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-   -   Do Players Have to Cheat to Win? (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=108021)

10sguy 12-03-2006 10:07 PM

Do Players Have to Cheat to Win?
 
It's believed by some that a perception exists (yes, this of course is putting it mildly) that, in order to win in league tennis, some form of cheating is usually necessary. The cheating can be anything from a simple mistake by an uninformed newcomer on self-rating, to outright fudging on self-rating (including lying or being less than completely honest regarding playing history), to sandbagging (playing at less than full effort or capability - including intentionally losing games, sets, even matches) in an effort to keep one's rating at a level where they can win, to blatant cheating (bad lines calls, etc.) in matches. There is a growing feeling that this perception (if it exists) results in (1) Difficulty in recruiting new league players . . . (2) Difficulty in retaining league players, and . . . (3) Difficulty in recovering lapsed (former) league players. These are known in USTA circles as the "three R's" of league tennis; In order to maintain and grow, we must RECRUIT new players, RETAIN existing players, and RECOVER lapsed (former) players.

The traditional tennis scoring system used for league tennis (match results generate player ratings) leaves plenty of wiggle room (for those so disposed) to manipulate their scores in order to achieve a desired result (the rating they want) so they can continue to "win."

Can this group brainstorm possible alternative determinations of league standings, something which would provide clear incentives to put forth maximum effort every time out? Another way of putting it is to come up with a scoring/standings determination methodology which provides a disincentive to put forth less than full effort.

Those are just the frameworks of ideas which some have been tossing about; Please don't be restricted by what's in the above paragraph.

We supposedly pride ourselves in being part of a sport which oozes sportsmanship, but that aspect seems all too often to be lacking among some in league tennis. Having league tennis organized by playing levels (NTRP) is SUPPOSED to result in competitive matches, however the desired "level playing field" is lost when the system is manipulated for selfish personal/team reasons.

Please get rolling on this; Remember, no idea is "wrong" during a brainstorming session. Just throw it out there . . . you never know what might give birth to someone else's truly creative thought.

Duzza 12-03-2006 10:24 PM

Cheating gets you no where, apart from one point closer to the game, and in the end is it really worth it?

cak 12-03-2006 10:37 PM

I believe cheating is not necessary to win a match, or even to win most matches. I believe cheating in the way you have defined it is necessary to win Nationals in adult or mixed leagues. Mostly because, the way you defined it, it is impossible to accurately police. So, here's my idea. It's no longer cheating. You can self rate however you want. Once rated manage your rating until your hearts content. Once everyone is doing it, it's no longer cheating. No three strikes. No visual rating defaults. No filing grievances. That's the road to Nationals.

Meanwhile have other leagues that top out at local playoffs. They have a code for ratings and such, just like today's leagues. Winner gets a banner that says something like "Nor Cal Lower Pennisula Women's 2.5 champs." Make it suitable to hang on their courts. I suspect, without the glory of Nationals, the people who will do anything for a National championship will shun this league, leaving it for the folks looking for friendly play against like minded folks that actually play that level. There will be lots more champions. I also suspect there will be lots more players. (Note, if I see people cheating to get a banner, I'd say drop the playoffs altogether.)

Now, for the folks that like to play people from around the country organize weekend tournaments for teams, say a 3.5 team tournament. Teams from all around the country come. The way you get in, your team gets the most votes from teams you've played against. That's right, think of it as "Miss Congeniality" based tournies. I guarantee the cheaters won't make it to this one.

Cindysphinx 12-03-2006 11:03 PM

Is it really that bad?

I dunno. I show up for my matches. I lose most, I win a few. I go home with goals for the future.

I mean, no one is going to Wimbledon based on what happens at league. No money is at stake. If someone selfrates too low and also takes a dive on some games to avoid disqualification, thereby never challenging themselves, then they are destined to never get any better. If they want it that badly, they can have it.

