Are sandbaggers really just the best players at level?

Dartagnan64

Legend
The answer I’ve always said is to make the USTA awards greater for getting bumped up than for winning nationals.

Nationals and regionals should be a festival of tennis with no trophies and minimal recognition. But if you cross that barrier from 3.0 to 3.5 or 3.5 to 4.0, then pull out the big plaque, T-shirts, etc.

Reward players for getting better, not beating inferior competition with managed ratings.
 
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.
This would only work if there were a sufficient # of 5.0s. But the distribution is highly skewed towards the median and the tails are quite thin. In a tennis hotbed, you end up with 2, maybe 3, teams. In non-hotbeds, no league.
 

winchestervatennis

Hall of Fame
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.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I don’t disagree with your comments. But I assume it would take some effort on not only the LCs part but also those looking to start the local league at the 5.0 level. And from what i can tell no one is stepping up to the plate to do so, at least around here. In SC the 5.0 teams go right to state, so I’m not even sure it’s possible for one local area to have a league and the winner goes to state with other singleton teams getting direct entry. In fact, I believe they consider state the local league. So the change would have to come from the state level rather than local and I don’t see that initiative being taken either.

Not saying its right, just saying how it is.
 

5sets

Semi-Pro
Yeah, it’s a problem. Why would you drive 3 hours to DC on a Tuesday night to play 5.0 League. I hear you. You kind of have validation, like I said. You are not staying in 4.5 to stomp people, but rather get some good tennis in with the others at top of level/should be bumped up.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
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.
Open tourneys done this way use a bye system. No different than the pros. So early matches are between weaker players. And the winners eventually get knocked out after they win and advance to a player that is marginally better than then.

There is no incentive to sandbag in this system. In fact, the incentive is to get your rating up higher so you can avoid as many early matches as possible so you dont run the risk of being upset by a weaker player.
 
Last edited:

R1FF

Semi-Pro
The best tournament I ever entered was a open tournament that had a group stage round robin on day 1 to set the seeding.

It was the best of everything. Everyone was guaranteed 3 matches, unlike most tourneys where most people get knocked out and have to go home. Personally I love the pressure of 1-and-done but I can see why it’s important to try and give customers value for their wasted weekend.

I qualified for the bracket, got knocked out by the eventual champion. Didnt care that i didnt get a trophy, or that I had to play such a superior player. I was super stoked I’d made it to the semi’s considering a few 4.0’s & 4.5’s did not.

The concept of a 3.0 national champ is great in theory but it just invites so many problems.

A better system would be a single national amateur champ. That would be determined by a series of events that started at the local level. Higher rated players would receive byes that were earned by their rating. So a 4.0 wouldnt have to play until a sectional event for instance. Let the 3.0’s battle for the local title, qualify for regional, get bounced. Let the 4.0’s battle for regional, win that title, advance aget eventually get bounced at the state level. The nationals would/should be full of 4.5 & 5.0 players that earned it.
 
Last edited:

5sets

Semi-Pro
Ehhh, an Open format for League is pretty far fetched. Ultimately you can’t have 3.5s and 4.5s in the same draw or what have you. Maybe if Nationals were just eliminated and there was no pat on the back for being 1st at your rating group but rather the USTA refunded you 25% of your team joining and match fees at the end of the season if you were bumped up to the next rating level.

This would assure every competitor fighting hard for each and every point and game regardless of if they won or lost a match.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
These are all great ideas and well thought out, I am not criticizing the thought behind them. But, I want to remind you this is all for money, the usta wants to make money, so leagues, with tiers, involving teams, bring the mon mons. No one has proven this theory, but I would guess an open system would have lower participation and lower revenue than the way the usta is now, regardless of the merits of what system is better. There is only so much time in a weekend so there isn't much incentive for the usta to try and muddy the waters with some of these ideas when they are getting a good amount of money already.
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
Cant say I disagree.

But I think it’s short sighted & long term hurtful financially for the USTA for them to have such a lazy approach to dealing with the issue of sandbagging. They largely take a hands off approach, which chases away would-be revenue.

I’ve yet to go to a tournament where the 3.0 division is the largest draw. That is a clear indication of a problem. Lotsa missed revenue there.
 
