Are sandbaggers really just the best players at level?

#1
Anyone here friends with someone who’s gone 12-3 “at level”? What’s their personality outside of tennis? I taught a lesson to a woman clearly in my mind a 4.0 and she was all excited about a 3.5 nationals trip. It just seems crazy to me. Is it that enjoyable? I guess I am just curious as to the mental and psychological process of these players. Some of these NTRP tournaments as well I see gals and guys cruising through in straight sets. Do they fear a challenge or even a loss on their record?


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#2
First tournament I ever went too I went up against a guy in the 3.0 final who admitted he’d been training for a whole year in anticipation of the tournament. Told me he hides in league play so his ranking doesnt go up. In fact, his entire group does the same thing. They all then enter the same tournament every year and sandbag down.

Makes no sense to me at all. I dont think they even care how many people they chase out of the sport. The true 3.0’s and 3.5’s dont have anywhere to play.

What I cant figure out is how the USTA and tourney directors dont care to address the problem. One look at nationals and just about every player in the 3.0/3.5 divisions doesnt fit the NTRP definition of their ranking. Each and every participant that is clearly sandbagging should get DQ’d.

The USTA has let it go on so long that the damage is already done.
 
#3
2nd tourney I went too I was scoping out the 3.5 division. Everyone there was clearly a 3.5 except one guy. Turns out he was a 4.0 that petitioned down to 3.5

In two years of play I dont think he finished worse than 2nd in a tourney. So statistically he shoulda been bumped back up. But even worse, one look at his actual play and you could tell he didnt belong in 3.5

I requested to the tourney director that next year I be allowed to compete at the 4.0 level so at least I was getting what I paid for but the TD denied my request.

Total BS. Either manually move up the sandbaggers or let me play in a division I actually signed up for. If I sign up for 3.5’s, I wanna play real 3.5’s.

The TD’s do this sport no favors in how they deal with this matter.
 
#4
To answer your original question, no, they’re not the best at “the level” when most of them have been playing for years & years.

If they have near flawless records, chances are they dont fit the NTRP definition of their ranking. From what I’ve seen.
 
#5
A post near and dear to my heart, I've mentioned this before, but...
No, they often are not, not at 3.5 and 4.0. At 4.5 they are, no one is doing this nonsense mentioned below at 4.5, at 4.5 they probably had success enough to play in college division 2 or 3 and rec tennis isn't that big of a deal.

A larger group of 4.5 players in Dallas once went 2 and some of them 3 seasons losing on purpose, losing every match, to get bumped down to 4.0. Then they won almost every match at 4.0 to try and get to nationals, it didn't work. Although, frankly, the Caribbean and sometimes other teams are at nationals that can require this kind of manipulation to have a chance at winning. Furthermore, Houston once put together an all-star team at 4.0 (they took the best players from all over the city and put them on one team to win regionals/Texas) and to beat that you had to do something, but it all boils down to why? Most in this Dallas group had families and kids, I mean, isn't free time away from the wife and kids limited on a weekend? I wouldn't spend it playing a tennis match I lose on purpose, it's just makes no sense to me.

I've known some people returning to tennis from a break self rate at 3.5 and go to a nationals event, but I agree, is it fun? If you've played tennis off and on since childhood, 3.5 should be embarrassing for you to play. 3.5 should be reserved for older players or those new to tennis in my opinion. Those 3.5s wouldn't mention their level, mostly just casually mention they went to nationals or couldn't play next week because they made it to nationals lol.

USTA cares somewhat, but what can they do, they get your money anyway. I've seen some teams video tape players and submit it, to prove they are out of level, and that works, but it's just getting silly at that point.

Here is a funny video about leagues in Dallas...
 
#6
USTA cares somewhat, but what can they do, they get your money anyway. I've seen some teams video tape players and submit it, to prove they are out of level, and that works, but it's just getting silly at that point.
Does the USTA really care? I dont believe so.

Yes, they get our money. But they completely disregard all the money they lose from the would-be 3.0 & 3.5’s that just bailed.

I think if they had any business sense they’d ban sandbaggers that showed up at nationals. Make a few examples of them. Sure, they’d lose a customer or two. But it’s addition by subtraction. Each sandbagger probably chases away 100+ would be tennis players over time.

When I contacted the USTA to complain about my experience, the rep was more interested in how I made it to a tourney final after only play a couple months. He then offered me a spot on his personal team. THIS WAS A USTA REP!!! I was calling to report a sandbagger and his response was to ENCOURAGE me to sandbag for him!

I reported him to the national office. They did NOTHING about the matter.
 
