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-   -   Making a good line-up for league play despite two weak players (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=97054)

Cindysphinx 09-12-2006 03:02 PM

Making a good line-up for league play despite two weak players
 
I'm new around these parts, and I hope you all can help. So hello, everyone!

I'm a second-time adult league captain, and I'm setting my line-up for the season. The team is 5.5 combo (Don't laugh! We're trying to improve). The league is three doubles matches per outing, best 2 out of 3 wins.

There are four other teams in our division, and I would guess we are the second-strongest team, perhaps. There is no requirement that you play your strongest doubles teams at No. 1 doubles, but there is an unwritten expectation against stacking, and I intend to comply with it.

I have committed to play all of my players and give them their fair share of matches. Life would be easy if I could just bench the weak ones and play the strong ones, but that's not our mutual agreement. We'll have 12 team matches, and each of the two weak players must get 4 matches during the season.

How should I set my line-up given the presence of my two 2.5 players who struggle the most? Should I put four strong players on the No. 1 and No. 2 courts and put the two weakest players together on Court 3 for a "throwaway match"? Should I put one of the weakest players with the strongest player on Court 2 and hope for the best?

Any suggestions about how to minimize the effect of my two weakest players?

Cindy

drakulie 09-12-2006 03:09 PM

Stack them, at the level you are competing nobody will be able to tell the difference.

Ulam 09-12-2006 03:21 PM

I've been playing league matches for about 6 years. The smart captains usually mix it up very well but they hardly put their best guys at number three spot. :) I think you should try to have fun and improve instead of trying hard to win. You will limit your abilities if you always think I must win.

kevhen 09-13-2006 06:53 AM

I would probably put the weakest two guys together at #3 but might occasionally put them with a stronger player but still have them play #3 either way. They need to win at #3 first before you move them to #2. Putting them with a stronger player should help them learn through experience but could frustrate the stronger player too if opponents hit mostly at the weaker player so rotate them with different partners if you choose not to play them together.

You need to get them in 4 matches so play them together twice and then put them with stronger partners at #3 the other few times. Let them play in 5-6 matches minimum as having fun and making friends at the 2.5-3.0 should be the rule and not just trying to win all of your meets.

Geezer Guy 09-13-2006 07:20 AM

I've not played in a "combo" league before, but aren't you required to keep the combinations at 5.5 or below? If you played two 3.0's together that would be a 6.0 team, which would be above the limit. Seems like you'd always have to mix the weaker players with the stronger ones.

Also, and I'm not trying to nit-pick, but I don't see how you can comply with not stacking if you don't play your best team at #1.

Based on what you said, if it was me I'd probably just come up with a schedule that included everyone the required matches, and mixed people around with different partners unless two people were adament about playing together. To avoid "stacking" and to avoid being too predictable so that your opponent can stack against you, I'd just randomly choose who plays on which court.

But, maybe I'm all wet.

10ispro 09-13-2006 09:49 AM

while in reality NTRP ratings seldom truly reflect the actual level of the player--in theory everyone rated a "XY" rating should be equal.
when you do lineups for USTA mixed leagues or Combo league, so long as the combination of 2 players equals the number of the final total-it isnt stacking.

So for example, say you have a bunch of great 3.0s and a handful of really good 2.5s, who should probally get bumped to 3.0 but anyways they are 2.5. then you have some weaker 2.5s
a 3.0 and 2.5 equals 5.5--that is all that matters.
Deliberate stacking would be putting 2 2.5s on the court as a 5.0 combination against a 5.5 team and the have actual 5.5 teams playing lower positions.

cak 09-13-2006 02:47 PM

Well, if you were trying to win at all costs, you bench the weak players.

If you are trying to play them, but hope to win around them you put them together as a 5.0 combo. Then you only have a downside of four total games. If you don't want to stack, and you are sure anyone in the league will beat them, put them against the toughest team, as you would have a high probability of losing that one anyway, and will be ensured to win against the easier teams. (Note, if you put them together there will only be 32 opportunities for your 3.0s to play, versus 40 for your 2.5s. So if you have an equal number of 3.0s and 2.5s, the 3.0s will get less games, as you can't put two 3.0s together to offset the two 2.5s together.)

If you want them to feel like valued members of the team you pair them with 3.0s they get along with well and who will be nice to them. (Which may not be your best 3.0s...) Since you admit your team is probably 2nd out of 4, your chances of beating a team you play 3 times is pretty slim. So why not make it a successful season for everyone on the team. Put them with 3.0s at third position against the weakest teams, as see how it goes. If you have two strong 5.5 combos ahead of them you may surprise yourself and do well anyway. My first season of playing I was captain of the 5.5 combo team. I was going for the "everyone plays and this will be fun" theory of team management. We ended up at Sectionals anyway.

