Too good for your level?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by anubis, Jul 8, 2013.

  1. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

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    Rhetorical/philosophical question!

    Was playing in a tournament about a month or so ago and encountered another player while playing in the 3.5 round. I'm a 3.0, but I sometimes like to play in 3.5 just for the experience. I never make it far, i usually lose in the round of 16. But it's fun.

    Anyway, I played this guy in the round of 16. I lost -- got demolished, actually. I didn't really stand a chance, I had no weapons against him. At any rate, he's a 3.0 as well.

    After the match, we were talking and he said that he only plays 3.5 tournaments, never 3.0. He didn't say that he was too good for 3.0, but it seemed like that's how he felt, even if he didn't want to come right out and say it. He was a very modest and respectful player, I had a lot of respect for his game.

    Needless to say, he made it to the 3.5 finals. Didn't win, but he often makes it there without too much trouble.

    So, it got me thinking: perhaps he's a rare breed of person who understands that he doesn't belong at 3.0 and chooses not to compete at that level? I'd be willing to bet that he could probably steamroll through every 3.0 tournament for the rest of the calendar year and win them all without much trouble.

    It also got me thinking, from a philosophical point of view: if we as tennis players realize that we are destined to be bumped up and are no longer challenged by the current level that we're at, is it more respectful to our fellow peers to choose to play in only higher level games? Is it disrespectful in any way to completely wipe the floor with our competition for that brief period of time before we're bumped, knowing that we will be bumped?

    Note: I'm not saying I'm at this level, I know I'm not. I'm just curious. It's just a strange concept to me, as I know lots of people at various levels that bagel and breadstick their way through their level only to be bumped up the next calendar year. Would they have perhaps been better off to simply skip their level and play up and save all their opponents' feelings?

    Or is this a no-holds-barred sport and we should "take all the wins we can, while we still can"?

    Discuss!
     
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  2. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

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    I think a common mentality is to try to sandbag in team situations (i.e. leagues) and play up in individual situations (i.e. tournaments and flex leagues). People want to lead their team to the promised land (and captains want to recruit anyone who can fit into the guidelines), but given a chance to just play for themselves, they seek the best competition and winning a skill level tournament that wasn't a challenge seems hollow. Just my experience.
     
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  3. goober

    goober Legend

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    General observation

    Tournaments- people play up much more than people play beneath their level.

    Team leagues- people play down mostly because of pressures from the team and captain to win and go to playoffs.

    Obviously what a person does individually will vary. Right now I am kind of the middle of my level so I really don't have to decide. Personally I don't think taking easy wins really increases my enjoyment of tennis in the least. It gets boring pretty quick. I have a bunch of dinky trophies sitting in the closet. Getting more is just going to take up more space.
     
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  4. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Agree - that is my experience also.

    Maybe part of it is that in individual events, there is no perceived ultimate goal beyond the event in question (i.e., no elaborate post-season / nationals, the way there is in league tennis). Whereas people seem to think that league nationals are a 'big thing'.

    Obviously a lot of it is peer / captain pressure. And maybe ego as well - winning/losing in individual events does not come under as much scrutiny as in league.
     
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  5. roman40

    roman40 Rookie

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    He'll be bumped either way, whether he steamrolls through 3.0 or get's to final in 3.5, so in a sense, it doesn't matter from a long term perspective. In general, I agree with above comment about leagues and tournaments, sandbagging is common in leagues, because that's how you get to play more, and be a hero. If you're average 3.5 (self rated as 3.0), you probably won't get to play singles much on a strong 3.5 team, but you'll be pampered on a 3.0 team.

    However, some people actually rate themselves correctly and improve quickly, but they wait for the rating system to catch up, instead of appealing to bump their rating. Technically, I think that the right approach. Rating system is relative, rather than absolute, so rather than guessing that your rating has changed, play your best at your level and earn the bump.
     
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  6. tennixpl

    tennixpl Rookie

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    After getting thrashed at 3.0 league some days i had to come to the conclusion that while i may "look" good i don't play good day in day out. i get beat by 3.0s who i have no business losing to, and while i fancied myself a 3.5 reality dictates i am a 3.0.

    with that in mind i played a 3.0 tournament.......um or so i thought. I was playing decent, really just in pusher mode and won handily. one match my serve was just on and opponent didn't stand a chance, in final i got sloppy for a few games and then went back to consistent mode and won fine.

    All full of myself i went and went to 3.5 tournament, won first match by skin of my teeth versus a legit 3.5, won next match comfortably but he was just back from 9 month layoff and a mediocre 3.5 if he was one (my guess), in SF i got my *** handed to me.