And really, how exciting can it be to tell people you won a Ladies 3.0 tournament if all your pals know you play way better than that? That's nothing against those who win tournaments at the lower levels of our sport. I have a 2.5 singles trophy, and I still mention it to anyone who will listen! Did ya hear that, people! I went home with that 2.5 bling! :D

The title is only meaningful to me because I came by it honestly.

CanadianChic 12-03-2006 11:14 PM

If someone has to cheat to win they will never achieve victory, only a piece of tin or glass commemorating their inability to reach greatness through skill.

betiYonex 12-04-2006 02:05 AM

It's sad but true.
This is the point where the american way of winning or being a loser is leading us.
There's no room for a great lose after a complete match. Only winning matters.
That's why I see great junior tennis players with initial problems to win be apparted by team captains and sponsors. Good future tennis players with delayed physical development are beeing ejected from the sport as they arenīt winning initial matches and tournaments.
The winning juniors but not so skilled are the must. They win and it's Ok.
Not to fight, train or learn. They know they are judged about his ranking and they limit themselves to win. If cheating is needed, cheating is Ok. For them, their trainers, parents, etc.... And it is being generalized and assumed by all people.
It's a hard task for us trainers to learn about fighting, learning, personal objectives, self-discypline, sportmanship, etc...
Where is that old gentleman sport we was once talked about?
regards

federer_nadal 12-04-2006 03:20 AM

if you cheat yourself to the top, one day when you have to play a good honest game you are fuhked. I will take loss after loss on the chest before i will ever cheat because you cant get to the top without having your share of losses. Apparently Federer wasnt an awesome junior and was very sad and disappointed when he lost, and now look at him. Losing gives me and gave him the desire to get better and hopefully one day all this will pay off and i will be able to give people the losses.

tennis-n-sc 12-04-2006 04:22 AM

"When the score keeper comes to record the names,
He'll ask not who won or lost, but how you played the game."

When winning at any cost becomes the mantra, playing with honor always takes a back seat. I've been on a team that went to state several times and finally won. We did well at sectionals, losing once to the eventual winner. Everyone on our team had a legitimate rating and we had all been together for about four years. We had an unbelieveable bond. So, yes you can win without cheating. And I also believe that at the end of the day, honest players come from honest people. These people would never consider hooking someone on a line call, even in a heated match. I've never witnessed anyone become a moral person by winning a match on a tennis court but I have seen many honorable people walk onto a court, lose the match, and leave the court with their honor. What's more important?

goober 12-04-2006 05:23 AM

If you want to get cheating out of USTA league tennis get rid of nationals/regionals or crowning any type of champion. My nonUSTA leagues rarely if ever have any sandbagging or people self rating too low because there is no other reason to play and try to improve. At then end of the season the winning teams are kept intact and move up to the next level. People often try to play up a level to get better competition and are not scared of losing matches.

It is amazing how many USTA team captains will game the system to their advantage and deliberately have self raters that are far too low, or sanbaggers and then throw their hands up and say I didn't break any rules. They actually believe as long as the get away with things then their honor is intact.

Supernatural_Serve 12-04-2006 05:52 AM

Cheating is a way of life. Increasingly, for more and more people, it is their way of life whether its in school, business, socially, politics, or on the tennis court.

Its all one glorified game of cheating, take before being taken (money), a byproduct of scarcity of opportunity (thanks for the job), and competitition (thanks for the steroids)

This is a values issue for each person to work out for themselves. But, whose teaching people values? The "baby boomer me generation" They are masters of the game and they teach their spawn well.

And if it doesn't bother you to cheat, then cheat. Do what's right for you.

So, its easy to see how most people become cheaters. Its a way of life all around us at every turn and none of them feel any shame. They have a ready made rationalized thesis for why they cheat.