I think the the tournaments aren't the money makers, the leagues are, hence the spring, summer, fall, non-rating counting trial leagues, 40 and over, mixed, bleh bleh bleh. Also, do 3.0 players actually want to mess with entering tournaments, aren't they too new to the game or too old to want to play that much tennis?
 

5sets

Semi-Pro
Yup yup. Just spinning the wheels. That can be said of any topic in these TT boards. Nothing anyone says or does in here will change anything. Me I’m content being on a middle of the road 4.5 team. I get great matches with competitive people, and even if we did make it to Nationals I don’t think my wife and kids would be happy with me away all weekend.

I heard some good responses in here. I guess I wanted to get inside the peoples’ heads who hoard plastic trophies in ntrp tourneys but never play age division or opens, or those who have been at the top of their level for years but don’t play “up” as well in League play.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
Yup yup. Just spinning the wheels. That can be said of any topic in these TT boards. Nothing anyone says or does in here will change anything. Me I’m content being on a middle of the road 4.5 team. I get great matches with competitive people, and even if we did make it to Nationals I don’t think my wife and kids would be happy with me away all weekend.

I heard some good responses in here. I guess I wanted to get inside the peoples’ heads who hoard plastic trophies in ntrp tourneys but never play age division or opens, or those who have been at the top of their level for years but don’t play “up” as well in League play.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I asked a friend who sandbags “why he does it”. Here is his explanation...

1. For starters, he doesnt think he’s sandbagging. He feels he is playing that the level he belongs (despite his earned ratings & actual skill level) because he’s competitive in matches and will win a couple

2. He says that his choice to play down is in response to others that do it (domino effect)

3. He wants to feel like he has at least the chance of winning the tourney. If he knows he’s gonna get knocked out early or mid bracket then the effort & cost of a tourney aint worth it

None of these answers are valid imo. But I hope it gives you insight into the mentality. It’s not as malicious as it seems. It comes from a place of laziness imo. It’s like they want to enter a competitive environment yet avoid the anxiety & failure of actually competing at their true level.
 

Dags

Hall of Fame
In the UK, Open leagues are how almost all of our team sports work, professional or amateur. It all hinges on a divisional structure, with promotion or relegation.

The competition that includes something closest to your concept of nationals is our National Club League, or NCL. That works like this:

The National tier contains four divisions of eight teams. Those are determined geographically - Midlands, North, South East and South West. Each team will face all of the others in the same division; at the end of the season, the top team from each division will progress directly to the finals (a knockout competition between 8 teams), whilst a further 8 teams enter the playoffs, from which 4 will progress to the finals. To give an appreciation of the level at the top, it truly is open, and contains world ranked players. Liam Broady played for the champions last year. The bottom two teams from each division will be relegated to the Regional tier.

The Regional tier contains eight divisions of up to eight teams. These are again determined geographically, but are more concentrated than at National tier. Each area has two divisions - the Midlands is split into East and West, the South East is split into North and South for example. The winner of each division is promoted to National tier, the bottom two teams in each division are relegated to the County tier.

County tier is the smallest geographically. Division 1 will typically contain up to 8 teams, and the winner will progress to playoffs where they play for promotion to the Regional tier. The bottom teams are relegated and replaced by the winners of Division 2, and you rinse and repeat below that with Division 3, 4, 5… however many you need to accommodate all the teams. Division 1 will typically feature players with UTRs of up to 10 or 11. You occasionally get someone better, but for the most part players of 12 or up will either be playing in a higher division, or not playing league at all and focusing on tournaments.

As well as NCL, we have plenty of leagues within each county. Summer league, winter league, mixed, seniors... They all have a similar structure, with promotion and relegation. There are no play offs in these - if you’re the best team in the county you’ll get a mention in the newsletter, but that’s about as far as it goes.

The promotion and relegation structure gives almost all matches a measure of importance. If your team is performing well you’re aiming for promotion, if you do badly you’re battling relegation. It means you don’t get many dead rubbers, which is good for competition.
 

norcal

Hall of Fame
I asked a friend who sandbags “why he does it”. Here is his explanation...