#7
2nd tourney I went too I was scoping out the 3.5 division. Everyone there was clearly a 3.5 except one guy. Turns out he was a 4.0 that petitioned down to 3.5

In two years of play I dont think he finished worse than 2nd in a tourney. So statistically he shoulda been bumped back up. But even worse, one look at his actual play and you could tell he didnt belong in 3.5

I requested to the tourney director that next year I be allowed to compete at the 4.0 level so at least I was getting what I paid for but the TD denied my request.

Total BS. Either manually move up the sandbaggers or let me play in a division I actually signed up for. If I sign up for 3.5’s, I wanna play real 3.5’s.

The TD’s do this sport no favors in how they deal with this matter.
Aren’t you the one claiming in another thread you’d beat the 4.0 and 4.5 that are on video? But you want to play a 3.5 tournament?

So just to clarify, sandbagging is outrageous, ridiculous, total BS, and no one should do it... except for you?
 
#8
Aren’t you the one claiming in another thread you’d beat the 4.0 and 4.5 that are on video? But you want to play a 3.5 tournament?

So just to clarify, sandbagging is outrageous, ridiculous, total BS, and no one should do it... except for you?
What’s a tournament 2 years ago have to do with how Im playing currently?
 
#9
A post near and dear to my heart, I've mentioned this before, but...
No, they often are not, not at 3.5 and 4.0. At 4.5 they are, no one is doing this nonsense mentioned below at 4.5, at 4.5 they probably had success enough to play in college division 2 or 3 and rec tennis isn't that big of a deal.

A larger group of 4.5 players in Dallas once went 2 and some of them 3 seasons losing on purpose, losing every match, to get bumped down to 4.0. Then they won almost every match at 4.0 to try and get to nationals, it didn't work. Although, frankly, the Caribbean and sometimes other teams are at nationals that can require this kind of manipulation to have a chance at winning. Furthermore, Houston once put together an all-star team at 4.0 (they took the best players from all over the city and put them on one team to win regionals/Texas) and to beat that you had to do something, but it all boils down to why? Most in this Dallas group had families and kids, I mean, isn't free time away from the wife and kids limited on a weekend? I wouldn't spend it playing a tennis match I lose on purpose, it's just makes no sense to me.

I've known some people returning to tennis from a break self rate at 3.5 and go to a nationals event, but I agree, is it fun? If you've played tennis off and on since childhood, 3.5 should be embarrassing for you to play. 3.5 should be reserved for older players or those new to tennis in my opinion. Those 3.5s wouldn't mention their level, mostly just casually mention they went to nationals or couldn't play next week because they made it to nationals lol.

USTA cares somewhat, but what can they do, they get your money anyway. I've seen some teams video tape players and submit it, to prove they are out of level, and that works, but it's just getting silly at that point.

Here is a funny video about leagues in Dallas...
This is what I mean. What goes through these men’s heads as they say “Honey, I’ll be out for few hours [losing on purpose] for my match. I’m not into USTA leagues so maybe I’m not a good judge of character. But is Nationals like Spring Break or something with girls and booze? What goes on at Nationals that would make someone in their right mind play boring tennis for a whole season with people they easily beat, or as you mentioned lose on purpose a whole season to get bumped down, so the following year they could make a run for Nationals?


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#11
@5sets - easy: some people value winning above all else so they see any Machiavellian machinations as simply the [justified] means to an end. I agree with you that I can't see how that would be any fun let alone fulfilling and worth my time but obviously some people do. I'm sure they don't understand people like me who wouldn't go to such lengths.
 
#12
@5sets - easy: some people value winning above all else so they see any Machiavellian machinations as simply the [justified] means to an end. I agree with you that I can't see how that would be any fun let alone fulfilling and worth my time but obviously some people do. I'm sure they don't understand people like me who wouldn't go to such lengths.
It’s not really winning though is it? I mean you are winning at 3.5. But you know you can be competitive at 4.0. So what’s the point? Has anyone here been to Nationals? What is it like? They give you free food and rooms or what? And I’m not just talking about League, but tourneys too. I like to play age division tourneys, you know, everyone 35 and over, so you could get a 4.0 or a 5.0. But you know you are competing with everyone. But ntrp does it feel that good to win at a lower level?


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#13
No...

I don't live in the states where they use a rating system but:
1) the rating system is just a guideline. The numbers do not directly effect your performance at all, just a general level to describe a players tennis ability
2)Sandbagging refers to a player that deliberately misrepresents their ability. For reasons as an advantage

Your title literally answers your own question.

If Usain bolt goes to a University 100m sprint event with facepaint, glasses and different clothing to disguise who he is, then smokes everyone during the race is he really just the best athlete at their level?
 

Enga

Professional
#14
The problem is the idea of a "competitive league for beginners" in the first place. The idea that a beginner can be competitive is a strange idea, and its one thats bound to be abused. Remove all divisions and no beginner would ever complain, nor would any intermediate player ever win. We create these divisions so even the most mediocre players can enjoy the taste of victory. But it gets abused by people who think being the best of the mediocre is better than being the average of the average.

