Talk Tennis

Talk Tennis (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php)
-   Adult League & Tournament Talk (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/forumdisplay.php?f=35)
-   -   A defense for the (presumed) sandbagger (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=127571)

penpal 04-10-2007 07:46 AM

A defense for the (presumed) sandbagger
 
It doesn't take much reading in this forum to understand that most tennis players look upon sandbaggers in USTA league play with about the same level of loathing as they would upon a person who steals purses from elderly women.

FWIW, I agree with this sentiment. But I've recently discovered that I myself am being viewed as a sandbagger by some in my league, and this has caused me to reconsider this harsh judgement.

My background: I've been a 3.5 rated player for about 6 years now. For 5 of these years I have played mostly singles and won probably somewhere around 85-90% of my matches. At the end of every season I think, "Hmmmm, I think I might get bumped up this year," but so far, no go.

Several players whom I've beaten have been moved to 4.0 over those years -- sometimes in the year I beat them.

My team has made it to Districts every year for the past 5 years. Whereas my winning percentage is probably somewhere around 95% in my town, against the tougher competition at the district level my winning percentage is closer to 50%. I don't try to lose at Districts, these players are simply of a higher quality and I have a more difficult time winning.

Here, in my opinion, is the rub ... and the reason we all might want to cut some of these presumed sandbaggers some slack. Several players in my town have been bumped to 4.0 after they had a great winning percentage locally, but their teams did not advance to Districts. It seems that the algorithm used by the USTA to calculate ratings doesn't accurately weight matches, and so my losses at Districts cause me to remain a 3.5, even as I consistently beat players locally who are bumped to 4.0 based on their local record.

I'm not saying all sandbaggers are legitimately trying to win and are being kept at a lower rating (perhaps unfairly) by a faulty computer system, but based on my experience it does happen.

And to those of you who might ask why I don't just play up, rather than continue beating up on 3.5s my answer is simple ... no one has asked me to play on their 4.0 team. My option appears to be play 3.5 or don't play USTA league tennis at all, which would be a shame because I do enjoy the team aspect of it.

oldguysrule 04-10-2007 08:01 AM

I think everyone who has been at the top of their level, about to bump up, has been accused of sandbagging at least once. To me, a true sand-bagger is someone who self rates too low or someone who sits out and comes back in at a lower level. If you have been computer rated for 5-6 years, you are not sandbagging. However, I would make more of an effort to play at the 4.0 level as well as 3.5.

Do you play any tournaments? Playing up in bigger tournaments can put you in situations where your true ability will be reflected.

In my area, if someone wants to play USTA league, it is not uncommon for them to contact captains to try to get on a team. You might only get a few matches at the higher level, but that would get you in the door.

Also, how many matches per year do you play that are reflected in the system? (USTA league or USTA sanctioned tournament matches)

ohplease 04-10-2007 08:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by penpal (Post 1369360)
It doesn't take much reading in this forum to understand that most tennis players look upon sandbaggers in USTA league play with about the same level of loathing as they would upon a person who steals purses from elderly women.

FWIW, I agree with this sentiment. But I've recently discovered that I myself am being viewed as a sandbagger by some in my league, and this has caused me to reconsider this harsh judgement.

My background: I've been a 3.5 rated player for about 6 years now. For 5 of these years I have played mostly singles and won probably somewhere around 85-90% of my matches. At the end of every season I think, "Hmmmm, I think I might get bumped up this year," but so far, no go.

Several players whom I've beaten have been moved to 4.0 over those years -- sometimes in the year I beat them.

My team has made it to Districts every year for the past 5 years. Whereas my winning percentage is probably somewhere around 95% in my town, against the tougher competition at the district level my winning percentage is closer to 50%. I don't try to lose at Districts, these players are simply of a higher quality and I have a more difficult time winning.

Here, in my opinion, is the rub ... and the reason we all might want to cut some of these presumed sandbaggers some slack. Several players in my town have been bumped to 4.0 after they had a great winning percentage locally, but their teams did not advance to Districts. It seems that the algorithm used by the USTA to calculate ratings doesn't accurately weight matches, and so my losses at Districts cause me to remain a 3.5, even as I consistently beat players locally who are bumped to 4.0 based on their local record.

I'm not saying all sandbaggers are legitimately trying to win and are being kept at a lower rating (perhaps unfairly) by a faulty computer system, but based on my experience it does happen.

