The USTA rating system and self-rated players

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by aidenous, Jul 24, 2007.

  1. aidenous

    aidenous Semi-Pro

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    Yes, this is another thread about USTA and the rating system. Especially the self rating part. This is my third year of playing USTA and I'm still at the 3.0 level. The frustrating part is how self rated players are allowed to play at a level way below their ability. Yes, the computer will catch them and bump them up but In some cases it's not until after the season. So, we are the ones who had to play them and next season it's a continuous cycle. More new 3.0 self rated players.

    I have numerous examples of this but I'll give my last match as example. My wife and I played mixed doubles this past weekend at the higher 7.0 level and won. I had to play with a different partner 30 minutes later at the 6.0 level and she has a great record and will probably be bumped up to 3.5 at the end of the season. Watching our opponents warm up I was confused for a minute that this was the 7.0 but no this was the 6.0 match and this should be 3.0 players. The lady could play a solid 3.5 and the guy well, I'm not exaggerating he could play 4.5. He had angles, spin, top spin with more speed then anyone I have played against. His serve was deadly and never double faulted and he had a kick serve so strong
    that the only time I have seen this was against one of the club pros at our practice. My partner never was able to return a serve. She got hit by one of his returns at net and she could barely use her hand. Lucky it was her tossing hand. Today I found out she went to the doctor and her thumb was broken.

    I knew he had to be a self-rated player and afterwards I looked him up and sure enough he was and the men's team he was on just played in districts where he went 5-0. Yet he hasn't gotten bumped. You would have though he would have three strikes by now.

    The USTA wants to promote and increase their membership but they have no clue why so many people get frustrated with the system and quit. I wonder if they will ever understand that their system needs fixing. On the opposite side of this is seeing players getting bumped up when they shouldn't and aren't ready for the next level. I wonder if all the levels are like this or just the lower level like 3.0? Thanks for letting me vent.
     
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  2. volleyman

    volleyman Semi-Pro

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    It can cut both ways. This year, a self-rated player on my 4.0 team got bumped to 4.5 and DQed by the computer after the last match of the season.

    My team won its group at Districts, and then, in the finals, surprise, surprise, found ourselves facing several "computer-rated" 4.0s at least as good, and in two cases, better, based on what I saw, than our guy who got DQed.

    So, the all-infallible computer (remember, there is no appeal for a computer DQ) either erred when it DQed my teammate, or it erred in allowing those other guys to keep playing 4.0. Not that USTA would ever admit to such a thing.

    Don't get me wrong - I like the NTRP system in general. It, or something like it, is necessary. And I understand that having the computer handle the heavy lifting of determining rankings is necessary.

    What I object to is having the computer be the sole authority, with no human oversight. It's obvious that the black box logic is flawed, and that the computer is being successfully gamed.
     
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  3. aidenous

    aidenous Semi-Pro

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    Does anyone remember if it was better before the self rating was put in place?
     
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  4. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    This weekend I am playing 4.0 doubles in a tourney and I looked at the competitors and two 4.0 guys I have never beaten and I have won all my 4.5 matches this year so I am a very strong 4.0. Why haven't these two other guys been bumped up already? One used to be 4.5 but asked for a medical exemption and has since been hiding out by playing doubles where the scores are closer but he still wins most every match even with a weaker 4.0 player. These guys won't play 4.5 because they would win a fair share there and get bumped up. The system is screwed because it allows for too large a range of players within one level and doesn't bump people up fast enough. It should be more fluid and allow people to move down more quickly too. Every one should find their level within about 10 matches or so.
     
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  5. johnny ballgame

    johnny ballgame Professional

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    That stinks. Kswiss (or ultimatetennis) has solved that problem this way: If a loss against a first-season player who was "playing down" prevents you from moving up, you get to move up anyway. It also works the other way. If a win against a first-season player who should have been playing at a much lower level allows you to be bumped up, you don't have to go. You can stay at the same level.

    An extreme average margin of victory or defeat is what determines if a first-season player was not at the appropriate level. Pretty good system.
     
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  6. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    I think what is happening is for every 5 or more players who are under-rated the computer only manages to catch one of them. So a lot of us are happy that it managed to at least catch one of them, although the rest of you are going to be unhappy because obviously it's going to be inconsistant.

    You can blame the league for that, for every kink the rule they made to get people moved up, they add another recourse because some in the league are worried that too many people will get moved up.

    This is because in the beginning of DNTRP the league wanted to claim that somehow "people dont mis rate themselves" and they wanted to believe that the league wasnt really screwed up at that point.

    I think it's much better now. It's never going to be perfect but in the past the only people that were happy with it were the teams that happened to win every year. It's just more obvious and annoying now because you can easily see what rules people are trying to avoid to get around it.
     