Its simple. Remove all divisions. Create one giant open league. The more you lose during a season, the farther down the ladder you go. You develop a ranking which in the future is used as a seeding to help determine league opponents.

If people dont like it because they start off with losses before they get matched up with people their own skill level, or they win too many easy matches before the system decides to give them a better opponent, thats how it should be. There are plenty of ways to play tennis and enjoy it without having to play for the plastic trophy of the lower divisions. Once rankings are established, it should be rare for someone to sandbag.
 
#16
Sandbaggers are scum and not the best players at their level. I seen some really extreme levels of sandbagging with young fit ex-college players playing 4.0 and throwing games to keep their ranking for playoffs. 2 guys in particular would have been at the top of 4.5 level and they were playing 4.0.
 
#17
Sandbaggers are scum and not the best players at their level. I seen some really extreme levels of sandbagging with young fit ex-college players playing 4.0 and throwing games to keep their ranking for playoffs. 2 guys in particular would have been at the top of 4.5 level and they were playing 4.0.
The ex-college thing triggered a memory from a couple years ago, I was playing in a tri-level event state finals and our opponent showed up wearing his college gear, he was a current division 2 player lol, and he showed up like that playing the 4.0 element! It's funny because one of my teammates playing on an adjacent court is kind of a quiet guy but could get vocal if he felt something wasn't right and he berated the kid asking him what in the hell are you doing here playing with old men when you are still in college? We got a few games off of him and his partner, but he was definitely the best player out there. But, seriously, to wear the warmup suit lol, wow! He wasn't playing with his father or anything, just messing around on the weekends playing old farts. I would have laughed if someone asked me to play in a low level usta event while I was in college.
 
#18
The problem is the idea of a "competitive league for beginners" in the first place. The idea that a beginner can be competitive is a strange idea, and its one thats bound to be abused. Remove all divisions and no beginner would ever complain, nor would any intermediate player ever win. We create these divisions so even the most mediocre players can enjoy the taste of victory. But it gets abused by people who think being the best of the mediocre is better than being the average of the average.

Its simple. Remove all divisions. Create one giant open league. The more you lose during a season, the farther down the ladder you go. You develop a ranking which in the future is used as a seeding to help determine league opponents.

If people dont like it because they start off with losses before they get matched up with people their own skill level, or they win too many easy matches before the system decides to give them a better opponent, thats how it should be. There are plenty of ways to play tennis and enjoy it without having to play for the plastic trophy of the lower divisions. Once rankings are established, it should be rare for someone to sandbag.
So create rankings for people so you can pair them up against like ranked players...I feel like this has happened somewhere before ??????
 
#19
ok, everyone keep your britches on.

When someone is coming up from a beginner and playing the way the NTRP system is designed, they will go from not winning at all, then improving and winning some, then improving and winning a lot and then they get bumped and the process repeats itself at the next level.

Isn't that precisely what you want to have happen?

I can tell you that having that one year where the computer missed you and didn't bump you up and you then play that next year at your C level and dominate is both a little fun and a little boring. In my case that year I played and dominated, got bored and then started playing with the lowest possible partner on line 1 just to see if we could still win ... and normally we could.
At the end of the year the computer found me and got bumped. My first year at the new level was a little challenging and it was tough to see my record at .500 or below instead of at .900.

Having that one year of being dominant at level is great for one's confidence level and if done correctly and the player works on continued improvement is fantastic for that player's overall development.

If a player has a C rating with some very rare exceptions they are no sandbagger. Particularly if they are a woman.

(to listen to this board those exceptions include if they are from Texas)
 
#20
The problem is the idea of a "competitive league for beginners" in the first place. The idea that a beginner can be competitive is a strange idea, and its one thats bound to be abused. Remove all divisions and no beginner would ever complain, nor would any intermediate player ever win. We create these divisions so even the most mediocre players can enjoy the taste of victory. But it gets abused by people who think being the best of the mediocre is better than being the average of the average.

Its simple. Remove all divisions. Create one giant open league. The more you lose during a season, the farther down the ladder you go. You develop a ranking which in the future is used as a seeding to help determine league opponents.

If people dont like it because they start off with losses before they get matched up with people their own skill level, or they win too many easy matches before the system decides to give them a better opponent, thats how it should be. There are plenty of ways to play tennis and enjoy it without having to play for the plastic trophy of the lower divisions. Once rankings are established, it should be rare for someone to sandbag.
Excellent post.

This is very similar to how amateur events are done in France (im told). And it develops takent better.

It’s also how UTR is trying to operate.

And it incentivizes not sandbagging. Higher your rank, better chance at a bye and not getting knocked out early by someone worse than you.
 