    Lost first match next 3.5 tourny to another 3.0 playing up. another match in my own head i should have won. I'll blame rain delay adn shortened sets.......

    So next tournament i played back down to 3.0 again and again it wasn't any fun really. Even caused a bit of an issue as an opponent felt i was not a true 3.0 and should be DQ'd. won easily and felt bad about it......

    So what I learned is league and tourny are very different beasts, like other Posters said League seem to be a lot of gaming of rating and tourny is about playing your best, for most people.

    Good 3.0s play up bc at 3.0 level you get the true 3.0 players and the guys who are 2.5s but what guy will enter a tournament at 2.5?????

    So from now on I play up to play better people for sure bc i want ot be better not win. Guy i lost to the first time 6-1, 6-0....well this last weekend i got beat 6-4, 6-1 by him, so I am getting better but still just a 3.0 playing up to play better.........
     
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  7. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    I will also add this:

    Players that have been grinding it out for a while will stay on level a little longer ... suppose he had been a 3.0 for 5 years and having reached the top of the level will often enjoy a season of easy wins.

    However I find someone new to tennis, and not corrupted by league captains, is likely to be more interested in moving themselves up the ladder rather than waiting for the computer.
     
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  8. bethany2

    bethany2 New User

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    I think another part of why people (myself included) may "play up" in tournaments but at their rated level in leagues is the difficulty in finding a league at the higher level. Being new to USTA in my region, I had a hard enough time finding a 3.5 team to play on and knew there was no chance of finding a 4.0 captain who'd want a 3.5 singles player they don't know on their team.
    I'm sure most of you all are well-connected and wouldn't have this problem, but for new players this is definitely a possible reason for the unintentional sandbagging.
     
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  9. Doubles

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    While it's nice that the player you mentioned clearly wants to play at the level they believe they truly are, I've run into a few players in my league (4.0) who are clearly sandbagging.

    I typically get placed at 1 singles where half of the guys I play are at my level, and the other half win matches 0 and 1, or 1 and 1 until the end of the year where they'll throw enough to stay at the 4.0 level.
     
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  10. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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    Could it also be that you are just a middle of the road 4.0 player and these guys are strong 4.0 players?
     
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  11. goober

    goober Legend

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    a strong 4.0 should not be able to beat a mid level 4.0 0 and 1.
     
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  12. Doubles

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    I'm not saying I'm more than a middle of the road 4.0, but the players I mentioned are beating everyone else in the 4.0 league with bagels and bread sticks, and even have some comfortable wins at the 4.5 level.
     
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  13. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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    I guess I have seen similar things in my area although the victories are not quite that lopsided. I'm not arguing that there isn't a big differences in ability inside a division but instead that the guys at the top are throwing matches. In NorCal where I play there actually are currently quite a few semi-undefeated (1 loss max) 4.0 singles players. I know quite a few of them well and have played a couple of others. All of these guys expect and want to get bumped up this year.

    The sandbaggers do exist but I don't believe they are the norm.
     
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  14. JoelDali

    JoelDali G.O.A.T.

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    Most of my 4.5 opponents told me I should be playing at the 5.5 - 6.5 level. Then they snickered and laughed behind my back.
     
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  15. Gut4Tennis

    Gut4Tennis Hall of Fame

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    imagine if you spent just 1/2 the time with your family that you spend posting dribble troll posts that have no meaning to any post you reply

    what a waste of time
     
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  16. JoelDali

    JoelDali G.O.A.T.

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    Says the guy that creates awesome oops "delete me" threads.

    You are an illiterate dipstick.

    I wonder what banned member you are?
     
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  17. Doubles

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    So much hostility. Let's get back to the topic at hand, sand baggers.
     
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  18. struggle

    struggle Hall of Fame

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    i'm not so sure about that, but i do try and see your point.

    often it's only the important points that make the difference
    and if you can only scrape a couple of them you end up with a score
    as advertised, even amongst seemingly closely rated opponents.
     
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  19. Doubles

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    While I understand this, some matches I've seen, and some that I've played, haven't been like this.

    One match I played, I held at love to start the match. I then didn't get more than 2 points in a game. The man I was playing was clearly toying with me the whole time, I was never really in any of the points. Almost all the points I won were from him missing in the net, or me just hitting an outright winner.
     
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  20. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

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    So how about this scenario: How many NTRP tournaments does it take to win before you really "ought" to stop playing that level and play higher -- regardless if the "computer" hasn't caught up to you yet?

    Say "Ralph" is a 3.5, and has been so for a couple of years. He enters three 3.5 NTRP tournaments in the beginning of the year. He wins two of them, and gets bounced out of the semis in one. Should he stop playing 3.5 tournaments and only play 4.0 from then on?