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  7. SB

    SB Rookie

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    I haven't noticed any difference at all, but that's because I'm a woman.

    I think women often self-rate too high. So, the only sandbagging issues we get are from those who appeal down after getting moved up, and that's easier to control. Most of those I know who appeal down are going from 5.0 to 4.5, and the main reason is not that they aren't winning; it's that there are too few women at level, thus far fewer opportunities at tournaments and leagues. They can tank a season and get moved down (which isn't very fun for anyone), or appeal somehow.

    It's a little frustrating for us "true" 4.5s, to be playing against 5.0s, but not that big of a deal. It's good for us, I guess.
     
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  8. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    If you are just looking at wins and loses, that's not really any sort of basis for getting moved up or down.

    It's a skill level, not a ranking. You can be within a certain group of people's skill level and lose everytime (but close), that's why it's based on games, not matches won or lost....

    That's why it seems that the levels are really huge. (because they are...)

    If you want to blame someone, you should blame the people who constantly work the system because they care more about winning matches then playing competitive tennis, and blame the people in the league who water down the rules to cater to them (which is what causes the inconsistancys).

    If the league cant get past that, they arent going to do it your way either. (because people will never want to "quickly" move from one level to another, and certain people in the league will always cater to that and call it being "player friendly")
     
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  9. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    Depends on what you think is better.

    Im in the camp where I think that there are a lot of under-rated players out there (in the Men's League) and now some of them are getting rated up. In the past, nobody rarely got rated up.

    (worse yet was the team that usually moved onto the next level never lost any players, and your 2nd or 3rd place team that happened to beat a few of their players usually would lose a player or two)

    It's definately not perfect, but you can tell they are slowly (SLOOOOWLLLY) trying to tweak the rules to make it better.

    The self rating system changes every year. It's nowhere near fool proof but it's definately better than 2 years ago. And they have been making slight adjustments in the rating formula every year that either moves certain people up faster, or moves certain other people down.

    The worst aspect of the system in my opinion is the joke of an appeal process, but I heard a rumor that they are at least going to stop people who make it to their District Championships from appealing next year.
     
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  10. duffman

    duffman Rookie

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    The USTA computer system is a joke. The system is even more exaggerated in mixed where the computer has an even harder time crunching the different ratings between men and women.

    There also seems to be a log jam in the 4.0 rating. Our 4.0 team had 5 players with a combined 1 loss. 3 of these got bumped up at the ESR to 4.5. But one player who got bumped last year at the ESR only to get moved back down at the YER went 11-1 with only one three set match and stayed a 4.0. I was 9-0 with a couple three setters, but the rest were straight set blowouts of good to decent 4.0 opponants and I didn't get bumped at the ESR. At the same time there was a huge influx of 4.0 ESR's from the 3.5 local league. Including one guy that was a self rated 3.5 who went 1-2 and got bumped to 4.0 . So basically we have way more people getting bumped to 4.0 than are getting bumped to 4.5, its like a giant 4.0 vacuum.

    We still have districts, so this could very well change at the year end rating with a good showing there but I could not imagine playing 4.0 again next year. There are enough sandbagging/ringer comments this year and honestly this 4.0 season was a bit boring and each win became more of a relief than excitement because you know you shouldn't lose.

    Oh well, enough with my almost daily rant of how bad the rating system is...
     
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  11. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    If you truely feel that you are not a 4.0, you are certainly able to just play 4.5 regardless of what your rating is. (unless your district has some sort of silly rule on that)
     
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  12. AP328

    AP328 Rookie

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    which is worse

    Ok, so which is worse...the NTRP or the BCS?
     
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  13. ohplease

    ohplease Professional

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    There are plenty of problems with USTA play, but not the least of which is the fact that despite the number of levels (1.0-7.0 in 0.5 increments - about 14), only 5 are really used (2.5-4.5).

    What that means is that you've got a huge disparity in playing level at each of those 5 levels. Even worse, there's a structural flaw in that only a few teams even have a chance of getting to districts, then secitional, regional, etc.

    The end result being you often see hard fought, competitive matches in the first few rounds of local playoffs, between teams that are pretty much at the right level - where all they're really playing for is the right to get stomped by the one or two teams loading up for nonlocal competition in the local semis or finals.

    In fact, this is what happened to my team, this year. I had the privilege of practicing with a different team not one, but TWO levels higher, and I'm not sure they could have beaten the team that killed us in the local playoffs. And I'm pretty sure the team going to districts at the level below us would have made the playoffs at our level, too.

    I think the big issue here is the ratings aren't fluid enough. Have a bad season (below .300)? Either as a team or as a player? You get moved down. Have a good one (above .700)? You get bumped up. You see it in soccer and Davis Cup, why not amateur tennis, too?