Enga

Professional
#21
The low level can be structured similarly to top level without impeding fun.

Everyone knows that #100 in the world has no chance against #1 in the world. It's a given. No one complains when #100 loses to #1.

Problem is some people need a goal to work towards or else they don't feel motivated, so they wouldn't enjoy a league where there's no finals and instead the only tracking is the ranking. Well then, ditch the division final stuff, and hold regional tournaments instead with rankings (based on regular league matches) determining seeding order. That to me sounds way more fun. Not only that it can be a way to bridge the gap between players nearing the pros, and low level recreational players, a place where both can meet. Remove the expectations and people could be pleasantly surprised by how fun it can be to play someone of a higher level. They will learn much faster by experiencing this tennis.

Then theres the issue of team based formats, which I think USTA has. Team based formats strongly encourage sandbagging in order to produce better results, because it is easy to sneak in an experienced player among a team of new players. I think team based formats have no need for divisions whatsoever. Teams should simply be put together based on who you want to play with- friends or the best possible players to make the best team environment possible.
 
#23
No sandbaggers are those people that lose a few games here and there on purpose to keep their ranking down.
Right, I assume you mean rating, not ranking. Literally we know what they are,I want to know what their motivation is? Like mentioned earlier about the college player showing up to a 4.0 League match in his school warm ups? What does he get out of being on court with 40 and 50 year old men for 2 hours? I was playing an Open tourney last summer and asked a college kid why he was playing 4.5 and he replied he wanted to get more matches in. Is that a legitimate reason? USTA tourneys are kind of pricey if you are getting knocked out first round. Anyways he was bumped to 5.0 the following year.


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#24
The problem with everything below Open is that we are applying a discrete variable (NTRP .5 ratings) to what is truly a continuous variable (Tennis skill). So unless you are at the upper margin of the rating scale you have little hope of winning tournaments. The winners will always be the guys that are almost ready to be bumped up or those that have fallen down from a higher level. If you don't fit that description, good luck.

Anything that is not an age related tournament or open tournament is all artifice. Its luck of where the ratings fall in relation to your skill. I enter tournaments for the Shirt and the Reception Meal and to get to play some tennis against stiff competition. The plastic trophy says nothing more than that you were lucky enough to be either near the top of your level or near the bottom of the level above.

This is why I prefer UTR since it offers more discrete variables to the equation. There will still be the odd sandbagger but its harder when there are more data points to consider.
 
#25
The problem with everything below Open is that we are applying a discrete variable (NTRP .5 ratings) to what is truly a continuous variable (Tennis skill). So unless you are at the upper margin of the rating scale you have little hope of winning tournaments. The winners will always be the guys that are almost ready to be bumped up or those that have fallen down from a higher level. If you don't fit that description, good luck.

Anything that is not an age related tournament or open tournament is all artifice. Its luck of where the ratings fall in relation to your skill. I enter tournaments for the Shirt and the Reception Meal and to get to play some tennis against stiff competition. The plastic trophy says nothing more than that you were lucky enough to be either near the top of your level or near the bottom of the level above.

This is why I prefer UTR since it offers more discrete variables to the equation. There will still be the odd sandbagger but its harder when there are more data points to consider.
Excellent, excellent post. This is the best and most informative reply I’ve seen on the subject. Relating to the my title, so actually one man’s sandbagger is another one’s top at level player. Since our dynamic ratings are constantly changing, their our players at the top of level who people label as sandbaggers who are in fact not.

I’m loving UTR myself. It rewards good, solid play. The goal is to improve your rating.


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#27
A sandbaggers perspective: So I have never purposefully dropped games or lost matches so I cannot answer to that, but I very much prefer being among the best at a lower level than mediocre at a higher level, so the way it has worked for me is that when I am a 5.0 I lack motivation and that shows up in the on court product and then I lose and eventually get rated down. Then when I am a 4.5 I am motivated to win and advance in the playoffs and do very well and then I get rated up. So, I think it is fairly clear when I am decently motivated I am at least a low level 5.0 but I get rated down because I feel like I am not good enough to compete at the highest levels of 5.0. This is a bit self defeating, I have never really committed to competing at the 5.0 level so I dont really know where I fit in (I am in the current process of doing that now and it has its ups and downs). I just wanted to share my perspective as someone who has been accused of being a sandbagger frequently and at times feeling like one, but again I want to reiterate that I have never lost on purpose to get down a level, but maybe that doesnt really make a difference.
 
#28
I know a few 4.5 players that played and went to 7.0 mixed nationals. They lost.

I also know players, some of them the same as those mentioned above, that throw matches at State so they won't get bumped. Then whenever they are playing a match that they want to win, and they end up losing, they ******** complain hung their heads low.