1. For starters, he doesnt think he’s sandbagging. He feels he is playing that the level he belongs (despite his earned ratings & actual skill level) because he’s competitive in matches and will win a couple

2. He says that his choice to play down is in response to others that do it (domino effect)

3. He wants to feel like he has at least the chance of winning the tourney. If he knows he’s gonna get knocked out early or mid bracket then the effort & cost of a tourney aint worth it

None of these answers are valid imo. But I hope it gives you insight into the mentality. It’s not as malicious as it seems. It comes from a place of laziness imo. It’s like they want to enter a competitive environment yet avoid the anxiety & failure of actually competing at their true level.
As for 3., that is why back draws are good. Players are guaranteed more than one match. Of course that takes more courts and logistics...
 

5sets

Semi-Pro
I just chuckle when I see threads like the one a few down, “just got back from 3.5 Nationals”, sorry man. To each his own I guess. Some would rather be the Roger Federer of 3.5 then the Donald Young of 4.0.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Moveforwardalways

Hall of Fame
You guys are forgetting the two main reasons for USTA leagues: money and entertainment. Complaining about the legitimacy of ratings is totally amateur. You can always tell someone who is new to rec tennis.
 

5sets

Semi-Pro
You guys are forgetting the two main reasons for USTA leagues: money and entertainment. Complaining about the legitimacy of ratings is totally amateur. You can always tell someone who is new to rec tennis.
Oh I really don’t care. I’ve taken plenty of lumps in age and Open tourneys. I would rather lose in a competitive match than win easily in an NTRP format. The discussion we are having is what drives men and women to keep competing at a lower level when they have the skills to make a run in the higher level. If you look at my OP I said I was teaching a woman with solid groundstrokes of both sides, excellent movement and hand eye coordination who was easily 4.0 but she told me she was excited to go to 3.5 Nationals. For what? You guys have told me there’s nothing there besides tennis. And you have to pay your own way.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
I said I was teaching a woman with solid groundstrokes of both sides, excellent movement and hand eye coordination who was easily 4.0 but she told me she was excited to go to 3.5 Nationals.
You recognize her as easily 4.0 but does she? if she's surrounded by teammates who tell her how great she is and what a weapon she will be for the team, can you blame her for getting excited about 3.5 Nationals? It does feel nice to be a big fish in a small pond. I don't fault her for that. I wouldn't expect her, for example, to say "Oh, I'm a 4.0? OK, I'll quit my 3.5 team and appeal up and try to find a team even though I don't know anyone at 4.0."

I would fault her if she stayed at 3.5 after crushing the competition or worse, if she sandbagged to remain there.
 

5sets

Semi-Pro
You recognize her as easily 4.0 but does she? if she's surrounded by teammates who tell her how great she is and what a weapon she will be for the team, can you blame her for getting excited about 3.5 Nationals? It does feel nice to be a big fish in a small pond. I don't fault her for that. I wouldn't expect her, for example, to say "Oh, I'm a 4.0? OK, I'll quit my 3.5 team and appeal up and try to find a team even though I don't know anyone at 4.0."

I would fault her if she stayed at 3.5 after crushing the competition or worse, if she sandbagged to remain there.
Point taken. I used her as an example
to open up the discussion to those who DO stay at the lower level even after crushing the competition. Sandbagging like you said. Why do people do it? People who after being bumped up at the end of the season, appeal down so they can Rinse, Repeat, Rinse, Repeat for a whole new year of handing out straight set beatings. Did you read our discussion?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
Why do people do it? People who after being bumped up at the end of the season, appeal down so they can Rinse, Repeat, Rinse, Repeat for a whole new year of handing out straight set beatings.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I really think it has to do with a type of "competitor" that doesnt want to have to go thru the anxiety of true competition. Imagine yourself playing a division down from where you belong? You're going to be relaxed, probably make it to the finals, and get your money's worth as far as court time is concerned. You will win some finals and lose some, without ever really having to go thru the stress or risk.
 
Point taken. I used her as an example
to open up the discussion to those who DO stay at the lower level even after crushing the competition. Sandbagging like you said. Why do people do it? People who after being bumped up at the end of the season, appeal down so they can Rinse, Repeat, Rinse, Repeat for a whole new year of handing out straight set beatings. Did you read our discussion?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I did follow it. You didn't describe her as winning, getting bumped up, then appealing down. You only described her as a 4.0 in your view and she's going to 3.5 Nationals. I wouldn't call that sandbagging...yet. I would if she won, got bumped up, and then appealed down.
 