And to those of you who might ask why I don't just play up, rather than continue beating up on 3.5s my answer is simple ... no one has asked me to play on their 4.0 team. My option appears to be play 3.5 or don't play USTA league tennis at all, which would be a shame because I do enjoy the team aspect of it.

I have no insider knowledge about the USTA's algorithm, but in my own experience I've seen quite a few players that aren't very good singles players at one level bumped up to the next. The key seems to be regardless of wins or loses at either level, the matches are kept close enough to be considered "competitive." Additionally, these players are almost always playing doubles, not singles, and they're playing up at the next level above their current rating.

In other words, it appears to me at least that it's not about winning or losing, but rather whether or not you can compete at that level. You'd have to have pretty lopsided scores, either way, for that not to be true - especially when most league players will slack towards a 6-4, 6-4 result when they could have buried the other guy.

Swissv2 04-10-2007 08:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ohplease (Post 1369414)
I have no insider knowledge about the USTA's algorithm, but in my own experience I've seen quite a few players that aren't very good singles players at one level bumped up to the next. The key seems to be regardless of wins or loses at either level, the matches are kept close enough to be considered "competitive." Additionally, these players are almost always playing doubles, not singles, and they're playing up at the next level above their current rating.

In other words, it appears to me at least that it's not about winning or losing, but rather whether or not you can compete at that level. You'd have to have pretty lopsided scores, either way, for that not to be true - especially when most league players will slack towards a 6-4, 6-4 result when they could have buried the other guy.

Something important has been noted here.

Those people who are at a particular level but do not truely deserve to be there (a low level that has been moved up in NTRP) may have a tendency to call out "sandbaggers".

Case and point: The level of play for a particular rating in one state is and entirely different level of play for the same rating in another state. There have been many 3.5s that play strong in locals, but once they go to nationals they get spanked left and right by other 3.5s.

Is this to say that the local 3.5s should be lowered on the NTRP scale to adhere to national standards? That would be an entire discussion in itself.

True sandbaggers, IMO, are those who have played at an entirely higher level and are able to compete (i.e. Old D1 College players), only to "rate" themselves lower on the NTRP scale (i.e. Going from D1 and rating themselves as a 4.0) so they can get easy wins.

JLyon 04-10-2007 10:08 AM

well Southern just took a hard stance on players by bumping a former college player (02-06) to 5.5 that self-rated 4.5. Texas has done this several times also with former players rating 4.5 or 5.0 and bumping them to 5.5 and even 6.0.
If you have been a 3.5 in the computer for 5-6 years then that is pretty accurate. No computer is perfect and the USTA is far from perfect.

kevhen 04-10-2007 12:52 PM

It's hard to get bumped up unless you really dominate at your level. Play some 4.0 tournies and if you win some 4.0 matches you will get bumped up sooner than later. The USTA uses a tragically flawed system that has way too much overlap which allows inadvertant sandbagging to happen as in your case. I have lost some 4.0 matches this year to guys who were better than some 4.5 guys that I beat. The USTA formula is really messed up and they won't explain it.

I remember when I first joined the USTA 5 years ago and a guy pointing out to me that it was hard to tell the difference between the 3.5 final, the 4.0 final, and the 4.5 final as they were all playing next to each other. The 3.5 guys were like solid-strong 4.0s. The 4.0s were like strong 4.0-weak 4.5 and the 4.5s were like weak-solid 4.5s (most of the stronger 4.5s play Open level).

penpal 04-10-2007 04:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kevhen (Post 1369880)
It's hard to get bumped up unless you really dominate at your level. Play some 4.0 tournies and if you win some 4.0 matches you will get bumped up sooner than later. The USTA uses a tragically flawed system that has way too much overlap which allows inadvertant sandbagging to happen as in your case.

Actually, up until this year I wasn't all that concerned with getting bumped ... I tend to just go out and do my best, and let the chips fall where they may. Over the past couple of years especially, I thought it was odd that some of my competition was moved up while I was not, but I honestly assumed the good people at the USTA had probably put a lot more time into thinking about the rating algorithm than I had, so I'd trust their judgement.

Not wanting to be saddled with a bad reputation, however, I think I'll take your advice and the advice of oldguysrule and will probably play some 4.0 tournies and make a concerted run at a 4.0 rating.

I think the "real" solution is probably a tweaking of the algorithm, but who has time to wait around for that to occur :p

Cindysphinx 04-10-2007 04:14 PM

Hey, if you're going out and playing to win every match, you're not a sandbagger IMHO.