I had to play a doubles match at State a few years ago and it was against people almost double our age. On the crossover, we had learned that one of them had just had open heart surgery. I saw my partner hit shots and slap them into the net. I went up to him and said, "Hey what are you doing?"
He said, "come on man.......I'm not trying to win this match.....I don't want to get bumped up."

For that reason among others I will not play USTA League until I move to a different city where people are more serious and people are not afraid of getting their ass whipped playing at the current level that they're supposed to play at.
 
#29
Anyone here friends with someone who’s gone 12-3 “at level”?
If the bar is, do you know someone who's won 80% of their matches, then yes. Looking through Tennisrecord and removing the matches where I'm playing up, I win around 85% of my at-level matches over the past couple years.

Do they fear a challenge or even a loss on their record?
Well, let's take a step back. If you're someone who is rated at the top of your level then it's quite possible you're going to be favored in every match you play. If you play doubles, and your partner(s) is/are strong that likelihood increases even more.

I went back to the report that @schmke generated for me toward the end of last year. I went 16-2 in matches I was favored and 2-3 in matches where I was the underdog. My average opponent rating is essentially 0.2 lower than me. I *should* be winning at this rate against the people I face. I think the difference for me is the ability to close out important points. My games won-lost was 257-191, which roughly is a 6:4.5 rate. Those are close matches.

I think often people get wrapped up in the win vs loss when discussing NTRP, and that's where a lot of the confusion sets in. There's quite a range between someone at the top and bottom of any NTRP level.

Something else I found interesting is that my dynamic rating is measurably better against "up-level" rated players. The sample size is small, but it's around 0.17. There's the distinct possibility that my style of play translates reasonably well, but I suspect it's also about motivation. It's not fun for me to crush someone, so I don't keep the intensity up when the match is not competitive. Out of about my last 100 matches, I've got no 0-0 wins and just two 0-1 wins. Both of the matches were against players who were "down-level" playing up. The NTRP system views this unfavorably though, and so I've gotten lost some dynamic points where we routed the opponents... just not as thoroughly as the system hoped.

Edit: Full disclosure - I'm sure I could get bumped up to the next level, if I focused on punishing weaker opponents, and skipped any singles where I'm simply not as strong (and maybe even tried to develop a useful backhand?). Locally though there probably won't be a league if I get bumped up. They had one with only 2 teams last year, and I'm skeptical that it will return. As it is today, I still get some competitive matches, and I'm playing with a group of people I enjoy being around. And that's what I'm looking for: a little fun and some exercise.
 
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#30
I'm actually sitting at 12-3 in league play for this rating year. I think the record is a bit slanted though, because teams have stacked against us a bunch, so even though I play almost nothing but D1, I'm playing a lot of lower level 4.0's who should be playing D3.

I have never tanked a match or really done anything during play to intentionally lower my rating. That's just not in my nature. I was bumped to 4.5 last year after having only played four USTA matches, ever. I appealed and stayed down so I could get a full year in at 4.0 and play an advancing season with my team. When I get bumped to 4.5 next year, I will go play there and try my hardest like I always do.
 
#31
Excellent, excellent post. This is the best and most informative reply I’ve seen on the subject. Relating to the my title, so actually one man’s sandbagger is another one’s top at level player. Since our dynamic ratings are constantly changing, their our players at the top of level who people label as sandbaggers who are in fact not.

I’m loving UTR myself. It rewards good, solid play. The goal is to improve your rating.


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The sandbagging Ive seen werent players just at the top of their rating. It was blatant & deliberate manipulation of the system.
 
#32
I wasn't on it, but my team came across that infamous Houston team in sectionals that year. I agree that stuff like that is laughable and a clear abuse of the system. The problem is when people toss everyone at the top of a given level into that category.
 
#33
A sandbaggers perspective: So I have never purposefully dropped games or lost matches so I cannot answer to that, but I very much prefer being among the best at a lower level than mediocre at a higher level, so the way it has worked for me is that when I am a 5.0 I lack motivation and that shows up in the on court product and then I lose and eventually get rated down. Then when I am a 4.5 I am motivated to win and advance in the playoffs and do very well and then I get rated up. So, I think it is fairly clear when I am decently motivated I am at least a low level 5.0 but I get rated down because I feel like I am not good enough to compete at the highest levels of 5.0. This is a bit self defeating, I have never really committed to competing at the 5.0 level so I dont really know where I fit in (I am in the current process of doing that now and it has its ups and downs). I just wanted to share my perspective as someone who has been accused of being a sandbagger frequently and at times feeling like one, but again I want to reiterate that I have never lost on purpose to get down a level, but maybe that doesnt really make a difference.
Thank you for the honesty and courage to step up in the discussion. Can you elaborate on why you prefer being the best rather than mediocre at a higher level? I see what you wrote, you don’t want to leave friends on the team, etc. But there’s no cash reward or anything for winning. Obviously you’re very solid but wouldn’t you rather fight hard and lose 3 and 3 to someone better, than win most of the time? I dunno, I guess I just want to compete at the highest level I can, even if I have to stomach some Ls.