    As it is right now, you've got people managing scores and competing against some mystery number, instead of the guy across the net. That's just not right.

    Also, benchmark players should be at the LOCAL level, not playoff. For any given level, the players that make it to regional competitions are by definition the cream of the crop. Skim them off.
     
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  14. sliceworks76

    sliceworks76 New User

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    It's tough because the computer ratings system is seriously flawed, but our previous system (where pros visually rated new players) was really flawed too. Under that system, I was rated 3.0 when I should have played 3.5. I had requested 3.5, but the pro there said I was wrong and judged me purely on 10 minutes of play. It was pretty sad. So I proceeded to win most maches easily and waste a year before moving up a level. It was silly.

    The problem with any computer rating system is that smart captains can easily manipulate the system. Players have strange early losses or hide in doubles with weak players, then crank it up for the big matches. It's obvious to anyone who studies the scores, but our district is so locked into the computer DQ system that nothing can be done. If a player doesn't win big early and get strikes, they're pretty much safe all season.

    I'm not sure what system would be fullproof against captains tampering with it. Most of the guys in our league are fair, good captains, but a few really awful ones make it difficult. But those teams win every year, so the top players don't mind playing there, even if they have to throw a match or slum at #3 doubles.
     
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  15. Ace

    Ace Semi-Pro

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    Look, for all you people complaining about playing matches that are too tough..... I have the exact opposite complaint.

    Self rated people who rated too high, or people deciding they need to "play up" when they can barely win matches in their own rating!
    I have had a ton of crappy boring matches this year, and its sucks having to pay for it!

    Look, everyone.....If you are not DOMINATING your own level....PLEASE....Stop pulling down the level above....you don't belong!!!!

    Its one thing if you are doing extremely well at your own level and need more competition, but really....to play "up" just for the sake of getting more matches in? Come ON!!!

    I can't attribute this to the USTA rating system....but to people with no common sense. I WISH I played a few sandbaggers once in a while.....

    By the way...I am playing up as well, because I am winning all the matches at my own level....and for the most part, have been winning easily there too, except for two "at level" rated players, one killed me, one was a close match. No, I am not playing below my level, these people are losing all their matches and still think they need to play up.

    PLEASE send me a sandbagger!

    (I would propose that the USTA give a + rating to someone who's rating is high enough that they should be allowed to play up, and not let anyone else play up)
     
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  16. duffman

    duffman Rookie

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    That is true and fortunately for me I've been able to play with a lot of 4.5's which is actually much more fun and have been asked to play on these teams.

    But if that wasn't the case and I didn't know that many 4.5's it would be difficult to find a 4.5 team to play for with a 4.0 rating as the teams around here are very competitive and would probably look at a 4.0 as a liablilty to their team rather than an asset unless they had open tryouts which isn't likely.
     
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  17. ferocious4hand

    ferocious4hand Semi-Pro

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    how is it the computer's fault if they don't play up? You're the one that played 4.5 and won, they didn't. I don't see how they should be 4.5s simply b/c you can't beat them
     
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  18. johnny ballgame

    johnny ballgame Professional

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    Everything in this post (including the last paragraph) leads me to believe that you're guilty of Sandbagging. MOVE UP ALREADY!
     
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  19. Ace

    Ace Semi-Pro

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    hahaha.....funny.
    but not true at all.

    It is just true that some people shouldn't be playing up, especially if they are getting killed at their own level.

    Haven't you ever seen someone who is losing all their matches 6-1, 6-1......well now picture that person deciding to play up....its just wrong!
     
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  20. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    I dont agree with the part about ratings being like in other sports. They are "skill" ratings, not rankings. So you cant go by wins and loses.

    But I do agree with you that the benchmark players should be at the Local Level. If you read the NTRP chart and the description of the various levels, the people that move on to the advanced levels are way off of that.
     
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  21. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    Sorry but this doesnt make a whole lot of sense. Are you claiming that every player you played at your own level was rated too high since you won all of your matches?
     
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  22. Ace

    Ace Semi-Pro

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    I am claiming that I am a 3.5 player.
    I just got bumped up from 3.0 at the end of last year, so believe me, I am no sandbagger. I started from scratch, as a 2.5, and stayed there for a year because I sucked so bad.
    Because I did well playing up at 3.5 last year, I am playing 3.5 and 4.0 this year.
    When I play a "rated" 4.0, I lose.
    I've only played two 4.0s. One killed me, one was at least competitive.
    The 3.5's I have played in this 4.0 league are losing their 3.5 matches pretty badly. I don't think they should be playing up.
    I feel, that since I am doing well at 3.5, it is ok for me to play up.
    But the 3.5's that are getting killed by other 3.5's do not belong playing 4.0. I'm talking about people that lose most of their 3.5 matches 6-1, 6-2....WHY would they need to play 4.0?

