1. leech

    leech Rookie

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    This may be a premature post, but I suspect that (A) I'll be bumped up from 3.5 to 4.0 next season and (B) I'll have difficulty winning any matches or even being competitive at that level.

    I'm new to organized tennis and started playing USTA leagues this year. I have horrible form but am able to get to a lot of balls. I prefer playing singles, and played exclusively singles for my adult league team. Although most of the games were competitive, I finished the season undefeated. I didn't play any doubles matches or make any attempt to make my match scores artificially closer, so I assume I'll be bumped up.

    My problem is that I don't think I'll be invited to play singles at 4.0 (rightfully so, as I'd be among the worst players at that level) and I am horrible at doubles. Primarily because I'm so used to having the whole court to work with playing singles, it's difficult for me to return serves where they need to go (avoiding the net player). And the pace/placement of 4.0 servers are much harder for me to deal with. I've gotten a taste of it playing in the 7.5 combo league now, and I've not done well at all. In contrast, I'm breezing through the 6.5 combo league because no one that I've played hits with much pace.

    So I'm not looking forward to the next USTA season. I figure I'll have to take my lumps playing doubles in the 4.0 league (I feel sorry for the team that picks me up) and either get better as the season progresses, or get bumped down. I don't know how likely it is for someone to get bumped down.

    Did you feel overwhelmed by the competition after getting bumped up? How long did it take you to adjust and feel competitive? I feel like I don't belong at 4.0, but realize that I'm too good a match player for 3.5 (my strokes are not up to par for a typical 3.5 player; a teammate gave me a backhanded compliment by saying I play a lot better than I look!).
     
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  2. Mongolmike

    Mongolmike Professional

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    Seems like a forced opportunity to improve your game... and there are a lot of paths to do that. I do see many 3.5s and 4.0s who have unorthodox swings... and if that's what you have, that doesn't mean you can't play at that level. Keep in mind, if your self evaluation is correct, you'll most likely be playing 2nd or 3rd doubles, or maybe 2nd singles.... most nights (unless there is stacking going on) you won't be matched against the opponents best players anyway, but 2nd tier players with holes in their games too. But again, isn't it about having fun and trying to continually improve your game?
     
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  3. Mike Y

    Mike Y Rookie

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    When you move up a level, you have to work on your game, otherwise you will be stuck at that level. If you have weaknesses, work on them. If you are a well-rounded player, but don't have a lot of strengths, work on developing a strength. You are probably closer than you think if you have some glaring weaknesses. If you fix those, then you will likely be competitive. My backhand used to be a weakness, and when I got bumped I made a point to work on my backhand, and now it is a strength, and that makes a huge difference in my game, I don't have a side that is really attackable now (for my level).
     
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  4. leech

    leech Rookie

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    You're right, maybe the bottom tier 4.0 players that I'll likely face are in a similar situation as me. I just need to find a 4.0 team that isn't hell-bent on winning; think they'll need some patience with me.

    I do want to get better, of course, but I really don't like doing drills or getting instruction. I realize this is a choice and there are consequences, but I prefer to use my court time playing matches. I like winning and don't mind losing if it's a competitive match, but getting blown out is no fun. I will work on my doubles game/strategy and hope it pays dividends soon! Thanks for the perspective/encouragement.
     
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  5. leech

    leech Rookie

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    My main strength is my consistency and resilience. I have quite a few weaknesses, including a lack of a consistent, attacking serve, poor poaching skills, and just general lack of pace on my groundstrokes. I think I can improve my positioning and net play through experience playing doubles, but I don't think I'll make more than marginal improvements in my serve/groundstrokes. I'm 40, and probably on the decline in my tennis game that relies on my legs.
     
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  6. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    Don't sell yourself short. A guy near me has horrible strokes, nothing for a serve, and knees that give him fits. He is the junk ball king of pushers. He got bumped from 4.0 to 4.5 and thought similar to you.

    What he didn't realize is that his anticipation skills are quite good and he has an innate ability to not miss. He went over .500 for the 4.5 adult league last spring and is known as someone you'd hate to face on a hot day on clay.

    Give yourself a chance before mailing it in.
     
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  7. goober

    goober Legend

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    play singles in a flex league and maybe tournaments if you are so inclined. Play doubles on your regular 4.0 team. It will help your singles game and eventually you may even like it.

    I started out playing only singles. My first season of USTA league play, I got bumped to a 4.5B because my team went to playoffs. I was way overmatched at 4.5 league singles and I was a subpar doubles player (even for 4.0) so I ended up not playing much at the next season. So I started playing a lot more doubles in practice. Now that I am getting older I hardly play any singles any more.
     