    I can see it from a few different perspectives:

    A.) Ralph wants to stay #1 in the 3.5 tournament rankings for his region (in Tennislink). If he stops playing 3.5, then other people will catch up and perhaps knock him out of the top seeds.

    B.) Or, perhaps he doesn't care, but hates getting trounced in the Round of 16 every time in the 4.0 tournaments. That's just no fun, he feels like he's wasted the $48 plus gas money to enter the tournament in the first place.

    C.) He may feel guilty that it's becoming very easy for him to defeat other 3.5s, and there's "grumbling" amongst the ranks that they no longer want to play him because it's not competitive for them.

    D.) Or, last but not least, he doesn't play tournaments for "competition", he plays to line his trophy closet. He craves the spotlight, the picture on the tournament page, and any prize money that comes with it.


    Just some food for thought.
     
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  21. dcdoorknob

    dcdoorknob Hall of Fame

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    I personally don't even have a problem with someone who has played at a level for years, taken their lumps and losses, and put in the hard work and gotten better, if they decide to keep playing at the same level until the computer bumps them up. Good for them. They earned those extra wins.

    This is very much different in my mind than those players (or captains) who get a lower (self)rating then what they know they are already at just to try and game the system.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2013
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  22. Coach Chad

    Coach Chad Rookie

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    Interesting topic anubis. I am playing in a flex league this summer at the 3.5 - 4.0 level. I consider myself a "strong" 3.5...but until I win at least 50% of my matches against 4.0 players, I still consider myself a 3.5. There are nights when I defeat 4.0 players; but there are nights when the serve of a 4.0 player gives me that "deer in the headlight" look! Do you think I am rating myself correctly?
     
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  23. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

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    Thanks! Question for you: what % of games do you win at the 3.5 level, and what % do you win at the 4.0 level?

    What % of your 3.5 matches are competitive? What about 4.0 level?
     
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  24. Coach Chad

    Coach Chad Rookie

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    75% of matches at 3.5 are competitive; 25% I win easily....60% of matches against 4.0 are competitive; 40% I know after the first three games or so that I will lose unless the person self-destructs...which has only happened once.
     
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  25. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

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    You may have those numbers backwards. By "competitive", I mean your scores are like 7-6, 7-5 or 6-4. 6-3 and below are considered "non-competitive", meaning you won without much trouble -- you were in control the whole time and your opponent really couldn't tip the scales in his favor.

    If 3/4ths of your 3.5 matches are competitive, then that means you're having trouble winning by a good margin -- which means 3/4ths of your matches at the 3.5 level could have gone either way. That means you're facing good competition, and that means you belong at 3.5.

    To put it another way, a strong 4.0, verging on 4.5 should be able to beat a 3.5 with relative ease, 6-2, 6-1 without too much trouble.

    OTOH, a little over 1/2 of your 4.0 matches are competitive, which means you should have a much higher win/loss ratio. You are in greater command of your 4.0 matches and can more easily dictate points. This shows that you are on the verge of becoming a 4.5 player, as you don't seem to be pushed too hard at that level.
     
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  26. Max G.

    Max G. Hall of Fame

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    I mean, based on the description, you're right in the middle. At 3.5, most matches are tough, but you win a majority of them; at 4.0, most matches are tough, but you lose a majority of them.

    Assuming that "competitive" means you win about half, that means that at 3.5 you're winning about 63% of your matches, and at 4.0 you're winning about 30% of your matches. You could pass for either one I think.
     
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  27. Coach Chad

    Coach Chad Rookie

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    Thanks for the input...gonna stay at 3.5....but will not say no if a 4.0 contacts me to play....it is a flex league.
     
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  28. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

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    Someone who wins 50% of their matches against 4.0s is a mid-level 4.0 by definition - not even close to a 3.5. I disagree with the others... If you win virtually all of your 3.5 matches (even though a lot of them are close) and win against 4.0s even 25% of the time then you are a 4.0.

    It seems like there are an awful lot of people (not saying you) that feel like if they aren't winning most of their matches then they belong at a lower level. In reality, half of the players at any level should have a losing record.
     
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  29. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

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    good point.
     
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  30. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Half of the players at any level have a losing record.
    And then the other half are sandbaggers.

    :)
     
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  31. Gut4Tennis

    Gut4Tennis Hall of Fame

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    said the sites #1 troll lol

    ps: you're the #1 troll dipstick
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2013
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  32. Velvet Ga el

    Velvet Ga el Rookie

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    Not sure if serious with the bolded part. I don't think this is going to work out well for you.
     
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  33. seleswannabe

    seleswannabe Rookie

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    Sorry wrong section
     
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