    I'm not complaining about people playing "at level", I am complaining about people playing "up" that aren't doing well against ANYBODY at their level (not just against me). Those people should not be playing up.
    I actually have had a little more competition against the 3.5's playing 3.5 than against the 3.5's playing 4.0.
     
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  23. ohplease

    ohplease Professional

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    I agree that they're skill ratings. Unfortunately, there's no way to measure that, so all we're left with is wins and losses.

    Which is, I think how it should be. We all WANT to play pretty, power tennis. But the fact of the matter is there's more than one way to win, and you need to learn how to adapt your preferred style to counter all of them.
     
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  24. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    I see. I guess I'll believe that you are not one of the sandbaggers then. (you know the ones who are rated too low, clobber everyone and THEN complain that everyone else is rated too high)

    When I first created my 3.5 team, we had 8 3.0 rated players (7 C's and 1 S), and only 4 3.5 players (2 C's and 2 S's), and we managed to take 3rd place in our division, and by the end of the year, the 3.5 / 3.0 ratio on our team basically flip flopped. So Im kind of defensive about silly rules that keep people from moving up.

    But I agree with a lot of the 3.0 teams / players that move up to 3.5 dont have the same experience.

    Although I dont mind yet since there are not a lot of them in our league yet. It is possible to have a 3.5 player skillwise who is losing matches in league play just because of lack of experience and these matches give them a good shot at getting that experience. (the sudden confidence boost)

    What I hate about our league is that it seems that most of our teams are either of one type (the super sandbagger teams), or the other (super wimpy 3.0 teams) and there gets to be fewer and fewer average teams.
     
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  25. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    Actually there is a more finite way of measuring skill then wins and loses. You go by games. And that's what they are doing....

    You cant necessarily do that in other sports but it works in tennis because it takes something to win a game. It takes some thing more to win a match but just because you cant win a match doesnt mean that you are at a whole diffrent skill level.
     
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  26. duffman

    duffman Rookie

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    Excellent post. In our local league there is 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5, & 5.0. The majority of the players are in the 3.0-4.0 range and this is where the widest range of ability is as well. There were only three 4.5 teams and two 5.0 teams locally and these were very close in skill level. In fact, the top two singles players in the 5.0 both had 4.5 ratings. The USTA should look into getting rid of anything below 3.0 and making everything above 5.0 into "open" and then adding in .25 increments.

    Its also funny that you mentioned that winning over 70% of your matches should get you bumped. Last year, as a computer rated 3.0 from my first season of tennis and USTA in 2005 I went 6-2 (75%) at 4.0 and 4-2 (67 %)at 4.5 and got moved to 4.0. This year I went 9-0 at 4.0 and won over 70% of my games at 4.0 and didn't get moved to 4.5 at the ESR.

    You also mentioned competing against some mystery number instead of the guy across the net. I am in total agreement with this. Instead of just worrying about beating the other guy and competing the best I can, I have this number in the back of my head on what the score should be based on his record and his past performance if I want to become a 4.5. When something happens and this number is exceeded in the match its like the panic button is pressed and all of a sudden a 3 set win feels like a loss which is just wrong. I know your rating in the end is just a number and doesn't equate to your actual ability but it is still a measuring stick to base your improvement on and the way the system is now just doesn't make much sense.
     
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  27. ohplease

    ohplease Professional

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    Textbook example of why games aren't a good metric. There are LOTS of guys out there who've mastered tennis at their particular level, with no real interest in improving their games. And why should they? They get to pull a Shaquille O'neal and play possum during the regular season, taking a close loss here, scraping out a close win there, all in an effort to protect their *adj ratings.

    Why *adj? Most likely because they won a lot at that same level last year, both locally and in the playoffs. Now they get to do it all over again this year. Same faces, over and over and over. Which is what you see in USTA play. You can practically see the thought bubbles over their heads: "please, please take this game. I'm trying to avoid strikes. Yeah, I know I hit a ridiculous diving backhand winner 10 minutes ago, but that frame shot into the next court? Nevermind that."

    Now, by going to winning percentage, that all changes. Sure, people can manage percentages during the regular season, but if they want to make the playoffs, they need to bring it for real. And - if you make the playoffs - you're bumped.

    This scenario would of course feature teams trying to out-tank each other to avoid the playoffs this year in the hopes of a favorable draw at their level next year, but there's only so much they can do, as there's going to be an influx of players from the next higher level being bumped down because they can't win there, but probably can here.

    If you're a diehard 4.5 style player, but you can't win at 3.5, then you're demoted all the way down to 2.5 if need be, until you figure out how to win. If you're the unbeatable amateur grinder at 3.0/3.5, you get promoted to 4.0/4.5 and forced to learn some new tricks.