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  8. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    I"m much the same as you. Much better singles player. I'm horrible at net. Being forced to get better at net would not be a bad thing. It will help round your game off.

    You may do better than you think. You should practice your serves whenever you can. Video them, look at what you're doing wrong and fix it.
     
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  9. leech

    leech Rookie

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    Fortunately I am in singles tennis ladder and have been fairly active in it. I have played 25 matches there (vs. a mix of 3.5 and 4.0 players and even one 4.5 player), in addition to my 8 USTA leage singles matches, so I get to play quite a bit. I didn't like the Flex league b/c the competition was not great -- it seemed half the players were playing up and it was not fun for either of us. I also signed up for a tournament this weekend, so that's another outlet to get my singles groove on.

    I am playing a lot more doubles now than I ever have, being in a 6.5 and 7.5 combo league and playing social mixed doubles with my wife. Eventually I'll get the hang of it, I hope! I feel a lot of pressure to get my first serve in, or else exposing my partner as a target when they blast my weak second serve back at him. Something else to work on for me!
     
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  10. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I just don't get it!
    Say you're at a bar and meet a hottie. Conversation shifts to tennis, she asks you what level do you play? You're gonna say you're a 3.5? Like beginner level competitive tennis?
    Wouldn't you look better saying you play 4.5 or Open level tennis?
    Now shift your hottie to a bunch of jocks. Same thing.
    I won my second C or 3.5 tourney my 3rd year. I entered 12 consecutive A/Opens after that, and 2 Q's. Only lost in the first round a handful of times, and going 3 rounds in both the Q's for the TransAmerica tourney in SanFrancisco.
    Why waste time cheery picking?
     
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  11. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    If you went undefeated at 3.5 as a self-rated player I would have thought some 4.0 team would have already taken a chance on you. I think you're selling yourself short in your ability to improve too. I didn't start playing league tennis until I was 47 and after 5 years of being a stagnant 3.5 with a marginal record I've worked my ass off to improve my fitness and technique and got bumped in my local league to 4.0 and I have to believe I'm very close to getting the USTA 4.0 bump as well. I'd was undefeated in 3.5 singles at 53 last year against computer-rated 3.5s but I also kept running into undefeated self-rated 3.5 players such as yourself.:) At least I was glad to see that all four of them I lost to was Early Start Rated at 4.0.
     
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  12. leech

    leech Rookie

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    Funny thing is, I like going to net as much as possible when playing singles. But I wait for an opportunity, like a short ball or after I hit a nice approach shot. I don't like being up at net in doubles from the git-go. In fact, when I play with my wife, we both start the point near the baseline and I try to sneak my way up to net at some point during the point. Maybe I can try that with more other partners. I feel so out of the point when I'm hovering in a corner up at net. I guess I can experiment with more aggressive poaching.
     
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  13. leech

    leech Rookie

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    I would love to be proved wrong, but I think my natural talent level is at 3.5. I don't feel I'm playing down below my level. I think the chasm between the level of play at 3.5 and at 4.0 is rather large. Will see if I can make the adjustments necessary to compete. I'd love to be able to play well at the next level, but my rather limited experience playing 4.0s in my 7.5 combo league made me question whether I was ready for it.
     
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  14. leech

    leech Rookie

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    That's awesome, beernutz, I'm glad your hard work paid off.

    I have been approached by two 4.0 captains, one which fields uber-competitive teams and the other which has no playoff aspirations. I'm playing on the 7.5 team of the competitive captain, and I've performed underwhelmingly (1 win and 2 losses, but more importantly, played horribly in the two losses). I'm inclined to go with the lower pressure team (and might not have a choice, given how bad I've been playing).
     
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  15. leech

    leech Rookie

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    I have doubts that I'd be a winning player at 3.5 doubles. I suspect that had I played a mix of doubles and singles this year, I would be in no position to be bumped up. But I was not thinking of anything other than helping my team win matches. Fortunately, my individual wins were not in vain, as our team pulled out a bunch of 3-2 wins to advance to Districts (where we lost both matches), despite not having the best players.
     
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  16. Ronaldo

    Ronaldo G.O.A.T.

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    Get instruction and drill, play points at least once a week. You hate it but worth it in the long run. Like 5-20 yrs later.
     
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  17. leech

    leech Rookie

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    I think you're right, on both counts (hating it and it being good for me in the long run). Perhaps I'll see how the first year goes without drilling/instruction, sort of as a baseline (my "before" state to which I can compare my "after" state). Then take a doubles clinic or something next summer.
     