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#34
I'm actually sitting at 12-3 in league play for this rating year. I think the record is a bit slanted though, because teams have stacked against us a bunch, so even though I play almost nothing but D1, I'm playing a lot of lower level 4.0's who should be playing D3.

I have never tanked a match or really done anything during play to intentionally lower my rating. That's just not in my nature. I was bumped to 4.5 last year after having only played four USTA matches, ever. I appealed and stayed down so I could get a full year in at 4.0 and play an advancing season with my team. When I get bumped to 4.5 next year, I will go play there and try my hardest like I always do.
I’m not here to judge, I just want to get inside your head. I think appealing down for any other reason besides injury is what we are discussing. The computer said you were ready to play 4.5 yet you disagreed. Please don’t misinterpret my questions for sarcasm but why? Surely other of your friends were bumped up to 4.5 as well and you can form a new team?


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#35
Thank you for the honesty and courage to step up in the discussion. Can you elaborate on why you prefer being the best rather than mediocre at a higher level? I see what you wrote, you don’t want to leave friends on the team, etc. But there’s no cash reward or anything for winning. Obviously you’re very solid but wouldn’t you rather fight hard and lose 3 and 3 to someone better, than win most of the time? I dunno, I guess I just want to compete at the highest level I can, even if I have to stomach some Ls.
Not exactly sure I can give you real insight into my mind in a post but sure I will try. I joined my fathers 4.5 team in 2002 and we played in the sectionals and we came close to winning and it was fun and gave me an adult thing to talk to my father about, who was very focused on winning the 4.5 league. The next year we made it to nationals and while we did not do very well while there it was a great time. For as long as I can remember we have talked about trying to win a USTA team title and how we might do that. Once my brother was old enough to play he joined our team as well and we tried to win a title. Trying to win that title has been a goal of mine for many years. I get that there is no money in it (in fact I have paid a significant amount of money to chase that title), but I wanted to be the best at a certain level on a good team. Why not just try to be the best player I can and play the best competition? I play a fair amount of open tournaments and competed with D1 players and do ok, but in USTA league I was trying to win that title. Now that I won the championship last year, I am struggling with what my goal is in tennis because I am one of the better players in my area, but will never make the pros or anything so I am not sure what my goal is now but yes for me the goal had been trying to win a national championship. I understand that no one really cares about who wins a national championship in USTA in the greater scheme of things but it was really important to me.
 
#36
I’m not here to judge, I just want to get inside your head. I think appealing down for any other reason besides injury is what we are discussing. The computer said you were ready to play 4.5 yet you disagreed. Please don’t misinterpret my questions for sarcasm but why? Surely other of your friends were bumped up to 4.5 as well and you can form a new team?


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I had just joined USTA. I had no friends in USTA beyond the team I had just joined. No one else on my new team got bumped. I had no connections to anything 4.5 at that point. The computer said I was ready for 4.5 based on a 3-1 record; that's not a great data set. I wasn't sure if I was ready, but didn't think I was. The computer also said I was in the acceptable appeal range. I thought what we were talking about was people tanking matches to distort their level. I didn't do that; I clicked a button within the scope of the rules.

I'm in a different place now. I'm quite comfortable playing at the top of 4.0, and already have a 4.5 team lined up, and maybe even some tournament partners, for when I get bumped in December. At that point, as I mentioned above, I will go play 4.5.
 
#37
Interesting, usually if you stick to doubles you can "hide" away at a level, even if you advance to city. Usually winning singles is the guarantee bump up. Seems like you got unlucky with that 3-1 record. I swear though, the more info I get on bump ups the more illogical it seems.
 
#38
Interesting, usually if you stick to doubles you can "hide" away at a level, even if you advance to city.
I've heard this before, and I sort of hold the same opinion for our local singles - that they're at increased risk of being bumped. That said, there's a real cognitive dissonance going on here because everything I've heard about NTRP indicates that wouldn't matter.

I've come up with some uncompelling hypotheses such as the smaller pool of good singles players leads to inflated ratings on the guys who are actually strong. This is exacerbated by players that are reasonably good doubles players but very bad at singles causing overstated wins when they drift into singles.

Maybe it's a matter of perception though? Singles players are going to trend toward being more fit, and that might include people who are improving more.