Somebody has to be the best 3.5 guy in town, right?

Topaz 04-10-2007 06:28 PM

A woman I know actually appealed up...can you do the same?

Caswell 04-11-2007 03:16 AM

If you play league tennis at your computer-designated NTRP, I don't think playing up in tournaments will help.

I did the same thing last year in an attempt to have my 3.0 self-rate turn into a 3.5 year-end (benchmark) rating. Didn't lose more than two games a set at 3.0 until I got to regionals, where I went 2-1. The loss was against another self-rated 3.0 that was bumped to 3.5 at year-end, and included a tiebreak set.

My tournament results at 3.5 were 2-2. Both wins were against computer rated 3.5 players, and both losses were against players without ratings (one of whom was rated 4.0 at year-end and is now winning every 4.0 tournment he enters).

I still play tournaments, but it's only for fun now. I honestly believe that as a league player all I'm doing in tournaments is helping establish the NTRP of the the guys that don't play leagues.

flash9 04-11-2007 07:07 AM

Something Else to Consider
 
You state that some of the guys you have beaten over the last couple of years were moved up, while you did not. Something else to consider or potentially look into, is if they were also playing on 4.0 teams. A surefire way to get bumped up is to play above your level and to play competitively.
Two years ago, about half of the better players on the 3.5 team I was playing on decided to try to play up at the 4.0 level. We lost every match last year but everyone got bumped up and none of us won our appeals except me. I can only think it was because I had shoulder surgery and only played 3 matches and lost all but one pretty badly. This season we are 4-1 with basically the same team and I have a 5-0 record. I am pretty sure this will be my last season as with a 3.5 rating.
If you are curious why we even wanted to keep our 3.5 ratings, here in the Fall we play what is called 7.5 combo, where you play three courts of doubles, and the total of the two players can not exceed 7.5. Now with all but two players (I added a new 3.5 who wanted to play with us) we will be unable to play in the 7.5 Combo, and if we choose to play 8.5 Combo we will have a lot of fun losing! :p

Caswell 04-11-2007 07:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by flash9 (Post 1371545)
You state that some of the guys you have beaten over the last couple of years were moved up, while you did not. Something else to consider or potentially look into, is if they were also playing on 4.0 teams. A surefire way to get bumped up is to play above your level and to play competitively.

Not in my case.

The self-rated 3.0 I lost to who was bumped to 3.5 in the early start ratings only played 3.0 league tennis and combo 6.5, at least according to Tennislink.

The unrated player I lost to in a 3.5 tournament does not play in leagues, and won every 3.5 tournament he entered last year. So far he's won every 4.0 tournament he's entered this year.

I've given up on rigid definitions of NTRP. There's far more overlap than the USTA would have us believe. Look at the numerical seperation for a match score of 6-0, 6-0. It's around 0.30, isn't it? I've been on the giving and receiving end of a double bagel in the past year, and I can tell you there's a lot more than one NTRP level seperating that kind of score.

It'll be interesting if my serve is on at 3.0 regionals this year. I doubt they're going to take kindly to a high percentage 110-120mph first serve (and yes, I was radared as a junior so I know what 110mph serves feel like).

flash9 04-11-2007 08:08 AM

100mph Plus Serves
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Caswell (Post 1371624)
Not in my case.

Are you playing on a 3.5 Team? If so, what is your record? Singles and Doubles.

If you truly have a first serve that exceeds 100mph, then that alone would make you deadly at the 3.0 level in NC! I have a very accurate serve and if my partner signals me to serve down the middle, body, or wide. I am able to hit it to that spot 90% of the time, but at best my serve is 60 to 65mph. :D

Caswell 04-11-2007 08:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by flash9
Are you playing on a 3.5 Team? If so, what is your record? Singles and Doubles

Singles:
(W) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4; self-rated opponent who's 2-2 in 3.5 play this season
(L) 6-3, 3-6, 6-1; self-rated opponent who's 4-0 in 3.5 play this season

Doubles:
(L) 6-4, 6-1; playing with a 3.0 partner, opponents have not dropped a set in two seasons of 3.5 play

Quote:

Originally Posted by flash9 (Post 1371647)
If you truly have a first serve that exceeds 100mph, then that alone would make you deadly at the 3.0 level in NC!