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  18. Ronaldo

    Ronaldo G.O.A.T.

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    Lucky to have an entire team willing to practice 3 times a week for nearly 6 yrs and take lessons on doubles strategy and drill. At least talk to more experienced players to discover what position to play under certain circumstances.
     
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  19. tenniscasey

    tenniscasey Semi-Pro

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    You went undefeated at 3.5, so you shouldn't be there anymore. You'll lose more than you win as a low 4.0, just like almost every other low 4.0. The system is working as designed. I don't really understand how this creates "purgatory."
     
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  20. Ronaldo

    Ronaldo G.O.A.T.

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    Purgatory is the place sandbaggers go to suffer after sandbagging.
     
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  21. leech

    leech Rookie

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    I don't fault the system for moving me up; I know my results dictate that. It's just the fact that I'm a bad doubles player combined with the fact that I will be playing much better players that makes me feel that I'm not quite ready for 4.0. I don't see it as a flaw in the system, but think I'm too good for 3.5 singles and not good enough for 4.0 (singles or doubles) at the moment.
     
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  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    It's called "learning to play better tennis".
    You progress faster with a crash course, might get complacent and stay 3.5 foreever if you only play 3.5 level players.
    How to get used to 4.5 pace? Just hit with a 5.5, and very 4.5 is a weak hitter.
     
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  23. leech

    leech Rookie

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    Point taken. I do play matches against a lot of players better than me (regardless of their NTRP rating) on the tennis ladder I'm a part of. Just about everyone above me hits harder than me, and we have some good matches. I'll continue to do that.

    Just in USTA leagues that I feel I'll be out of my league (b/c I likely won't be selected to play singles and would be a liability at doubles at least the first year). Maybe I'll improve over the years and my apprehension is unwarranted. Will be happy to provide an update next year!
     
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  24. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I won't kid you: The bump to 4.0 from 3.5 stinks.

    I've been bumped three times, and each time it is hard to get used to the new level. Two things help.

    One is working on fitness. Fortunately, this is free and can be a do-it-yourself project.

    The other is working on your strokes and improving your technique and footwork. That may require instruction, which is not free.

    Still, I think parking yourself at the low end of any NTRP level is no fun. So I keep working at my game.
     
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  25. jhick

    jhick Semi-Pro

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    Better than the situation I was in. I got bumped to 5.0, then moved to a place where there are not enough guys to form a 5.0 league. Luckily my national benchmark rating become a computer rating after sitting out for a year and I was within the threshold to computer appeal back down to 4.5.
     
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  26. leech

    leech Rookie

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    Thanks for sharing your experience getting bumped up and how you've adjusted. I don't think I have the level of dedication to this sport as you do; I'm impressed by your unwillingness to settle. I also enjoy your posts on league drama!
     
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  27. leech

    leech Rookie

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    Just came back from a ladder match vs. an experienced USTA league veteran. He told me something that makes me feel better about my subpar performance thus far in 7.5 combo. He said that only the best 4.0s get asked to play 7.5, so I'm likely seeing better servers in this league than I will in a regular 4.0 men's league. Hope that's true.
     
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  28. jmverdugo

    jmverdugo Hall of Fame

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    You should give it a try, IMO the hardest part would be to find a team.

    I think that if you are doing so well at 3.5 you probably only need to get use to a few things to do a decent job at 4.0:

    1. The ball will come back more often. be ready
    2. People hit better shots more times - they consistently hit good shots. Be ready.
    3. Faster pace, for this you just have to play more to get used to it.
    4. Get in better shape, it is amazing how that change in pace and type of ball can affect your physical condition, you will find that having to get ready faster and to hit back some balls takes a lot of energy, even if they are directed at you.
    5. Be faster, IMO this is at least 60% a mental thing, remember yourself to be ready faster, to recover from your serve faster, to start running faster, you will be really tired the first times but you will get there.
    6. Be smart, people dont just hit the ball back, they place it in the right spot most of the time.

    Another thing, 40 is not old! you have plenty of time to get better, it will take time and you will lose some matches (a lot actually!) but you will get there. Personally I am a very competitive player, I play to win and while tennis is about having fun I certainly have a lot of more fun wining than losing, however, there is a point when winning 60 60 is not fun anymore and losing in 3 sets to really good players becomes a heck of an accomplishment and you end up with a smile in your face eventhough you lost, now imagine when you start winning!
     
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  29. IA-SteveB

    IA-SteveB Professional

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    Excellent analysis. I am still far from advancing to 4.0 but I have hit with several 4.5 players who didn't exactly take it easy on me. You are spot on with your comments.