Or maybe it's the style of play? I haven't ever looked at the numbers, but it wouldn't surprise me if singles matches tend to have larger margins of victory between players. (IE 4.2 singles vs 4.4 singles goes 6-2, 6-2; 4.0+4.4 doubles team vs 4.35+4.45 doubles goes 6-3,6-3). Does anyone know offhand is USTA league doubles matches altogether have a closer spread than singles? Normalizing that to ratings would be a bit more work.
 
#40
In doubles, the credit for the victory gets split between two players; the algorithm has no way of knowing which of the two players overperformed, so both get part of the ratings bump.

For example, if you and your partner are both rated 4.0, but you play at a 4.5 level for a match, the rating algorithm doesn’t know which partner did well and so you’ll both split the difference and get a 4.25 rating for the match.
 

schmke

Hall of Fame
#41
I've heard this before, and I sort of hold the same opinion for our local singles - that they're at increased risk of being bumped. That said, there's a real cognitive dissonance going on here because everything I've heard about NTRP indicates that wouldn't matter.
You are right, mathematically it doesn't matter.

I've come up with some uncompelling hypotheses such as the smaller pool of good singles players leads to inflated ratings on the guys who are actually strong. This is exacerbated by players that are reasonably good doubles players but very bad at singles causing overstated wins when they drift into singles.
I think this is part of it. It is often the case that the best players on a team play singles, in part because you can get two court wins from two players in singles while pairing them in doubles gives you only one court. This results in someone that plays singles all the time tending to play higher rated opponents than if they played doubles. So, should someone go 9-1 in singles, their rating will likely end up being higher than someone going 9-1 in doubles with the same scores simply because it was done against higher rated opponents.

But if you happen to play court 1 in doubles and opponents don't stack so you are usually playing stronger doubles pairs, and if you do so with a lower rated opponent, your rating can go up just as much if not more than the hypothetical singles player above.

In the end it simply depends on who you play against (and with) and the score. Singles just often has higher rated opponents than doubles so there is more opportunity to improve, but one still has to win and perhaps easily to realize the opportunity.
 
#42
Don't work about that backhand, gotta give us someplace to aim sometimes ;)


If the bar is, do you know someone who's won 80% of their matches, then yes. Looking through Tennisrecord and removing the matches where I'm playing up, I win around 85% of my at-level matches over the past couple years.


Well, let's take a step back. If you're someone who is rated at the top of your level then it's quite possible you're going to be favored in every match you play. If you play doubles, and your partner(s) is/are strong that likelihood increases even more.

I went back to the report that @schmke generated for me toward the end of last year. I went 16-2 in matches I was favored and 2-3 in matches where I was the underdog. My average opponent rating is essentially 0.2 lower than me. I *should* be winning at this rate against the people I face. I think the difference for me is the ability to close out important points. My games won-lost was 257-191, which roughly is a 6:4.5 rate. Those are close matches.

I think often people get wrapped up in the win vs loss when discussing NTRP, and that's where a lot of the confusion sets in. There's quite a range between someone at the top and bottom of any NTRP level.

Something else I found interesting is that my dynamic rating is measurably better against "up-level" rated players. The sample size is small, but it's around 0.17. There's the distinct possibility that my style of play translates reasonably well, but I suspect it's also about motivation. It's not fun for me to crush someone, so I don't keep the intensity up when the match is not competitive. Out of about my last 100 matches, I've got no 0-0 wins and just two 0-1 wins. Both of the matches were against players who were "down-level" playing up. The NTRP system views this unfavorably though, and so I've gotten lost some dynamic points where we routed the opponents... just not as thoroughly as the system hoped.

Edit: Full disclosure - I'm sure I could get bumped up to the next level, if I focused on punishing weaker opponents, and skipped any singles where I'm simply not as strong (and maybe even tried to develop a useful backhand?). Locally though there probably won't be a league if I get bumped up. They had one with only 2 teams last year, and I'm skeptical that it will return. As it is today, I still get some competitive matches, and I'm playing with a group of people I enjoy being around. And that's what I'm looking for: a little fun and some exercise.
 
#43
The problem is the idea of a "competitive league for beginners" in the first place. The idea that a beginner can be competitive is a strange idea, and its one thats bound to be abused. Remove all divisions and no beginner would ever complain, nor would any intermediate player ever win. We create these divisions so even the most mediocre players can enjoy the taste of victory. But it gets abused by people who think being the best of the mediocre is better than being the average of the average.

Its simple. Remove all divisions. Create one giant open league. The more you lose during a season, the farther down the ladder you go. You develop a ranking which in the future is used as a seeding to help determine league opponents.

If people dont like it because they start off with losses before they get matched up with people their own skill level, or they win too many easy matches before the system decides to give them a better opponent, thats how it should be. There are plenty of ways to play tennis and enjoy it without having to play for the plastic trophy of the lower divisions. Once rankings are established, it should be rare for someone to sandbag.
Interesting idea. It should practically eliminate sandbagging. Although sandbagging exists mostly within a team context.
Your proposal would not allow for team play.
 