Matthew ATX

Semi-Pro
Open tourneys done this way use a bye system. No different than the pros. So early matches are between weaker players. And the winners eventually get knocked out after they win and advance to a player that is marginally better than then.

There is no incentive to sandbag in this system. In fact, the incentive is to get your rating up higher so you can avoid as many early matches as possible so you dont run the risk of being upset by a weaker player.
I get that there would be no incentive to sandbag in that setup. What I don't get is how it's any better for the players complaining about playing sandbaggers. If you're a mid-level 4.0 who doesn't want to play against 4.5 level people, that setup is going to be even worse for you.
 

5sets

Semi-Pro
I think he means you will just end up losing to someone better than you as opposed to someone pretending to be your level that is better than you.

This is ultimately the UTR format and how they have a feed in draw. I beat a bunch of other 8 and 9s before ultimately getting smoked by a 12. But at least I don’t have a first round match against a 12 pretending to be a 9.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
I think he means you will just end up losing to someone better than you as opposed to someone pretending to be your level that is better than you.

This is ultimately the UTR format and how they have a feed in draw. I beat a bunch of other 8 and 9s before ultimately getting smoked by a 12. But at least I don’t have a first round match against a 12 pretending to be a 9.
But if they sandbag, won't the UTR 12 be able to achieve a 9?

In the end, there wouldn't be any difference in competition; the difference will be in my ego [ie getting crushed by someone recognized as way better than I vs by someone that theoretically I stood a good chance to beat].
 
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?
I posted something similar last year

"Going to Nationals!" Waste of time, and antithetical to your development!

https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/going-to-nationals-waste-of-time-and-antithetical-to-your-development.619176/


To me, Nationals is the silliest thing ever.

If you go to Nationals, all that means is that you wasted an entire year playing below you.
You could have spent that time playing people at (or above) your level, and revealing flaws.
And then addressing them by drilling.

Playing people worse than you just makes you a dinky pusher.
On the other hand, getting your weak serve or BH brutally punished is a motivator to improve and get some real strokes.
Not getting false accolades.

Went 18-0? Going to Nationals?
Congrats, you're a sandbagger with snowflake self-esteem!

Play a real match sometime at +.5 or +1.0
 

5sets

Semi-Pro
But if they sandbag, won't the UTR 12 be able to achieve a 9?

In the end, there wouldn't be any difference in competition; the difference will be in my ego [ie getting crushed by someone recognized as way better than I vs by someone that theoretically I stood a good chance to beat].
Well thankfully there’s no reason for one to do that in UTR. There are no Nationals. No plastic trophies for winning tourneys. Just get togethers to play competitive matches. The goal is to improve your rating. If a D1 UTR 12 really wanted to sandbag to a 9 he could, but there is no trip involved and if he wanted to progress to playing Futures and Challengers events then he has some serious issues... well basically it’s just not done in UTR. There’s kids playing these events who want to improve their rating so colleges will look at them, not play down so they can beat a bunch of adults.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Well thankfully there’s no reason for one to do that in UTR. There are no Nationals. No plastic trophies for winning tourneys. Just get togethers to play competitive matches. The goal is to improve your rating. If a D1 UTR 12 really wanted to sandbag to a 9 he could, but there is no trip involved and if he wanted to progress to playing Futures and Challengers events then he has some serious issues... well basically it’s just not done in UTR. There’s kids playing these events who want to improve their rating so colleges will look at them, not play down so they can beat a bunch of adults.
Ah, got it. But maybe UTR doesn't have those events because USTA already does. Perhaps if USTA stopped doing them, as some have suggested as a means to stop sandbagging, UTR would step in to fill the void.

To me, it's fundamentally about the sandbaggers, not the organizational structure: if my primary/only goal is to win, then sandbagging is easier than working to improve.
 
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.
I totally hear where you're coming from,
I can see why a 4.5/5.0 would think 3.5 is a garbage player,
but in reality, 3.5 can also be a serious player who has invested a lifetime into the game.

By serious, I mean, tennis is their main interest in life.
They often join indoor tennis clubs in the winter (a mark of a very dedicated player)

I know lots of serious/dedicated players who will never move past 3.5
Most people never will without playing 5x a week for some sustained period of time.