Bagumbawalla 09-13-2006 07:14 PM

If you put a strong player together with a weak player, the opponents will (should) hit to the weaker one. Basically, you are only as strong as the weaker player.

If 1 is weakest and 6 is strongest, try--

6+4= your number one team.

5+3= your number two team.

2=1= your number three team.

This will give you an overall blending of strengths/weakness in the top two positions.

Also consider, simply putting your two top players together, the middle two together, and the lowest two together-- This may give you the best arrangement to win two of the three sets.

There is no point to having the least good players play out of the bottom position.

Also, consider setting up practice sessions where your better players help the weaker players improve their game.

Cindysphinx 09-14-2006 03:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Geezer Guy
I've not played in a "combo" league before, but aren't you required to keep the combinations at 5.5 or below? If you played two 3.0's together that would be a 6.0 team, which would be above the limit. Seems like you'd always have to mix the weaker players with the stronger ones.

Also, and I'm not trying to nit-pick, but I don't see how you can comply with not stacking if you don't play your best team at #1.

Based on what you said, if it was me I'd probably just come up with a schedule that included everyone the required matches, and mixed people around with different partners unless two people were adament about playing together. To avoid "stacking" and to avoid being too predictable so that your opponent can stack against you, I'd just randomly choose who plays on which court.

But, maybe I'm all wet.


Thanks, everyone!

Geezerguy, the two players I'm talking about are my weaker 2.5 players.

I guess I can put the two weaker 2.5s on court 3 against the weakest teams in the divisions. And maybe I can play each of them once with a weaker 3.0 player on court 3. Maybe they'll surprise me . . .

kevhen 09-14-2006 06:14 AM

My 4.0 USTA team was winless this spring going into our last meet and I ended up playing a couple of 3.5 guys at #3 doubles and assumed we would lose that but still win the meet against the other bottom team in the league. We ended up winning 5-0 and it was a big rush that everyone won although all matches were close and the other team enjoyed competing with us despite their loss. We moved up to 6th place in the league only because we won 5-0!

I still don't know how that 3.5 team knocked off a team with a decent 4.0 player on it but then one of them hits with extreme power and the other hits rather slowly but is very steady so their variety might have thrown off the opponent.

http://national.usta.com/leagues/Rep...atchID=1734949

Geezer Guy 09-14-2006 06:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cindysphinx
Thanks, everyone!

Geezerguy, the two players I'm talking about are my weaker 2.5 players.

I guess I can put the two weaker 2.5s on court 3 against the weakest teams in the divisions. And maybe I can play each of them once with a weaker 3.0 player on court 3. Maybe they'll surprise me . . .

My only comment is that in my years of league play it's been my observation that most captains RARELY put their worst team on court 3 and their best team on court 1. If you put your worst team on court 3 hoping they'll face your opponents worst team, it probably won't happen.

kevhen 09-14-2006 06:41 AM

But if you put your worst team on court 3 and your opponent doesn't do the same then your court 1 and court 2 players should have an easier time with their matches.

cak 09-14-2006 07:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Geezer Guy
My only comment is that in my years of league play it's been my observation that most captains RARELY put their worst team on court 3 and their best team on court 1. If you put your worst team on court 3 hoping they'll face your opponents worst team, it probably won't happen.

My experience captaining low level (2.5, 3.0, 3.5) women is that usually they get extremely mad at you if they think you are sacrificing them to get a win, especially if you don't warn them first. If you put them on court 3 they might end up playing the first or second team, but it won't be your fault. I've also found that sometimes it doesn't matter what court you put ladies on, they will be absolutely sure they got the best players from the other team.

Just remember, this is 5.5 combo. I'd go for playing real 5.5 combos and seeing if they can eek out a win on their own merits. I wouldn't put the best 3.0s with them, unless that is their best friend, because a team is only as good as it's weakest player. But I'd put players with them that can encourage them, and make it a positive experience even if they don't win. If your team agreed on the 4 games per player minimum they aren't going for Sectionals, and they aren't going to be expecting you to romp through the league.

I gotta say, when I was sitting there at Sectionals and they would call out our names followed by 5.5 combo I was just embarrassed. My personal opinion is anything beyond local playoffs for these rated leagues is pretty silly, I mean who am I going to impress saying I'm the 2.5 or even 3.5 National champions. No one outside of tennis even knows what that means. And most inside tennis know it means you are the best mediocre tennis team in the Nation, good for you. All the "free" t-shirts and glory of, well, in NorCal it was a weekend in Fresno, is not worth discouraging new players. They will get better, and you may need them someday.

kevhen 09-14-2006 07:32 AM

Quote:

I've also found that sometimes it doesn't matter what court you put ladies on, they will be absolutely sure they got the best players from the other team.
Good one!


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