USTA Players-do your teams play in order of strength?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by SJS, Feb 14, 2007.

  1. SJS

    SJS New User

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    Just curious. I've been reading posts on this board for a while and keep seeing references to playing #1, etc. I'm captain of two USTA teams and have been told by league coordinators the last couple of years that they can no longer even suggest that teams be played by order of strength. Even after repeatedly telling my own players that #3 can be just as tough as #1 it still hasn't sunk in. Does your section still have rules regarding order of strength or has this just not filtered down?
     
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  2. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

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    Some teams play straight up. Some don't. Being able to stack adds a strategy element, but I personally feel it makes more of the matches competitive if there is a no-stacking rule. I really hate it when I'm playing on the #1 team and I end up facing the #3 team, and the match ends up being a mismatch.
     
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  3. Cruzer

    Cruzer Professional

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    I have never heard of a "rule" regarding playing in order of strength. Who is to say what the order of strength is anyway? I have played on teams and against teams that never played in order of strength. This topic has been discussed before and there are some opinions that the "fair" way to play is in order of strength and only unscrupulous captains would not play that way. Personally I disagree. USTA tennis is competitive and the objective is to win the match with the players you have available for that match. If that means putting you strongest singles player in the no. 2 spot and putting your weakest doubles team in the no. 1 spot then that is what you do. Since the vast majority of teams members want to win they will support the idea of inserting a lineup with the best chance to get a win for the team.
     
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  4. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    My team decides who plays which spot at random. Its impossible to determine the best way to lay them out because you have to predict how your opponent will lay them out. Also its not easy to determine strength when USTA doesn't even allow you to know your dynamic ratings.
     
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  5. Netbudda

    Netbudda Rookie

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    We use strategy in deciding who plays which line...simply put the objective is to win the match. We look at their roster and their past selection and then make our picks based on that......it adds a nice spin to things not really knowing who you are going to play. Is such a well known practice that sometimes the best strategy is too play straight up.
     
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  6. JLyon

    JLyon Hall of Fame

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    There is no way to do this as 4.5 is 4.5 to a player. I think it is blatant though when captains throw 2 4.0's playing up at #1 against the opposition, but stacking is about as common as tanking matches in USTA League matches.
     
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  7. Cruzer

    Cruzer Professional

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    Ah, I don't think so. If your team advances to district playoffs and beyond it is almost a given that teams will adjust their lineups to win the match and their is nothing wrong with that. Tanking matches is a whole different matter and applies to those that want to protect their ratings.
     
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  8. Netbudda

    Netbudda Rookie

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    I imagine that according to you the way they keep the lineups secret for Davis Cup is cheating. Same applies for Golf Ryder's Cup.
     
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  9. oldguysrule

    oldguysrule Semi-Pro

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    There is no such thing as "stacking" in a USTA league match. That is because there is no rule, written or unwritten, that mentions setting your lineup according to the strength of the players. The choice of who plays #1 singles or #2 doubles does not involve an evaluation of the strength or talent of the individual players. It is simply a way of designating what court you are assigned to.

    That being said, some teams do follow a pattern when assigning courts and so some strategy comes into play to try to get your team the best matchups. However, who's to say the opposition will cooperate in their court assignments when they play your team.

    Please continue to share this with other league players, because obviously there are players that expect the #1 doubles spot to be the best doubles team, etc. This is an assumption that needs to be "nipped" as Barney would say.
     
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  10. lefty10s

    lefty10s New User

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    Hello. I am Local League Coordinator in Georgia, and we have never suggested that teams should play in order of strength. What we run into here in Atlanta is that ALTA requires that you do that. Called No-sandbagging rule. Which makes sense for ALTA since some teams have varied levels of players. But for USTA, why do it? If you know your opponents have unbeatable #1's, why put your team against them. You are basically forfeiting a point, but the idea is to win majority of matches to take the overall win. But many Atlanta teams still play in order of descending strength. Not doing so brings some strategy into the line-up, but if everyone is doing it, it becomes a roll of the dice.
    As someone said in earlier post, all players within a level are supposed to be equal, but we know that is not true. Especially when you have teams with lower level players playing up to higher level(which is whole other story).
     
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  11. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    Ditto...this is what me and my captains do as well.
     
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  12. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

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    Doesn't the NCAA have a no-stacking rule? I've never seen a college team stack. I know my high school league did, but most coaches disregarded it.
     