Many 3.5 often use advanced strokes. But, using advances strokes is often a great way to lose.
Double fault vs. dink serve. Crushing FH that goes long vs. sliceBunt
NTRP means one thing: win/loss.
These 3.5 players have strong FH, stable BH, 1st serve aces, kicking 2nd, can volley and overhead.
They can rally with a 4.5 and you might not know the difference.

What 3.5 lack is consistency, and proper shot selection.
They will try hit running DTL BH winners, instead of lobbing like an ATP pro
They are not pushers, so they go spazz and try to hit winners, unlike FedPusher who slices 35% of his BHs
I often see 4.0 are bunters/junkers/3.0 style strokes, while many 3.5 have strokes that look ATP pretty (and inconsistent)
 
Last edited:

Raul_SJ

Legend
Point taken. I used her as an example
to open up the discussion to those who DO stay at the lower level even after crushing the competition. Sandbagging like you said. Why do people do it? People who after being bumped up at the end of the season, appeal down so they can Rinse, Repeat, Rinse, Repeat for a whole new year of handing out straight set beatings. Did you read our discussion?
I think everyone agrees that those who do that are limiting their potential.
You will improve more by accepting the promotion and going 6-6 at the next level rather than appealing down and going 10-2 at the lower level.
I don't get the mindset, as I want to improve first and foremost. I guess those people just like the feeling of winning.
 
Last edited:
5.0 leagues should not exist.
At 5.0, you're basically a unicorn.
Hell, even a 4.5 is a zebra.

5.0 should just trade phone numbers and play among themselves.
All 3 of them probably already know each other.
 
Last edited:
I played a UTR tournament and played a UTR10 and UTR8.

Juniors who were totally out of my league, and I felt sorry for my opponents, wasting their time.
I knew I would lose, so I decided to just hit big and try to get some points, and get some respect.
Roundly got my ass kicked, but never got bageled in any of the 4 sets, and I loved every minute of it.

I could not believe that $50 got me a chance to hit with talent I've never seen in person.
Ego? My ego swelled much more by winning a few points off players several levels above me.
I thought it was an amazing milestone for my tennis development, and one of the highlights of my summer.
Compare that with beating on some hapless 3.0 for a fake trophy? No contest.
 
Last edited:

R1FF

Semi-Pro
But if they sandbag, won't the UTR 12 be able to achieve a 9?
].
Nobody sandbags in this format for risk of getting knocked out early.

Better rating means byes.

Not worth the risk of losing to a lower ranked person. The nature of this format incentivizes having a higher ranking.
 
Last edited:

GatorTennis

Rookie
I know this is just a bunch of guys whining, but here's another perspective.

Since 3.5 has been the level of choice in this thread, consider what the rating really means. The NTRP basically says that a 3.49 should beat a 3.0 by a score of 6-0, 6-0. There is that much disparity in the rating level. So the next time you say someone is sandbagging, try to understand where the rating system is coming from. When I was coming up, and even sometimes today, there are matches I should win 6-0, 6-0, but I never have. Why? Because I get bored typically. The opposite has been true as well, where I should have never gotten a game and pulled a few. Never said the guy was sandbagging, why would I?

Some people sandbag some because the next level just isn't fun. So to keep on the 3.5 level, a player may dominate at 3.5, but he lacks the tools to win or even compete at 4.0. Maybe their primary weapons are endurance or just playing smart. That may not get you far at 4.0. Then you have trouble finding teams to play on or even get playing time. Maybe they don't want to put the effort in but still want to play. There are reasons to sandbag that I understand.

The reasons I don't understand are for trying to win, when you are clearly more than a half point better. I can understand a weak 4.0 signing up as a 3.5. I can't understand a strong 4.0 or even a 4.5 signing up as a 3.5. Ultimately, the USTA needs to take the surveys to heart (which they don't), and some of you guys just need to lighten up a bit.
 
Some people sandbag some because the next level just isn't fun. So to keep on the 3.5 level, a player may dominate at 3.5, but he lacks the tools to win or even compete at 4.0.
I have a hard time imagining someone who dominates at 3.5 but can't even compete at 4.0. He may not have a winning record but he should at least be able to stay on the court. It's not like breaking the sound barrier where there is a dramatic change when one crosses into 4.0: maybe playing against the highest 4.0s but certainly not against the mid- or lower-4.0s.