    In my own experience, I'm seeing guys with winning percentages above 80%, on teams that finished in the top 4 of around 20, who aren't getting ESR bumps. Why? Probably because they get killed by teams built for sectional/districts/etc., who are beating guys otherwise dominating their level 6-1, 6-2.
     
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  28. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    This is all well and good if you believe that someone cant possibly win 80% or more of their matches and still be within the correct rating.

    I think changing the system just because some people happen to be sandbaggers doesnt make a lot of sense. Sandbaggers aside the system works fine for most people in the league.

    If the league wants to do something about these people who are only there to cheat the system, they should send some people to the matches or do something specifically to target them, rather than ruin it for everyone else in the league.

    A good majority of players dont even play enough matches every year (here the average is like 5-6) to even be considered under any sort of 80% win rule, so you have to go by games to get more granular.

    And besides the games factor your precious 80% rule doesnt factor in where people are within their own rating. If they just happen to play weaker 3.5's should they be punished for that? It doesnt make any sense to me.

    I think this is just a simplistic approach that doesnt consider what the skill ratings really mean or what winning a tennis match is all about for that matter. (for most people, not counting the sandbaggers)

    Im sure this isnt perfect either, but I think a better sceniro would be to "reward" the teams that move on to districts by using some form of the "move up / split up" rule on them like if you finish in the top four in nationals. Because think about it, why do players want to sandbag?

    Some of them are sick and twisted and only want to win matches no matter who they play, but others simply want to win the league which is fair (it is a league after all and your goal is to win it.....). So maybe if your team moves on, more people should get rated up than if not (versus how it seems to work now where you are less likely to get rated up because you got spanked by the bigger sandbaggers from some other district/section).

    Then maybe some win percentage rule is in order, or some variation of it. But to just institute a win percentage for everyone is not a good idea in my opinion.

    If you think people should be zipping up and down from 4.5 to 2.5 from year to year, you really dont have a realistic idea of what skill ratings really mean.
     
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  29. ohplease

    ohplease Professional

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    Skill ratings mean just that - a complete separation from results, including games. Even allowing the input of games, score differentials, or my precious winning percentage - ALL are results based metrics.

    Skill rating would be everybody against a ball machine, radar gun, and targets. Crunch some numbers - hey look - you're a 4.0. Now let's see how people with similar "skills" do against one another.

    In fact, the USTA has already abandoned the traditional skills test (in the form of visual verification) for a results based metric - only the results based metric they chose are wrong. Roll the consequence into the incentive, and you'll force the people who want to win to take the part they don't want (being bumped up), too.
     
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  30. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

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    The problem with going strict win-loss is that not all opponents are equal. If I as a 3.5 player happen to play most of my matches against 3.0s playing up, then I would be expected to have a very good win-loss record. This wouldn't mean that I should be bumped to 4.0. Using both players' dynamic rating and the actual match scores creates some opportunity to differentiate a "strong" win from a "weak" win. I think that the concept is sound even if the actual application is imperfect.

    Your point that people who win all the time should be moved up is valid as well. I think that the step to prohibit ratings appeals for people playing at championship (district and higher) levels is a good start. Assigning a higher "weight" to championship matches such that participants generate larger dynamics wouldn't bother me either.

    No matter what you do, though, there will be people that game the system. I think Javier is right - most of the time things work pretty well. Sandbaggers eventually get moved up and life goes on.
     
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  31. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    The visual verification was really only done for self rating and for play in the playoffs. Unless you are talking about how it may of been before the 90's (I didnt play back then).

    Of course you cant go purely by skill ratings, that is impossible, but you would have to admit that games are better than whole matches, wouldnt you???

    It's generally accepted that if you lose to someone 6-0, 6-0 that means you are a lot worse than if you are losing 7-6, 7-6 to them.

    I have a friend that Ive probally lost 70 match to but the far majority of them are very very close, it certainly doesnt mean he's a whole diffrent level then I am. (we both do about the same in League play and I do better against certain types of opponents)

    So it sounds like you agree with me. If you are going to claim that going by games (which is really how it was ALWAYS done in the core rating scheme anyway) is somehow wrong, then you cant somehow claim that whole matches is somehow better.
     
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  32. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    A few quick words in defense of those of us who play up . . .

    I can't get behind the idea of restricting who can play up. There is already a natural barrier to having Truly Horrible Players playing up: captains. If you really stink, a captain won't take you or won't play you unless to avoid a default. (I am guessing, Ace, that you'd prefer to beat up on a weaker player than show up to find out the other team is defaulting your court).

    And what would you do with players like me, who Stank The Place Up in 2006, got some lessons, and play much better in 2007? Should I be prevented from playing a level up (as I did) because I didn't earn a "+" based on my abysmal 2006 results?