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  13. JLyon

    JLyon Hall of Fame

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    Sorta of once established players may play +1 or -1 position in the line-up.
     
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  14. 10sfreak

    10sfreak Semi-Pro

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    As the captain of a team here in Georgia, I decide who to play at what position depending on the opposing team's strength. I have been known to "sacrifice" a player to an opposing #1 singles in order to win the overall match. We won our division last fall, and we're now leading our division this spring season. In fact, most of the guys on my team are going to have to schedule some losses this season, just to keep from getting DQed. That's right, we're planning on losing some lines, each in turn, so as to keep from getting DQed. It seems unsavory and dishonest, but that's what the rules of the USTA force upon us. Who wants to win all season long, then get DQed at the end, and have all your matches thrown out? None of us are "self-rated", but we've known people who've been computer-rated at a certain level, but when they keep winning AT THAT SAME LEVEL ASSIGNED TO THEM BY THE COMPUTER, that same damn computer DQs them!! So, part of our strategy now is to lose some matches, in order to win! Crazy...
     
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  15. CrocodileRock

    CrocodileRock Rookie

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  16. oldguysrule

    oldguysrule Semi-Pro

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    It is unsavory and dishonest and it is NOT forced upon you. At least be man enough to admit that your team intends to cheat in order to continue playing at a level that is below your skill level. You cheat the other players because you are not playing your best in a competitive match. And you screw up the computer because false information is used to come up with ratings. You then have the gall to blame it on the computer. Be a man...do your best, respect your opponents, live with honor. You gain nothing by winning if you cheat to win. You just are a loser playing a game that means nothing.
     
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  17. CrocodileRock

    CrocodileRock Rookie

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    just to clarify

    When I say "sacrifice" I mean using a weak player against an unbeatable opponent, saving our stronger player to use against their weaker player. It's an effort to split singles, rather than lose both, and there's no guarantee it will work. It's kind of like a sacrifice in baseball... one player goes down, but the team improves its chances to score.

    When freak says sacrifice, he means someone intentionally losing a match they could win in order to manipulate the computer ratings.

    There is a huge difference in those two.
     
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  18. oldguysrule

    oldguysrule Semi-Pro

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    Hey Croc,
    No worries...the difference in what ya'll were saying was obvious.

    See you on the court soon.
     
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  19. BigJEFF

    BigJEFF New User

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  20. rasajadad

    rasajadad Hall of Fame

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    The team I play on usually tries to play in order. However, for home matches, we only have three courts. So two matches go off at 2pm and three matches go off at 4pm. In order to accommodate other commitments, we have to see who on the other team can flip schedules. So sometimes no, we don't play straight up. (But we don't do it to "stack".)
     
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  21. JLyon

    JLyon Hall of Fame

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    If they get DQ'ed then that means they are playing at the wrong level. As for my original post on tanking, I stand by it. I do not have a problem shifting line-ups that is part of the game, but during the regular season when a player who has dominated for the past few years gets bumped, appeals and gets back, then goes out first two matches as 4.5 and loses to 2 Average 4.0 2,2 that is a tank job pure and simple. The same player and his team advances to city/sectionals and subsequently wins all matches.

    Another example a 4.5 players plays 4.5 and 5.0 does not lose matches at 4.5, goes .500 at 5.0 then goes out and loses a match to a 4.0 rather easily. Of course again once post-season rolls around that same player does not lose a match. Unfortunately this happens everywhere, Texas, Arkansas, etc..
     
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  22. SJS

    SJS New User

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    Thanks for all your responses. I agree with oldguysrule and field my line-ups accordingly. Last year most of the captains at my level were also fielding teams in random order. But no matter how many times I tell my players that the computer makes no distinction in what line you play and that the strongest team may not be at #1 some are still intimidated at playing #1 or feel slighted at playing #3. That's why I was interested in what other sections do.
     
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  23. oldguysrule

    oldguysrule Semi-Pro

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    We need to stop referring to "straight up" and "stacking". I know it is ingrained in us to expect the #1 singles spot to be your best singles player, but that is not the way it is done in USTA league tennis. Your players can play any line at anytime and the determination of who plays #1 is not based on skill or ability. It simply is a way of determing what court you play on.

    I am sorry if it appears that I am beating a dead horse.
     