    For me, getting any farther will require coaching. I played for a year in high school and then didn't play again until this year and I am 40. :) I credit hitting with friends that are 4+ for forcing me to be a 3.5 with no instruction or lessons ever. I have no choice but to adapt and fitness/athleticism is my ally.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2012
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  30. cknobman

    cknobman Legend

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    To get more singles in play tournaments.

    It will be better for your game anyways as you will see a wider variety of game styles and most likely you see better competition at some point.
     
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  31. leech

    leech Rookie

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    Will do, although it is tough to set aside an entire weekend to tennis while dealing with other aspects of my life. I am playing a tournament this weekend (first match tonight). I wanted to sign up for both 3.5 and 4.0, but this tournament does not allow participants to play in more than one event.

    And I played my 26th singles ladder match last night; definitely see a wide variety of styles there. The style that I have trouble against most is one where the opponent blasts forehand winner after forehand winner down the line!
     
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  32. leech

    leech Rookie

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    Thanks for offering your analysis.

    I'm like you in that I enjoy winning immensely more than losing, but always like to have a competitive match. I've been fortunate to be in a ladder where there are easily a dozen guys that are in my range of skill/fitness where we can and have gone three sets. I'm not discouraged if I play well and lose, but my recent doubts came to the forefront after not playing very well in my 7.5 combo matches versus opponents I likely will face in the 4.0 league next season.
     
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  33. emilyhex

    emilyhex Rookie

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    I think you should man up and play 4.0 regardless if you get bumped. Find a team where they are short on singles players, which seems to be in abundance where I live. If you get put on doubles, then take your shots and learn from your mistakes. It's just tennis, it's not like you are performing irreversible brain surgery on someone. And worse case scenario, you get beat and bumped back down to where you are obviously more comfortable. Win-win. Go get 'em tiger.
     
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  34. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    "Skill" level between entry level and top tier players of an NTRP range differ drastically. Also, many people are "type casted" into these roles because people (on this forum especially) seem to have each NTRP level laid out in their minds.

    I have seen 4.0's with 100+ mph serves, but I have also seen 4.5's with solid 80 mph serves, with high spin. I have seen 3.0's with 70 mph forehands, but no backhands, or volleys. I have seen solid 4.5 "Continental" all around players that will almost never make an error. I have seen 4.5 players who played college a few years back...

    Really, NTRP is just a rating system and does not define the player at all. The best thing about playing up a level is that you're challenging yourself to get better. You also have to realize that at some point you will plateau and you will be low to mid range (because thats NTRP's design) and you will have to accept that level, or sandbag down.

    Most players will try to move down. Great players will try to move up. Dont sell yourself short, or rely on NTRP to define you.
     
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  35. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    I have been bumped twice but in each case I felt the same challenges. Dealing with increased pace and consistency.

    The way I see it ... your choices are (1) to refine your game and get better strokes. OR you could (2) practice the snot out of your poor strokes until you can make them work for you at the next level.

    I think both can work for you as you move to the next level higher ... refining your strokes probably gives you more upside but simply adjusting to increased pace will help considerably.

    Clearly 3.5 does not give you enough challenge so you should embrace some 4.0 action.
     
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  36. leech

    leech Rookie

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    I should have put this in my original post, but in my singles ladder, I've played 26 matches overall and am 6-6 vs. opponents with an NTRP rating of 3.5. I seemed to have been matched up against inferior opponents during my USTA league season and gotten some fortunate breaks for me to have gone 8-0 in league play, but it's not quite so clear that 3.5 does not challenge me enough.
     
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  37. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    Be careful with unsanctioned leagues if thats what youre talking about. It's quite common to see a "Jeckyl and Hyde" thing going on when you see the same person playing in two different leagues, one being sanctioned and one not.

    When NTRP is on the line people tend to be dramatically worse than when its not.

    Two weeks ago I played against a 4.0 girl who was obviously way overrated. I was talking with my partner about her later and she says she remembers playing that lady in 4.0/8.0 and that she thinks her 4.0 rating is because people dump to her, lol. Honestly, I would say that lady was a mid 3.0 at best, but somehow overtime ended up a 4.0 "C".
     
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  38. mib

    mib New User

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    I don't think you need to worry. Undefeated record at 3.5 translates to a better than average at 4.0.
     
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  39. Taxvictim

    Taxvictim Semi-Pro

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    Hey, start your own 4.0 team and put yourself in singles #2. Done and done.
     