    Lastly, in our area a significant reason people play up is lack of matches at their rating level. For spring 2007 3.0 season, my team got 5 matches per player with 17 women on the team. That's not much. Since you aren't allowed to join a second team at the same level to get more matches, your only option is to play up. (Or join a team in a far-flung locale).

    Maybe they should let players compete on more than one team at their level, with the stipulation that they cannot play for either team against the other?

    Cindy -- who doesn't mind beating up on 2.5 players at all :)
     
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  33. Ace

    Ace Semi-Pro

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    1. I might prefer getting a default rather than paying to play a crappy match, when I have friends I could be playing/practicing with for free.
    2. Nobody should be defaulting at the last minute anyway.
    3. Lack of matches isn't a good excuse. You can always find people to play with, it doesn't have to be "USTA".
    4. Captains aren't keeping people from playing up. What we see is a crappy player decides to captain a team, because a good captain won't let them play, they create an entire team of crappy players. AND we see a lot of 3.0's that are too "proud" to play their own level, they would rather tell everyone they play "3.5", even if they are getting their butts kicked every match.
    5. Thats ok, when I was a 2.5 and my first year of 3.0, I thought I should be playing up too....I shouldn't have, I sucked. I realize that now. If I got bumped up to 4.0 this year, I would definately NOT "play up" at 4.5. That would just be silly.

    Also, I agree with Javier that some people SHOULD play up. But you should have some sort of idea if you are that person or not. I knew because I played a winter club league against some of our better 3.5's and started winning most of my matches. Eventually I will become a 4.0, and when I am doing very well at 4.0, then I will know it is time to play 4.5....but not "just because I can".
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2007
    #33
  34. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    While I agree with some of your points, I would say that this is still far less of a problem then people playing below where they should be.

    Reason being is people get better, and everyone gets better from playing better opponents eventually. Nobody gets worse from playing worse opponents (they just get bored except for the people who only play because they want the "thrill" of winning every single time).

    You are right about whole teams usually moving up. I happen to be a 3.5 captain myself though and I dont mind playing these teams as long as there is only 1 or 2. In our league individual matches count so it's still a challenge as a team because you have to beat them 5-0 to keep up with the other teams.

    It's also hard to complain about this at 3.5. At least not here, 3.0 is the lowest men's division there is, so 3.5 is the 2nd worst division. If you are compaining, just think about all those poor "real" 3.0 players who have to deal with the rest of the players who will never win a match ever.
     
    #34
  35. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    I don't mind a little sandbagging because I would rather play good players than bad players, even if it hurts my win-loss record. But I'm also all about an accurate rating system so that I can get a better measure of my own progress. What boggles my mind is the fact that a self-rated player can easily get disqualified but a computer-rated player is unlikely to get disqualified. If two people have the exact same results against a set of opponents (theoretically), why should one get disqualified but not the other? Both players regardless of being self or computer rated are both two strong to play at that level. Is the logic behind this that its impossible to go from say a computer-determined 3.0 to a solid 3.5 within less than a year? I would guess alot of lessons, drills, and determination could easily cause that much improvement.
     
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  36. volleyman

    volleyman Semi-Pro

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    If you are winning 80% or more of your matches, especially singles matches, against at level opponents (e.g., a 4.0 playing other 4.0 rated players) year after year, assuming you play a reasonable number of matches a year, then you should get bumped up. That will catch a good number of sandbaggers without adversely impacting the average player.

    Yes, those are tough numbers to crunch.But all the data is already in the computer, so doing the calculations shouldn't be that difficult, right? :)

    Actually, I'd be happy if they just added a human review to the computer-process. Have the computer identify people for review, based on winning percentages, for example, and then have a committee review the player's history. That would catch, for example, guys who manage to get bumped down on medical appeal, who then, after their injury heals, spend the next several years dominating at the lower level and managing their game scores to avoid being returned to where they belong.

    There also seems to be an inclination in favor of keeping people at too high a level, instead of bumping them down to a level where they'd be competitive.

    For example, there's a guy who plays in NC who has lost every contested match he's played, and he plays a lot, in the last 4 seasons, save for a lone 7.5 combo match back in 2004. He's taken some real beatings over the years. Yet, the computer still insists he's 4.0.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2007
    #36
  37. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    He probally is a 4.0. Unless we could look the person up, Im going to have to assume that.

    You can lose every match in a level and still belong to that level, it happens. Talk to any decent tennis teaching pro out there.

    You could be playing a position that you dont belong in (like playing #1 singles, which means playing the best players on most of the teams).

    Or even more likely is the doubles phenemenon. There are all sorts of factors that can go wrong in doubles which will cause you to lose matches in your own rating. (bad partner, getting stuck at #1 doubles against the sandbaggers on the other team, etc....)