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  24. jimmycoop

    jimmycoop New User

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    Once upon a time, local and, I believe, state rules "required" captains to play in order of strength. That was abandoned after a few seasons because so many teams would not follow the "requirement" and because there was no way to enforce it, i.e., no legit way to determine relative skill. Here in Mississippi, all captains do as has been noted elsewhere--research your opponent's history of playing order and player strength and buy into the strategy game. As has also been pointed out, the other capt. is doing the same thing, so it typically gets to be a crap shoot. The problem with players perceiving a slight at playing # 3, etc. is universal--part of the captain's dilemma. Finally, thanks to oldguysrule for saying to 10sfreak what I feel strongly--tanking a match is cheating, pure and simple, and one of the reasons some players get such a bad taste in their mouth about USTA League tennis that they leave and don't come back.

    Tennis--cheaper than therapy and more effective.
     
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  25. Lindros13

    Lindros13 Semi-Pro

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    I'm new to USTA leagues so forgive me for not knowing....
    For USTA league matches, does one team (i.e. the away team) first post a line-up and then the other team get to look at it before posting their own line-up? Or do both captains come together and show their line-ups "at the same time"?

    From reading this thread, I presume one team shows first. Otherwise, if neither shows first, then it's a complete shot in the dark on who you will match up against, especially if a team mixes up their players at all different spots each match (i.e. John/Bill played 1st doubles last match and they played 2nd Doubles the match before, and 3rd doubles the match before that...)

    Thanks in advance for clarifying this.
     
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  26. cak

    cak Professional

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    They do swap lineups at the same time. So yeah, it's a shot in the dark.
     
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  27. Cruzer

    Cruzer Professional

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    As stated above the team captains swap lineups at the same time. The captains usually spend some time observing the players on the other team that are warming up to anticipate what the opposing lineup might be. I have played on teams where the captain wanted 10-12 players warming up before the match so the other team could not be sure which 8 people were actually going to be playing in the match. Diligent captains will also review the prior matches of the their opponents to see who the doubles teams are and what positions they play. Some teams are quite predictable where for example one doubles team always plays in the number one spot.
     
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  28. spiderman123

    spiderman123 Professional

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    The rating system is a feedback system. The computer cannot give you a perfect rating but can only provide a base to start. The actual rating will be dynamic results based. So the honest and logical thing to do when you find yourself winning almost all the matches is to try playing at a higher level. If you find yourself losing at that level very badly, then you may appeal to be brought down if that does not happen in the next refresh. Also, people should not play above their levels on a regular basis unless they really feel that they are ready. This may result in false DQs of higher levels.

    The system can only work if everyone follows these simple rules.

    Still this tanking is pure unsportsmanlike conduct. We need some major changes in the rating algo to prevent such things.
     
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  29. Raiden.Kaminari

    Raiden.Kaminari Semi-Pro

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    For High School tennis, you do have to play in order of strength.

    For USTA NorCal, the LLAR doesn't specify you have to play in order of strength. For combo and mixed seasons, I usually play straight, but some seasons, I decide the order of the line-up based on what time people show up. For example, for a 6:00pm match that has all 5 individual matches starting at the same time, whoever shows up first chooses the spot they are playing at. It freaks captains out who try to stack their line-up, because my line-ups are totally random.
     
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  30. oldguysrule

    oldguysrule Semi-Pro

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    Playing up does not result in false DQ's. Everybody listen, the only thing that matters is the actual dynamic rating of each player. It does not matter which line you play or whether you are playing up. The computer just looks at your dynamic rating compared to your opponent. It is programmed with what the scores SHOULD be based on the dynamic rating differential and makes an adjustment to the dynamic rating based on what the ACTUAL score was.

    The problem with the dynamic rating system is not in the computer. It is in the people that take advantage of the system. If everyone would spend less time trying to manipulate or change their ratings and more time playing tennis in an honorable and sportsmanlike fashion, the system would work fine.
     
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  31. spiderman123

    spiderman123 Professional

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    Ok, I stand corrected. And basically agree with your points that people should play in sportsmanlike fashion.
     
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  32. cak

    cak Professional

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    Can I just say this is the best method ever for determining who plays on what court. Do they all show up early then?
     
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  33. 10sfreak

    10sfreak Semi-Pro

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    And how exactly are we cheating? As I wrote previously, THE COMPUTER is what has assigned us our ratings. Then, in the middle of the season, THE COMPUTER DQs the players, making all their matches null and void. How is that fair? If the USTA would stick to a players rating 'till the end of the season, there wouldn't be this problem.
     
