why is this the case in USTA/America? I hear people talk on these boards all the time about the massive skill differences between partners on mixed teams
Admittedly I don’t play a lot of mixed, but when I do the partners are generally around the same skill level - generally the only significant difference is physical (i.e. strength/speed). If anything the woman will often be the slightly better player, to try and even out those physical differences
the idea of deliberately putting a very weak female player with a much stronger male player to create very unbalanced teams is entirely foreign to me - I’d have thought your competitions would have rules against it
Alas, no, the USTA makes Mixed a different form of tennis, seemingly by design.
Mixed leagues (at least those that advance to Nationals) are combination leagues on the .0, so 6.0, 7.0, 8.0, etc. The rules state that the sum of players on a court can't exceed the level, so in an 8.0 flight you could pair a 3.5M/4.5W, 4.0M/4.0W, or 4.5M/3.5W.
Given that NTRP levels are not gender neutral, and that generally speaking a woman needs to be 0.5 higher to be roughly equivalent to a man (e.g. a 4.0W and 3.5M are likely similar skill/ability) this means:
3.5M/4.5W - The woman is likely stronger than the man, but reasonably balanced.
4.0M/4.0W - The man is likely stronger than the woman, but arguably still reasonably balanced.
4.5M/3.5W - The man is a LOT stronger than the women (it would take a 5.0W to be roughly similar to the 4.5M and the 3.5W is three levels away from that), certainly not balanced.
is that it turns out that the 4.5M/3.5W pairing tends to be the most successful one, but this requires (generally, not always, don't shoot me for stereotyping) the woman to just park on top of the net guarding the alley and the man covers the rest of the court. In this scenario, as long as the woman can defend their spot, the man will be the strongest player on the court against 4.0M/4.0W or 3.5M/4.5W, and in theory have the advantage.
Now, if you can get a 3.5W that is really a 4.0 in 3.5 clothing and can do more than the stereotype above, the team is even stronger, thus the incentive for the man or woman to have an underrated C rating relative to their ability in Mixed.
Now, if the USTA were to make Mixed on the half level, e.g. 6.5, 7.5, 8.5, etc. and require that players only be a half level apart, e.g. in 8.5 the players must be 4.0 and 4.5, the gap is much smaller and the game that is played resembles normal tennis a whole lot more than the 4.5M/3.5W scenario. But that isn't what we have, so we get the shenanigans we get.