    I find it interesting that most of the people who hold this view only look at singles as if somehow League Tennis is just some sort of singles challenge latter or something. The majority of players end up playing doubles which is a whole other ballgame.

    I proved it on my team, out of my 8 3.0 players, a few of them used to have 3.5 ratings, and just were not in the right situation on their current teams and had a few horrible seasons and were rated down to 3.0. With the right partner and put in the right position, they won most of their matches on my team and were rated back up to 3.5.
     
    #37
  38. jchamilt

    jchamilt Rookie

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    Computer rating system?

    Does anyone know how the computer rating system works? Does it only go on wins and losses or does it look at the closeness of the score? People are gaming the system. If some could win 6-0,6-0 but wins 7-5,7-5 it may look a lot different to a computer that looks at closeness of the score. Also if a team is way ahead in points it can afford to have someone lose to keep them qualified. Another way to keep players qualified at a lower level is having them lose at doubles even though they are good at singles if they are much better at singles than doubles. Some one is correct that this computer rating system is not perfect, but it is easier for the USTA then having people rate players. I would like to know what the computer rating system looks at.
     
    #38
  39. Matt21

    Matt21 Semi-Pro

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    The USTA should just scrap the numeric rating system and go with a more simple, 4-tiered system: Beginner, Novice, Intermediate, Advanced. The larger percentage of players would rest in the 2nd and 3rd tiers and you'd no longer (ever) be eligible for "beginner" after having played 2 years of league tennis. Novice level would be where your traditional 2.5/3.0 players would play; intermediate would be where your 3.5/4.0 players would play and advanced would be 4.5 and up.

    I understand why the USTA adopted the NTRP program and I'm not saying scrap it; just condense it. As I understood it, the whole idea behind NTRP was to make tennis competitive and fun for more people. The problem is that a half-point graduated system that (competitively) begins @ 2.5 and ends @ 5.5 has far too many levels. IMO, condensing the ratings into 4 groups total this would better control the blatant sandbagging and self-ego stroking that occurs while at the same time, increasing the potential for creating better tennis players.

    Let's face it, if you're a "traditional" 4.5 playing "advanced" under the new system, you're in there with 5.0 and 5.5 players in which case, if you want to be competitive, you'll have to practice and "bring it" each time you play a league or tourney match. If you're serious about your game, you'll take your beatings early on but you'll get better (just like guys playing ATP who start out ranked in the 500s after leaving juniors, but over the course of 4+ years, get good enough to crack the top 100, 50, 25 or even 10).

    Final thought: Can you imagine how convoluted and confused the juniors program would be if they used this same NTRP rating system?
     
    #39
  40. volleyman

    volleyman Semi-Pro

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    Over the course of a season, sure. Over two seasons? I can buy that. Across 4 seasons? That's pushing it, even with the doubles phenomenon.

    For the record, I didn't say this in my post, nor do I subscribe to that view.

    I said "especially singles", because in singles there's no partner problem to deal with.
     
    #40
  41. ohplease

    ohplease Professional

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    I agree that score differentials and whole matches are both the same thing - result metrics, and not somehow in any way indicative of "skill levels," as you originally claimed.

    That neither of those things cares about skill or style is exactly my point. Make the results matter. Not just for who gets the trophy at the end. If you make the playoffs, even locally, you get bumped. Fail to compete well, you get dropped.

    Right now, the USTA errs on the side of not bumping up/down enough. Err on the side of bumping up/down too much and it becomes MUCH harder for teams to work the system.

    Heck, there's even an easy way to fix the sandbaggers who go from champs to goats every other year, working that border. First, you bump everyone who makes the playoffs. Then, for every progressive level of competition, you add a year's duration to that bump. Districts? 1 year at the next higher level. Sectional? 2 years. Regional? 3 years. Nationals? 4 years. Champs? 5 years.

    There's even a way to fix the dudes who hide out during the regular season, only to come out during the playoffs (a direct result, I might add, of the blatantly wrong headed score differential metric) - you're only allowed to play in the playoffs as often as you played during the regular season. No more hiding, no more score or match management, no more playing to some mystery algorithm.

    The point is that there's tons of things the USTA could be doing to fix this, but they're not. Heck, even changing the rules every year would help shake things up. Eventually, they'll stumble on something that works well. As it is right now, it's just a broken system that does actual harm in terms of growing the sport.
     
    #41
  42. Ace

    Ace Semi-Pro

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    I actually have to caveat everything I've said by adding that I think the USTA rating system is actually pretty good.

    Its just people with no common sense that are abusing the system.

    Also, I think a lot of people call people "sandbaggers" just because they lost a match pretty bad, but that can also happen when someones bad day meets someones good day. Some people don't bother to check someones record or take into consideration that maybe they are in an easy flight (compared nationally) before they start throwing "sandbagger" around.