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  40. backttennis

    backttennis New User

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    I just played my first season USTA in the summer and received my early start rating.

    If I do not join a fall/winter USTA team or play again before year-end ratings come out, is my early start rating going to definitely be my year-end rating, or could it be adjusted up or down due to other factors even if I do not play again before year end?

    Our summer team did not do that well or go to districts. Also, another self-rated player who I beat (her first match) now has a dynamic rating which could possibly affect the year end calculations, I would think.

    It's not a huge concern, I'm just curious because I'm still trying to decide if I want to play USTA in the winter.
     
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  41. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

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    Early start ratings are only valid until the year end rating comes out. You can keep playing on the teams you already signed up for with the ES rating, but all subsequent teams you sign up for have to be using the YE rating.
     
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  42. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    The early start ratings are a snapshot of what your dynamic rating is at the time they take the snapshot. So, if you have not played since the snapshot was taken your exact current rating is into the next band.

    At the end of the year, when all the national championships have been played they will compare sections and adjust ratings. Essentially, if you beat someone who then goes onto nationals and destroys everyone there your rating will likely go up, because one of your opponents perfromed well at the national level. However, it can go either way.

    Last year I was early start raised to the next level after going 7-2 between districts and sectionals ... however, our section representative had a so-so nationals and they turned back the dial in our section and most players that were early start bumps got lowered at year end.

    Also last year, there were 3 guys in our district who had decent seasons in the regular season but had no post season play. They were not early start bump ups, but at the end of the season they received year end bump-ups. I am not sure why.

    The section ratings lady explained that they did not have direct contact with the national team so they were affected differently than we were.

    The fact of the matter is that all you can draw from being an early start bump is that you are close to the line. There is a good chance you could get the call in November, but it could easily go the other way.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012
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  43. backttennis

    backttennis New User

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    That's about how I thought it worked. I note that many players who got bumped up last year in early start ratings subsequently lost that move up, and I don't think it was solely determined by their play in the few matches in between. I was told that there are some more complicated year end calculations that can have an effect on many ratings.
     
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  44. mib

    mib New User

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    I've seen a guy who got bumped up to 4.5 (from 4.0), had a winning (>50%) record there and then got moved back to 4.0. Go figure.
     
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  45. backttennis

    backttennis New User

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    Yes, their algorithm isn't perfect. I've seen quite a few underrated and overrated players at my club. And the calculations can be off when comparing doubles and singles players, for instance. They're really different games.

    Despite this, the levels create cliques who won't play people below their own level.
     
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  46. Angle Queen

    Angle Queen Professional

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    Stepping aside from some of the subsequent discussion: like the OP, I feel like I am in NTRP Purgatory. Been a 3.5 for awhile, a long while. Many of my teammates were bumped up and, because of benevolent captains, I've had the opportunity to play up too. Admittedly...I've only had mixed success there, mostly, I think, because I've been asked to played singles (because no one else would/could) or with unfamiliar doubles partners (because my regulars are injured). At my rated level, though, I have little trouble.

    But am I complaining? Heck no. I am most fortunate to be where I am in this station of life, in my personal life and on the tennis court. I'm lucky that my captains have me on their teams, regardless of the NTRP "number" beside my name....because of my on-court skill-set and my whole attitude towards the game.

    So OP, I say to you, take what the computer gives you and run with it. Use any and every connection you have to find a team willing to take you on....and make it worth their while. Show up to any team practices, offer to organize them if no one else does, play with whoever wherever whenever....and you'll find you fit in. Whether you win at the new level or not. Adjustment may take a season or two, but it'll be fun. And that's what it's all about. :)

    Cheers, mate...and keep us posted on how the USTA computer treats thee.
     
    #46
  47. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2012
    Messages:
    547
    That's not the way it is for me. I play casual tennis with all levels ranging from the occasional 2.5 and 5.0, as a 3.0, and people here really dont care about your NTRP as long as you can play.

    My normal range is 3.0-4.0 though, but that's probably because most of the people are rated between there.

    There are some cliques of 4.0+ people who dont play below them, but that really depends on your skills and not necessarily your NTRP. I suppose in an extreme circumstance, it could be your personality too.
     
    #47
  48. backttennis

    backttennis New User

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2012
    Messages:
    53
    I agree. I've only seen cliques an issue at 4.0 and 4.5 at my indoor club. (I think outdoor tennis tends to be a bit more open and flexible.) A guy I play with who is a 3.5 was told he had to leave a cardio tennis group because the other men said he wasn't strong enough and they only wanted 4.0 players in it. Cardio tennis? Now that to me is cliquey!
     
    #48

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