I've never played a district or sectional match that wasn't filled with players playing below their true level, that's how their team went 10-0 to get there.

fuzz nation 12-04-2006 08:51 AM

Gene Scott and Tennis Week were right on with their diagnosis: if the status quo doesn't get a kick in the butt, the USTA will become irrelevant. I've been not-too-impressed with the USTA since I got on a team for the first time a while back. Had to respect the rating process when it was done by trained eyes, but by recently leaving the ratings up to the players and the computers, the powers that be have pulled a big fat cop-out. They'd rather take membership fees from lots of cheaters than actually act like the governing body of the sport and kick a few bad apples out of the sandbox.

We can ***** and moan all we want--it may be more healthy than keeping it in--but I'm in the middle of drafting a letter to the USTA honchos about this grievance and about some shortcomings in the set-up at the US Open. I can't individually do much about cheaters in the league, but they can and ultimately they work for us. I encourage EVERYONE with positive or negative feedback to write a letter, send an e-mail, or write a protest anthem!

raiden031 12-04-2006 11:14 AM

It is quite clear to me the ONLY way to end the cheating is to abolish Nationals when dividing skill levels by ARBITRARY lines. You can have nationals by age, but not by NTRP. You can have leagues only for people who have not played pro or college, to keep the elite players out. Thats about all you can do to prevent sandbaggers.

Even if you are not trying to be a sandbagger, the only way you will get on a team or get playing time is if you underrate your NTRP level. I really wanted to join a 3.5 team because I would be up against better players who I can learn more from, but only 3.0 captains responded to my ad so I had no choice. I am playing in the winter and spring, and I am pretty sure I will get disqualified in the Spring, especially if I keep up my practice routine.

I feel like I am cheating because I feel like I have no business playing 3.0, but its either that or play nothing.

fuzz nation 12-04-2006 07:38 PM

Sorry for getting a little excited there, but it really burns me that the big organizing body of our beloved game allows such a counterproductive trend to keep on happening every season.

Hey raiden, depending on the amount of time you have, you might want to start your own team and just fill it with cool people. Match results aren't such a big deal in that kind of group when the team just enjoys getting together.

SATennis 12-04-2006 08:16 PM

From the sounds of it, some major changes need to take place in the USTA league system, especially with regard to the NTRP. Everyone has talked a lot about cheaters, but when you leave it to the players to rate themselves, you are always going to get major differences in levels. Some people are modest, some over exagerate their abilities, and some have no idea what level they really are. Of course, there are those that purposefully cheat to win leagues, but with the current system, they can.

I get sick of having players come to my club telling me they are 4.0's and after I have set up a game for them with one of my member 4.0's I realize that the guy was a 3.0 if he was lucky. But he tells me that I am wrong in rating my member because his pro rated him as a 4.0. So even when the ratings are done by professionals, the results are scewed.

Does the USTA league system track every match you play, and adjust your NTRP rating according to the scores in your matches?

I have recently moved to kansas City so I have not had much involvement in it, but I have heard excellent things about the Kansas City league which is run using the Tencap rating system. After doing more research, this Tencap league has a completely different rating system to the NTRP. Ratings are adjusted using an algorithm based on games won against other rated opponents. It can convert to the NTRP rating system, but it has more precise levels, ranging from 0-80 (80 being a beginner). They have had a lot of success in Kansas City. I will look into it more, but this rating system may be able to avoid or reduce some of the sandbagging that is happening right now.

Has anyone ever heard of TENCAP?
Are players or teams in the current USTA leagues able to move up or down in their levels during a season?

Supernatural_Serve 12-05-2006 05:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SATennis (Post 1101404)
I get sick of having players come to my club telling me they are 4.0's and after I have set up a game for them with one of my member 4.0's I realize that the guy was a 3.0 if he was lucky. But he tells me that I am wrong in rating my member because his pro rated him as a 4.0. So even when the ratings are done by professionals, the results are scewed.

Can't blame a pro earning a living for telling his paying customer what the customer wants to hear. Also, you can't blame the pro for telling a customer that after 6 to 12 months of lessons they haven't improved their rating (and many people don't improve in part because they don't listen to their instructors anyway, don't work on conditiong, and don't actually practice).