    Sometimes the top team in a flight goes to districts every year, and gets their butts kicked. Well, in their little area, they are good, in a bigger area, they aren't....its a NATIONAL rating system.

    Occassionally there is the all out "sandbagger" playing two levels down...but we don't see that too much, every now and then maybe.
     
    #42
  43. lostinamerica

    lostinamerica Semi-Pro

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    At nationals, that is about all you see. Everyone is at least one level down and about half of the players are two levels down.
     
    #43
  44. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Ace,

    In our league, there used to be a rule to discourage teams from playing up. You couldn't have more than some percentage of your team playing up. Maybe it was 40%, I can't remember.

    They changed it for the 2006 season. So now you will see teams where over half the team is playing up. They get totally killed, of course. I mean, it's horrible. One such team had nine 2.5s out of 14 players. They lost all twelves of their matches, winning just 4 individual matches (one by default).

    Still, it's OK. I imagine the weaker teams are relieved they have someone they can beat. And the stronger teams focus on destroying these teams to maximize their number of sets and games won for the playoff race. Or the captain can give her weaker players a chance without a real risk of taking a team loss.

    On balance, I think the rule change was a good thing. So, uh, unless you're whipping these folks at love, there is a challenge there for you. :) If I were to encounter a weak player playing up, I would most definitely try to win the first set at love and then work on hitting slice or serve and volley, telling myself that if I actually dropped a game then I would resume playing the regular way.

    Oh, one more thing. It is not easy to find players a level up who are willing to play you to give you experience in "playing up," so that's not much of an option for people like me. Besides, even if I lose when I play up, this might help my rating if I don't lose too badly. In my two singles losses at 3.5, I won a total of 10 games. That probably did my rating some good.
     
    #44
  45. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Ditto!!

    I consider myself at the high end of 3.0. I took two doubles losses this season. One was to the computer-rated No. 1 doubles team that is going to sectionals, and we lost 4-6, 5-5 (timed). The other loss was to a different self-rated No. 1 doubles team that is 12-0 and just won a tournament.

    I think it speaks well of the rating system that these ladies didn't get DQ'd, despite beating everyone in sight.
     
    #45
  46. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    Here's the thing. 95% of us dont really care what happens in Nationals.

    The teams that happen to win every single year to go there care more which is why they may sandbag in their own local league.

    Although I still believe that sandbagging at the local level is not happening as much as ohplease wants to believe (even though he's basing his whole therory on potential sandbagging).

    You have to be a good deal better than someone (probally more than one level in a lot of cases) to get away with sandbagging without risking losing, especially at 3.0 / 3.5. Sandbagging means you are switching the momentum to your opponent, and you are making yourself extra tired. Even a 3.0 player can look fantastic on any given day if you give him enough confidence, and 3.5 players cant necessarily just "turn it on" when they need to.

    So to base a whole system of believe on potential sandbagging in my mind is silly, unless you are only focused on what happens in the playoffs and not the local leagues. (which is the whole mistake in my mind, teams only care about what happens in a few weekends a year rather than most of us who are signing up for the whole season)
     
    #46
  47. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    Hey, I know who's team that is! ;) She was my roomie at districts!

    And yes, Cindy, it used to be a percentage rule, but it was done away with two years ago. My NOVA 3.5 team had quite a bit of 3.0s on it, and we actually played pretty well, sometimes getting wins when the 3.5s didn't. We were all strong 3.0s (well, most of us). My 3.5 team had a bigger problem of not getting enough people to show for all the matches, thus lots of defaults. But for me, at least I got lots of playing time.

    And, even though I was a 3.0 playing up, there was only ONE match that I would say was not competitive, and as Javier (I think it was him) said, it was more a matter of our opponents having a great day, and me and my partner having a horrible day. It was one of those matches where afterward, you just shake it off and keep on going.
     
    #47
  48. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    This guy was 4.5 before he asked for medical exemption due to surgery. He is my age in his 30's and is playing like a 4.5 again. My serve is my strength but when the match score gets close, he puts hits his returns right back at my feet. He plays doubles with a weak 4.0 guy and they still win like 90% of their matches. This has gone on for 3 years now and he still hasn't gotten bumped up.
     
    #48
  49. SB

    SB Rookie

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    I think most of the solutions given here to "fix" the NTRP system have far more pitfalls than the NTRP system does itself.

    The only thing I'd like to see is wins taken into account, a little bit. If you win 25 of 28 matches, you should move up, even if they were "close."
     
    #49
  50. Ace

    Ace Semi-Pro

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    If all your matches were "close", you are obviously playing the right level. Why should you move up? Isn't the goal really to have a league full of competitive matches? If you get too good, yeah, you should move up, but "close" matches mean you aren't there yet.
     
    #50

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