He just has to get accustomed to not being a big fish anymore and some don't want to deal with that.

Maybe their primary weapons are endurance or just playing smart. That may not get you far at 4.0.
Endurance and playing smart won't get you as far at 4.0 as they do at 3.5, granted. But they will still produce results. It's not as if they suddenly become ineffective.

Then you have trouble finding teams to play on or even get playing time. Maybe they don't want to put the effort in but still want to play. There are reasons to sandbag that I understand.
I suppose. It never occurred to me to sandbag to stay at the lower level because I might not be able to find a team at the higher level. I just assumed it would work out [and perhaps that was naive].
 
Last edited:

Max G.

Legend
There's also different types of people we're talking about here.

Some people play fair, get bumped up, then hit the "appeal down" button and if it works it works. IMO, this is fine! It means their rating is borderline between two levels, and they'll get good competitive matches at either level. At the lower level they'll probably get the occasional (but not too common) easy win against the bottom of the level, probably have a bunch of tough matches which they're favored to win (but probably won't win all of them). At the higher level, they'll probably get the occasional (but not too common) beatdown, but mostly have good matches which they're not favored to win (but they'll probably still get a few wins). In this case, the fact that they can appeal just means the rating system is on the fence about which level is best for them, so I think it's fine either way.

And then there's people that actively tank matches, throw games in order to maintain an artificially low rating. This is pretty clearly cheating - they're not going to get good competitive matches at that level (because if they were having competitive matches, they wouldn't have had to tank to keep a rating...) That stuff is pretty annoying - if you have to throw games to stay at a level, you'd do fine at the next level up.
 

schmke

Hall of Fame
There's also different types of people we're talking about here.

Some people play fair, get bumped up, then hit the "appeal down" button and if it works it works. IMO, this is fine! It means their rating is borderline between two levels, and they'll get good competitive matches at either level. At the lower level they'll probably get the occasional (but not too common) easy win against the bottom of the level, probably have a bunch of tough matches which they're favored to win (but probably won't win all of them). At the higher level, they'll probably get the occasional (but not too common) beatdown, but mostly have good matches which they're not favored to win (but they'll probably still get a few wins). In this case, the fact that they can appeal just means the rating system is on the fence about which level is best for them, so I think it's fine either way.
What you say is true, but some people really prefer going 8-2 at the lower level than 2-8 at the higher level. The fact that 60-70% of their matches were competitive in a 2-8 season doesn't stroke the ego like an 8-2 record.

Me personally, I'm a middle of the road 4.5 and will have at best a 0.500 record in most years and I'm fine with that and greatly prefer that to playing 4.0. I had a gaudy record and went to Sectionals my last year as a 4.0 and while it was fun to win, I would never tank matches just to experience that again. The challenge of playing better players is far more important to me.

But I'm not so naive to think that there aren't some players that put a priority on having that lopsided winning record and being sought after for the team aiming to make a run at Nationals. And these are the people that will do what you describe here:

And then there's people that actively tank matches, throw games in order to maintain an artificially low rating. This is pretty clearly cheating - they're not going to get good competitive matches at that level (because if they were having competitive matches, they wouldn't have had to tank to keep a rating...) That stuff is pretty annoying - if you have to throw games to stay at a level, you'd do fine at the next level up.
 

5sets

Semi-Pro
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.
Yeah, I mean wouldn’t two trim and fit
26 year old men just feel sheepish at court 1 4.0 Doubles with a 46 year old greying English teacher and a pudgy 39 year old car salesman?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Yeah, I mean wouldn’t two trim and fit
26 year old men just feel sheepish at court 1 4.0 Doubles with a 46 year old greying English teacher and a pudgy 39 year old car salesman?
If they [the young'uns] lost? Maybe. Or maybe the older guys are better; age, hair condition, and profession notwithstanding.
 

5sets

Semi-Pro
I posted something similar last year

"Going to Nationals!" Waste of time, and antithetical to your development!

https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/going-to-nationals-waste-of-time-and-antithetical-to-your-development.619176/


To me, Nationals is the silliest thing ever.

If you go to Nationals, all that means is that you wasted an entire year playing below you.
You could have spent that time playing people at (or above) your level, and revealing flaws.
And then addressing them by drilling.