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  34. 10sfreak

    10sfreak Semi-Pro

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    Well, our players DO get beaten pretty badly when we play at the 3.5 level, so none of us have ever even been bumped up yet. But, like I wrote in my first post, if you win all your matches in a season, there's a very good chance you'll get DQed, thereby losing all the matches you've already played. Sure, we don't like tanking a match, but again, why should our team be punished just because we're winning? You're right, we do need some kind of revision to the rating algorithm.
     
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  35. Lindros13

    Lindros13 Semi-Pro

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    If you win all your matches, how does the computer then DQ you? Does it bump a player up to the next rating mid-season (say from 4.0 to 4.5), and then they are not eligible to be in the 4.0 league/team that they started in, thereby forcing a DQ for any match they played? Again, I am new to the USTA leagues so I don't know how this works.
     
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  36. 10sfreak

    10sfreak Semi-Pro

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    That is NOT the way the local league coordinators explained it to us at the captain's meeting two weeks ago. They told us that when you play up, depending on how well you do, it CAN and DOES affect not only YOUR rating, but the rating of everyone you play, AND who THEY play against. The 4th sentence in your post above has it right: "The computer just looks at your dynamic rating COMPARED TO YOUR OPPONENT." The key is the part that I capitalized: "compared to your opponent." That means, if you're playing up, even if you lose, but you do fairly well against them, it does bump your dynamic rating up. Then, when you have a bad day against a lesser opponent on your own level, it bumps his/her rating up. So, it does indeed affect everyone else's ratings when a player plays up.
     
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  37. 10sfreak

    10sfreak Semi-Pro

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    Spiderman, before you "stand corrected," please read my post above addressed to oldguysrule. (Post # 36).
     
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  38. 10sfreak

    10sfreak Semi-Pro

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    Yes, that's exactly what has happened to several players that I know. That's why people (like my team) manipulate the system, 'cause we don't want to wind up forfeiting a whole season's worth of matches. It's not fair to the individual player, nor is it fair to the team.
     
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  39. tennis-n-sc

    tennis-n-sc Professional

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    I swear I just passed a dead horse in the road! ;) I know that there is no definition of stacking or guidelines. However, there is stacking even if implied, especially in the Souther Section and especially when one advances to the state and sectional playoffs. Call it what you like, but in league play, one of the considerations is the team win and it is common to try to juggle the line-up to win 3 of the 5 lines any way it can be done. I don't mind sacrificing my line if it helps the team as long as it doesn't become a regular deal. A great thing about TennisLink is that it gives a history of tendencies of teams and who generally plays at what line. If you know you have a strong team, they likely will want to play the strongest opponents and let the best man (or woman)win. Btu the practice is common and is referred to as stacking. I believe the old horse just up and galloped off.:)
     
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  40. 10sfreak

    10sfreak Semi-Pro

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    Tennis-n-sc, that's exactly right. At least, that's the way it's done here in Georgia. They may not call it "stacking" in other areas of the country, but that's what we call it.
     
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  41. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

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    10sfreak - how is the computer supposed to assign people an appropriate rating if they are purposefully gaming the system to control their rating? I do agree, though, that computer rated players should have more protection against being DQ'd than self-rated players. But merely winning all of your matches won't necessarily get people disqualified.

    FWIW, if your opponents filed a grievance against you and were able to prove that you tanked matches to maintain a rating, you would be suspended.
     
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  42. spiderman123

    spiderman123 Professional

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    I agree with your post too. But then it is legal to increase your dynamic rating by playing against better opponents. This will also help the dynamic rating of the players at your own level as there must be some advantage when a 3.01 plays against a 3.48. That is how it should work IMHO.

    I stood corrected only on the false DQ part. I wrote that as I thought if a legit 3.5 beats up a bunch of 2.5/3/0 who are playing at 3.5, the legit guy may get a false DQ and will get bumped up to 4.0. This is not the case as their relative dynamic ratings will be considered.
     
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  43. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    FWIW, our section doesn't have an anti-stacking rule.

    Captains handle their line-ups all sorts of ways. Personally, I play it pretty straight most times. I've never once used a weak pair in No. 1 position, but I will sometimes put my second strongest team on court three and my weakest team on court two, just to guard against a stack. I don't feel we've ever lost a team match due to stacking.

    Actually, I like the idea of making Court One worth more points. How would that work, exactly?