My serve is my primary weapon, but any (and I do mean any) return in play neutralizes it. My midcourt game is still suffering from a nine-year layoff from tennis, and putting away or even hitting a deep approach off of a midcourt sitter is still a task for me.

I've got no illusions about being a 4.0 player. I've played 4.0 players recently, and I can pull a couple games per set off of them but I'm not putting them in any danger of losing. I'm competitive at 3.5, but having a 3.0 rating means my captain expects me to play on the 3.0 team as well, which is time I'd rather spend on more competitive matches.

flash9 04-11-2007 11:06 AM

I understand where you are coming from!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Caswell (Post 1371684)
...which is time I'd rather spend on more competitive matches.

This is exactly why eight other guys and I decided to create a 4.0 team a couple of years ago. Even though the team we were on at the 3.5 level was just doing OK, we wanted to raise our level of playing to a more competitive level. That being said, none of us were already playing on a 4.0 team, so no feelings were hurt, and in fact I helped the caption of the 3.5 team we were leaving find additional player to fill some of his new open spots.

Find, or create, a 3.5 team that you feel comfortable with and play with them. :D

burosky 04-11-2007 02:01 PM

I think everyone will agree there is no such thing as a perfect system. This includes the USTA NTRP system. It is never a good feeling to be accused of sandbagging. Unfortunately, this happens more often than we think specially for those players who are in the cusp of being bumped up to the next higher level. Those who make the accusation should really do a little bit of research. As flawed as the USTA NTRP system is, a player who has a computer rating over a period of a few years (perhaps 2 - 3 years at least?) should really not be looked at as a sandbagger regardless of how well they do in their level. Aside from those who are able to manage their scores to protect ratings, I think players who have a long track record for the most part are pretty much playing at the level their computer rating gives them.

The beauty of this NTRP rating is you can always play up. Heck, you can even captain a 5.5 team composed of 3.5 players to get a taste of 5.5 competition if you wanted to. Of course that would be extreme. Just trying to make a point. My advise? Just enjoy your 3.5 rating. Let the chips fall where they may. If you intend to play up, make sure it is because that is what you want and not because you want to appease your accusers. You don't even need to defend yourself. I won't be surprised if your accusers are those who you beat but got bumped up to 4.0. To me, all that suggest is jealousy. Maybe they should appeal to get their old rating back. They might be torn though because they might be enjoying the idea that they are at a higher level now.

kevhen 04-11-2007 02:46 PM

A 4.0 lady in my area has a 79-19 record over the last 4 years and hasn't been bumped up yet. She was 3-3 against 4.5 rated players last year and also won all 3 of her district matches and hasn't played any sectional matches. 79-19 is a very good record not to get bumped and she wins by a large margin in most of her matches like 6-2, 6-1. The USTA's NTRP formula is f'ed up.

North 04-11-2007 04:30 PM

I dealt with the USTA about the sandbagging issue a few years ago - spoke to a number of people at the national level. (What can I say - I'm just an activist at heart :)). They kept pointing out that people purposely don't do their best on visual ratings and even came close to admitting that the sandbagging screws up the formula they use to calculate ratings.

A suggestion that has been repeatedly made to USTA is to bring back visual ratings only for people who want to appeal up. Ie - people who feel they have not been bumped up when they should be or even bumped down when they should not be. So far, USTA has not been able to give me (or anyone else I know) a good reason not to do this. Seems like that sort of rating might be more of a true benchmark than with the current system. I've always wondered if a petition on just that suggestion would have any effect....

penpal 04-11-2007 05:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kevhen (Post 1372312)
A 4.0 lady in my area has a 79-19 record over the last 4 years and hasn't been bumped up yet. She was 3-3 against 4.5 rated players last year and also won all 3 of her district matches and hasn't played any sectional matches. 79-19 is a very good record not to get bumped and she wins by a large margin in most of her matches like 6-2, 6-1. The USTA's NTRP formula is f'ed up.

You made me curious to see what my record was over the past 4 years. FWIW, I'm 72-21 in singles and men's doubles - most of it singles (I didn't include mixed doubles and only included USTA league and tournament matches).

So, not as good a record as the woman you mention.

penpal 04-11-2007 05:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by burosky (Post 1372246)
My advise? Just enjoy your 3.5 rating. Let the chips fall where they may. If you intend to play up, make sure it is because that is what you want and not because you want to appease your accusers.

Very wise advice, thank you.


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:10 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
© 2006 - Tennis Warehouse