Originally Posted by dizzlmcwizzl
Our team, and me personally, have gone to and played well at sectionals for the last three years. I believe I am among those at the top of the 4.0 band and my results have shown that.
My experiences support what jmverdugo says here. I have clobbered lower tier 4.0s in our league and they have complained that I should be up. However, against top computer rated 4.0's in our league, at districts and sectionals I am merely one of the better players ... clearly not dominant. I have never complained when a player with an established computer rating, as defined by the USTA, has beaten me ... and it has happened plenty.
Every year at sectionals almost every match featuring computer rated players is competitive. However, what irritates the snot out of me is that the non-competitive matches almost always involve a self rated player crushing a computer rated player. Furthermore, the teams that have advanced every year come with at least a few of these self rated difference makers.
What this tells me is that the USTA algorithm does a pretty nice job of putting players where they need to be ... but the players not vetted by the USTA throw the balance of power to captains that know how to game this system.
I agree with you, having had almost the exact same experience at 3.5 (mostly Senior play) over the past 4 years. Perhaps I am even closer to the dividing line -- I got "early started" to 4.0 two years ago, but stunk at Sectionals (not vs. sandbaggers; I choked) so my final rating was 3.5.
There are just not enough levels and so I find playing up at 4.0 on Court 3 is usually more competitive (and, for me at least, much more fun) than my Court 1 matches against bad 3.5 teams.
I have seen some self-rated sandbaggers get DQ'd this year so by and large the system works. Now we'll see if my final computer rating stays at 4.0 since I did not stink at Sectionals this year