    When I go out on the court, I want a competitive match. I don't want to find that I'm up against weak players on Court One. Anything that encourages competitive matches for all players is a good thing, IMHO. After all, isn't that why we have a rating system in the first place?
     
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  44. 10sfreak

    10sfreak Semi-Pro

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    Well, that's just it. There isn't enough protection against being DQed. A player on my team (he didn't used to be, but he is now) got DQed a year and a half ago, right in the middle of the season, presumably because he's won all his matches (he wasn't playing up at the time, so what else could it have been?), thereby retroactively forfeiting all his matches, hurting not only himself, but his team as well. They didn't get to compete in the state championships that season, 'cause after having his wins taken away, his team was no longer the division winner. (Disclaimer: He was a self-rated 2.5 player, but, he had never picked up a racquet before in his life, and it was his very first season of play). It's in light of these circumstances that we are comtemplating manipulating the system, i.e., tanking on some matches to keep our dynamic rating from getting us DQed.
    Btw, he is not the only player this has happened to in our local league. There's a couple of other guys as well, and a girl I know, who've had this happen to them, and they were all computer-rated.
     
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  45. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

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    I have an idea. Winning on court 1 doesn't count more for the team match, but it usually does count more for your rating because you are more likely to play a stronger player. So a player who goes undefeated on court 1 will end up with a higher rating at the end of the year, since many teams still put the strongest players at number 1.

    So here's the plan to discourage stacking:

    Instead of making each match count as one point, you could determine who goes to sectionals by taking the average computer rating of each team at the end of the season. Each player would start with a clean slate. After 3 or 4 matches, the computer standings would go up on tennislink, kinda like the BCS.

    Since a win over a top player would be worth more than a win over a weak player, there would be incentive to put the best players at number 1. Of course, this would favor a deeper team more than the current format, since the current format allows a team to go undefeated even if there are 2 weak slots in the lineup every week.

    It would also generate interest because each player would be aware of his/her real-time rating. And that would be fun! Each player would have a season-ending rating for each league he/she plays in every year.

    Then there could even be a rule that your players must play in order of real-time rating. So the order would be predetermined.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2007
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  46. 10sfreak

    10sfreak Semi-Pro

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    Travler, that sounds like an excellent idea! Unfortunately, as explained to us, no one can ever know their dynamic rating, as of now anyway. But having each player's dynamic rating on tennislink could solve a lot of these problems we've been discussing.
     
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  47. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

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    I've thought about that too. The problem is that if someone sees that their dynamic rating is about to bump them up or earn them a strike, they'll be even more likely to throw games, sets, or matches to protect their ratings.

    I don't think there's much that can be done to stop someone who is determined to cheat in a recreational league from doing so.
     
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  48. 10sfreak

    10sfreak Semi-Pro

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    Yes Kyle, I can see how that would be a big problem. I think the best solution would be this: If, when I created/signed up for my team online back in January, I was accepted by the computer as a 3.0 (especially if I'm a computer-rated 3.0, which I am), then that should be what I remain until the season ends in April, regardless of how well I may do. There should not be any way I can get bumped up/DQed in the middle of the season, even if I win all my matches 6-0, 6-0 (which, believe me, ain't gonna happen, not the way I play!). This would eliminate any need, perceived or otherwise, to tank in a match. Unfortunately, as I've stated several times already, that's not how it's done. Theoretically, I could get bumped up/DQed 2/3 of the way through the season, retroactively forfeiting all my matches, thereby hurting my team's chances of going to the state championships. So unfortunately, in order to avoid any potential DQs, we're going to have to plan on some of my players tanking a match. I don't like it, my players don't like it (hell, who WANTS to lose a match?!), but that's the reality we face...
     
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  49. oldguysrule

    oldguysrule Semi-Pro

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    May 2, 2005
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    706
    Location:
    Texas
    If you tank a match to manipulate your rating, you are cheating...cheating yourself, cheating your opponent, and cheating the game of tennis.

    Have you ever had anyone DQ'd? It actually does not happen often. Why don't you just play tennis, play your best, have fun, and quit worrying about what the computer is doing.

    It is fair because, if you do get DQ'd, you shouldn't have been playing at that level to begin with. and as I said, it is a rare occurence.
     
    #49
  50. 10sfreak

    10sfreak Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Messages:
    698
    Location:
    Georgia
    Read some of my previous posts right before your responses, especially post #44, and you'll know what I'm talking about regarding DQs.
     
    #50

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