Who wants to lose a paying customer over something as irrelevant as an NTRP rating that for most people who don't play USTA leagues or tournaments is irrelevant anyway?

Cindysphinx 12-05-2006 06:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by raiden031 (Post 1100487)
Even if you are not trying to be a sandbagger, the only way you will get on a team or get playing time is if you underrate your NTRP level. I really wanted to join a 3.5 team because I would be up against better players who I can learn more from, but only 3.0 captains responded to my ad so I had no choice. I am playing in the winter and spring, and I am pretty sure I will get disqualified in the Spring, especially if I keep up my practice routine.

I feel like I am cheating because I feel like I have no business playing 3.0, but its either that or play nothing.

Raiden, the advice to start your own team is spot-on. Get a co-captain and just do it. You can play whatever level you want, and you needn't suffer the pressure from teammates who want to win very badly.

And you can run your team the way a team should be run. Whatever that is.

ohplease 12-05-2006 06:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by goober (Post 1100115)
If you want to get cheating out of USTA league tennis get rid of nationals/regionals or crowning any type of champion. My nonUSTA leagues rarely if ever have any sandbagging or people self rating too low because there is no other reason to play and try to improve. At then end of the season the winning teams are kept intact and move up to the next level. People often try to play up a level to get better competition and are not scared of losing matches.

It is amazing how many USTA team captains will game the system to their advantage and deliberately have self raters that are far too low, or sanbaggers and then throw their hands up and say I didn't break any rules. They actually believe as long as the get away with things then their honor is intact.

Best post in the thread.

goober 12-05-2006 11:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cindysphinx (Post 1101927)
Raiden, the advice to start your own team is spot-on. Get a co-captain and just do it. You can play whatever level you want, and you needn't suffer the pressure from teammates who want to win very badly.

And you can run your team the way a team should be run. Whatever that is.

Sounds good in theory but it is not that easy to actually start a team. I tried it with another friend and we could not get enough people together. You would probably need at least 10-12 people to commit to a team since a lot of people have working and family obligations. Most people were either on a team, fed up with USTA league tennis or just weren't interested. If you have trouble meeting people for tennis how are you going to get 10-12 players at a particular NTRP level together?

You also have to find a club that will let you use them as a home court for matches. This actually was a harder than I thought it would be.

raiden031 12-05-2006 12:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by goober (Post 1102344)
Sounds good in theory but it is not that easy to actually start a team. I tried it with another friend and we could not get enough people together. You would probably need at least 10-12 people to commit to a team since a lot of people have working and family obligations. Most people were either on a team, fed up with USTA league tennis or just weren't interested. If you have trouble meeting people for tennis how are you going to get 10-12 players at a particular NTRP level together?

You also have to find a club that will let you use them as a home court for matches. This actually was a harder than I thought it would be.

For a given USTA league match between teams, how many courts do you need and how much time needs to be allocated to the match?

CrocodileRock 12-05-2006 12:19 PM

Starting a team
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by goober (Post 1102344)
Sounds good in theory but it is not that easy to actually start a team. I tried it with another friend and we could not get enough people together. You would probably need at least 10-12 people to commit to a team since a lot of people have working and family obligations. Most people were either on a team, fed up with USTA league tennis or just weren't interested. If you have trouble meeting people for tennis how are you going to get 10-12 players at a particular NTRP level together?

You also have to find a club that will let you use them as a home court for matches. This actually was a harder than I thought it would be.

Yes, the first year is the hardest because of recruiting. You have to find enough players, make sure they are good enough without being too good, learn all the paperwork, etc. But if you do a good job, your players will stick around the second year, leaving only a few spots to fill instead of 10. Also, if you build your reputation as a good captain, other players will seek you out first, making it even easier.

And we played on school courts a few years in the 90s to save money. No court fees, no membership requirements, we just had to furnish the balls, but fortunately, never had to wait for a court


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