Originally Posted by duffman
Excellent post. In our local league there is 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5, & 5.0. The majority of the players are in the 3.0-4.0 range and this is where the widest range of ability is as well. There were only three 4.5 teams and two 5.0 teams locally and these were very close in skill level. In fact, the top two singles players in the 5.0 both had 4.5 ratings. The USTA should look into getting rid of anything below 3.0 and making everything above 5.0 into "open" and then adding in .25 increments.
Its also funny that you mentioned that winning over 70% of your matches should get you bumped. Last year, as a computer rated 3.0 from my first season of tennis and USTA in 2005 I went 6-2 (75%) at 4.0 and 4-2 (67 %)at 4.5 and got moved to 4.0. This year I went 9-0 at 4.0 and won over 70% of my games at 4.0 and didn't get moved to 4.5 at the ESR.
You also mentioned competing against some mystery number instead of the guy across the net. I am in total agreement with this. Instead of just worrying about beating the other guy and competing the best I can, I have this number in the back of my head on what the score should be based on his record and his past performance if I want to become a 4.5. When something happens and this number is exceeded in the match its like the panic button is pressed and all of a sudden a 3 set win feels like a loss which is just wrong. I know your rating in the end is just a number and doesn't equate to your actual ability but it is still a measuring stick to base your improvement on and the way the system is now just doesn't make much sense.
Textbook example of why games aren't a good metric. There are LOTS of guys out there who've mastered tennis at their particular level, with no real interest in improving their games. And why should they? They get to pull a Shaquille O'neal and play possum during the regular season, taking a close loss here, scraping out a close win there, all in an effort to protect their *adj ratings.
Why *adj? Most likely because they won a lot at that same level last year, both locally and in the playoffs. Now they get to do it all over again this year. Same faces, over and over and over. Which is what you see in USTA play. You can practically see the thought bubbles over their heads: "please, please take this game. I'm trying to avoid strikes. Yeah, I know I hit a ridiculous diving backhand winner 10 minutes ago, but that frame shot into the next court? Nevermind that."
Now, by going to winning percentage, that all changes. Sure, people can manage percentages during the regular season, but if they want to make the playoffs, they need to bring it for real. And - if you make the playoffs - you're bumped.
This scenario would of course feature teams trying to out-tank each other to avoid the playoffs this year in the hopes of a favorable draw at their level next year, but there's only so much they can do, as there's going to be an influx of players from the next higher level being bumped down because they can't win there, but probably can here.
If you're a diehard 4.5 style player, but you can't win at 3.5, then you're demoted all the way down to 2.5 if need be, until you figure out how to win. If you're the unbeatable amateur grinder at 3.0/3.5, you get promoted to 4.0/4.5 and forced to learn some new tricks.
In my own experience, I'm seeing guys with winning percentages above 80%, on teams that finished in the top 4 of around 20, who aren't getting ESR bumps. Why? Probably because they get killed by teams built for sectional/districts/etc., who are beating guys otherwise dominating their level 6-1, 6-2.