#44
Heh. That's a TW idea if I've ever seen one.

"The solution to people sandbagging in leagues... is to get rid of leagues!"

That would be kind of pointless, since the people would just go to a different organization which would organize leagues if the USTA refuses to...
 

Enga

Professional
#46
Heh. That's a TW idea if I've ever seen one.

"The solution to people sandbagging in leagues... is to get rid of leagues!"

That would be kind of pointless, since the people would just go to a different organization which would organize leagues if the USTA refuses to...
The idea is to remove skill divisions (which are often testimonial based), and let results speak for themselves. It would still be a league... just not 8 different leagues. There are ways to organize leagues where winners face winners, and losers face losers, which helps to determine an accurate standing especially with a long season. The longer that wins/losses are tracked, the more accurate a player's ranking will become, and they will face players of their own skill level more often. Sandbagging would be eliminated because there would be no motivation to do so.

I get the idea that creating separate skill divisions should help players face their own skill level more often, but it promotes a disingenuous approach to the game. If players would be ranked based on wins and losses instead, then there would be no dishonesty involved. If you go against a player who happens to be highly skilled compared to yourself, it's probably the last time you will see him. An algorithm could be developed where completely dominated games will send a player much higher into the rankings and against players with better records.
 
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#47
I live in an area where leagues go up to 4.5, but there are no 5.0 local leagues. So tanking a few games here and there to avoid getting bumped to 5.0 is done to keep one involved in league tennis, at least at the local level.
 
#48
The idea is to remove skill divisions (which are often testimonial based), and let results speak for themselves. It would still be a league... just not 8 different leagues. There are ways to organize leagues where winners face winners, and losers face losers, which helps to determine an accurate standing especially with a long season. The longer that wins/losses are tracked, the more accurate a player's ranking will become, and they will face players of their own skill level more often. Sandbagging would be eliminated because there would be no motivation to do so.

I get the idea that creating separate skill divisions should help players face their own skill level more often, but it promotes a disingenuous approach to the game. If players would be ranked based on wins and losses instead, then there would be no dishonesty involved. If you go against a player who happens to be highly skilled compared to yourself, it's probably the last time you will see him. An algorithm could be developed where completely dominated games will send a player much higher into the rankings and against players with better records.
That's fine for a ladder type deal*, but I don't see how you organize team leagues without divisions. Also not sure how tournaments would work, unless you just put every player in the same giant draw, which I don't think is any better for the tournament player complaining about sandbaggers in his division. He ain't gonna win an open bracket with even higher rated players in it either.

*If someone prefers a ladder type deal, they can just join a ladder.
 
#49
I live in an area where leagues go up to 4.5, but there are no 5.0 local leagues. So tanking a few games here and there to avoid getting bumped to 5.0 is done to keep one involved in league tennis, at least at the local level.
I would really like to give you a hall pass because I’m aware 5.0 Leagues are scarce. The problem with doing this is it creates a domino effect down the rating line where the girls/guys at the top of 4.5 really belong in 5.0, and the girls/guys at the top of 4.0 really belong in 4.5, etc.....

If people didn’t tank games perhaps enough would be bumped to 5.0 and a new league could be formed in your area , just get the LC on the phone.


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#50
Does the USTA really care? I dont believe so.

Yes, they get our money. But they completely disregard all the money they lose from the would-be 3.0 & 3.5’s that just bailed.

I think if they had any business sense they’d ban sandbaggers that showed up at nationals. Make a few examples of them. Sure, they’d lose a customer or two. But it’s addition by subtraction. Each sandbagger probably chases away 100+ would be tennis players over time.

When I contacted the USTA to complain about my experience, the rep was more interested in how I made it to a tourney final after only play a couple months. He then offered me a spot on his personal team. THIS WAS A USTA REP!!! I was calling to report a sandbagger and his response was to ENCOURAGE me to sandbag for him!

I reported him to the national office. They did NOTHING about the matter.

Seems that’s the crux of the matter. USTA doesn’t care. They seem happy to just run the beauty pageant regardless of the outcome, then pat each other on the back for how smoothly the tournament ran. In some ways I can’t blame them, there are plenty of volunteers who give up their time to make local/district/sectional events run. IMO there is no validation - at any level - of skill levels per the USTA guidelines as the USTA season progresses to Nationals. The relative descriptions of 3.0, 3.5 and even 4.0 are a half step off (low) or they’re ok with standard play that’s not reflective their own established standards. And then there’s the willingness of certain people to cheat. USTA is social, period; I don't get the rush of beating opponents below your level by bagels and breadsticks every match...but some folks always need a trophy.
 
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