Playing people worse than you just makes you a dinky pusher.
On the other hand, getting your weak serve or BH brutally punished is a motivator to improve and get some real strokes.
Not getting false accolades.

Went 18-0? Going to Nationals?
Congrats, you're a sandbagger with snowflake self-esteem!

Play a real match sometime at +.5 or +1.0
Yes, I read your thread last year, lol. Whenever I read one of your posts I imagine your emoji declaring it. Was that what you were going for?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
There's also different types of people we're talking about here.

Some people play fair, get bumped up, then hit the "appeal down" button and if it works it works. IMO, this is fine! It means their rating is borderline between two levels, and they'll get good competitive matches at either level. At the lower level they'll probably get the occasional (but not too common) easy win against the bottom of the level, probably have a bunch of tough matches which they're favored to win (but probably won't win all of them). At the higher level, they'll probably get the occasional (but not too common) beatdown, but mostly have good matches which they're not favored to win (but they'll probably still get a few wins). In this case, the fact that they can appeal just means the rating system is on the fence about which level is best for them, so I think it's fine either way.

And then there's people that actively tank matches, throw games in order to maintain an artificially low rating. This is pretty clearly cheating - they're not going to get good competitive matches at that level (because if they were having competitive matches, they wouldn't have had to tank to keep a rating...) That stuff is pretty annoying - if you have to throw games to stay at a level, you'd do fine at the next level up.
This is exactly right, and it describes me perfectly (the first type not the second, LOL). I played 4.0 for years and captained a team to a national runner-up in 2013. I got bumped after the 2014 season and was like 6-15 over the next three years at 4.5 until I was bumped back down last year. I have not and will not ever throw matches or even games or sets to manipulate my rating down, but if the computer says I can play 4.0, I will. I mostly win at 4.0 and mostly get thrashed at 4.5. Winning is more fun than losing, and I actually have more competitive matches at the lower level than the higher level (hence why it takes longer for me to get bumped up than back down). I'm almost 50 and have been playing tennis for 40 years. I'm not getting any better anymore at this point (in fact, physically, I'm going in the other direction...), so I don't really have any motivation to just play at the higher level to improve. It's not happening that way at this point. I'd rather spend the twilight of my athletic career chasing something I might be able to actually achieve.

If I won nationals by actively tanking my rating down to 3.5 or something, that victory would feel cheap and hollow and not even worth achieving, but if I play competitively and the computer says I'm allowed to play 4.0 and I succeed at that level, that is an accomplishment.
 

TennisCJC

Legend
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.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
USTA needs to redistribute the players and come up with more levels. There should be a 3.5-, 3.5, 3.5+, 4.0-, 4.0, 4.0+ , 4.5-, 4.5, 4.5+ and a 5.0 (open). Basically, the equates to low, middle and high tiers of C, B and A level tennis with 5.0 being for open level players.
 

ShaunS

Semi-Pro
Ehhh, an Open format for League is pretty far fetched.
I don't think it's even possible, but if someone comes up with an idea...

The problem with "fixing" leagues isn't that the USTA doesn't care, as people often like to opine. There just isn't a simple solution. Are the problems easy to see? Sure, and largely they're based off the existence of arbitrarily selected groupings and human behavior.

I think the the tournaments aren't the money makers, the leagues are, hence the spring, summer, fall, non-rating counting trial leagues, 40 and over, mixed, bleh bleh bleh.
I would agree. I think there's also a lot of different considerations for tournaments vs leagues that come into play for combatting incorrectly rated players. Frankly, easier fixes that could rejuvenate some interest in them.

Me I’m content being on a middle of the road 4.5 team.
I think we experience quite an "echo chamber" on here with concerns about rating and sandbagging that doesn't accurately represent the league participation as a whole. I would be surprised if a wide survey of USTA league players put sandbagging as one of the top 3 problems for them.

The promotion and relegation structure gives almost all matches a measure of importance. If your team is performing well you’re aiming for promotion, if you do badly you’re battling relegation.
I love relegation rules for sports.

I have a hard time imagining someone who dominates at 3.5 but can't even compete at 4.0. He may not have a winning record but he should at least be able to stay on the court. It's not like breaking the sound barrier where there is a dramatic change when one crosses into 4.0: maybe playing against the highest 4.0s but certainly not against the mid- or lower-4.0s.
Agreed, Gator basically illuminates this point in the first part of their post too. There should be quite a difference between a 3.00 (3.0) player and a 3.49 (3 player, but in theory the difference between a 3.49 (3.5) and a 3.51 (4.0) is hardly anything.

Sure if they face players at the top of the range they'll get drummed, but it shouldn't be non-competitive against most.

If I won nationals by actively tanking my rating down to 3.5 or something, that victory would feel cheap and hollow and not even worth achieving, but if I play competitively and the computer says I'm allowed to play 4.0 and I succeed at that level, that is an accomplishment.
Excellent thought. I can appreciate that some people aren't necessarily "highly competitive" so they aren't motivated to advance or play nationals. However, I'm a very competitive person. I play pickup basketball with a ragtag group of people most weeks, and I still want to win those games.

Sports are a framework of rules for you to compete within. The USTA NTRP leagues are an additional constraint. The scenario is set... can you beat this guy with these rules? Challenge accepted. That's the fun of playing nationals, and ideally getting to share in that victory with a group of people you like being around. There's nothing wrong with enjoying that, and the fact it's not top level tennis is irrelevant.

USTA needs to redistribute the players and come up with more levels.
I believe there's a little bit of this going on in some really popular areas. The problem is that less densely populated regions can struggle to even fill the existing ones. In the end it can work as a way to enhance the experience in some locales, but you'll still have the same overall ratings challenges.
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
I think we experience quite an "echo chamber" on here with concerns about rating and sandbagging that doesn't accurately represent the league participation as a whole. I would be surprised if a wide survey of USTA league players put sandbagging as one of the top 3 problems for them.
Why would you ever poll the group whom either cant find anything better to do or likes a flawed system?

It’s the people you couldn't poll that matter. The people who quit entering USTA events that need to be addressed.

Dying sports do this all the time. They cater to the current audience and ignore everyone that left for greener pasteurs. Then wonder “what happened?”
 

ShaunS

Semi-Pro
Why would you ever poll the group whom either cant find anything better to do or likes a flawed system?
First, you should be very concerned with the satisfaction and concerns of your existing "customer base". You must understand what they like and dislike before you make any changes. Otherwise you risk alienating existing players for the chance to recover others.

Also, the idea that "they can't find anything better to do" is an unsupported assertion. My argument was they like it as it is.

It’s the people you couldn't poll that matter. The people who quit entering USTA events that need to be addressed.
Absolutely important for an organization to understand why anyone leaves. That's why I never suggested anything else.

They cater to the current audience and ignore everyone that left for greener pasteurs.
This is true of sports and organizations as a whole. The up-and-comer has less to lose from change, and that freedom is what often allows them to catch the leader.

The challenge is for the USTA (and other orgs) to figure out what the real problems are. You will never make everyone happy, and that's why understanding the concerns of your current, former, and even people who've never joined is important. In 2018 nearly 350,000 kids played high school tennis. That is more than USTA leagues. There are plenty of newcomers out there who could be brought into the fold. You don't want to ignore them either.

However, let's go back to my point about "echo chambers". I didn't suggest anything you said. I'm only pointing out that this forum has a tendency to attract a person who's probably more competitive and more involved in league play than the average. It is risky to assume that a more "hardcore" group like this will share the same concerns as the larger audience.
 

wings56

Hall of Fame
Anytime you have a skill level rating type system, there will be manipulation. Some will be willing to push it further than others...

So to answer your original question - Yes, sandbaggers are the best at their level, due to said sandbagging. The sandbaggers feel justified in their sandbagging because many of these people still lose many matches. Only one team wins nationals...

An argument against sandbagging is an inherent desire to bring down the upper bound of what is considered to be at level.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
USTA needs to redistribute the players and come up with more levels. There should be a 3.5-, 3.5, 3.5+, 4.0-, 4.0, 4.0+ , 4.5-, 4.5, 4.5+ and a 5.0 (open). Basically, the equates to low, middle and high tiers of C, B and A level tennis with 5.0 being for open level players.
I think in a very high population metro area this is a workable possibility (see ALTA). There are participation numbers sufficient to make those leagues workable.

I think in the rest of the country it is non-supportable. Some areas cannot even support the levels USTA has right now ... how would they do more?
 
Top