Picking A Big Ol' Fight With Schmke

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Cindysphinx, Dec 6, 2017.

  1. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Buckle up, 'cause I'm about to say something controversial:

    **These rating sites are ruining league tennis.**

    There once was a time when people did not know where they stood within their rating level. Ratings came out in November, you found out you were whatever you were, and that was that.

    The result of this was that people had less incentive to and ability to manipulate their ratings. If you wanted to move down, say, you couldn't know how close you were to achieving your "goal." If you were a captain with a self-rating sandbagger on your team, say, you couldn't know how close to the line the player was. Teammates had impressions of who was stranger than whom, but there were enough unexpected results in match play that you could never be completely sure whether you were the fourth strongest or tenth strongest.

    Now, though. Now it seems that some captains and players have become well and truly obsessed with their ratings on these ratings sites.

    I no longer captain, but I have a 3.0 sister who captains in another state. Oh, the havoc these rating sites have wreaked! Players will tell my sister that they don't want to play with Person X because Person X's rating is closer to the end of the scale. Or if they have learned they are close to being bumped up, they don't want to play on Court Three where they might encounter weak competition such that giving up a few games will lower their rating. Or if they see they are in the middle of their level, you hear, "What's the point of taking a lesson when I'm nowhere close to moving up?" I can't speak for men's teams because I don't know any men's team captains, but my sister's stories suggest that on her team the knowledge of the respective ratings of everyone on the team has led to a preening, holier-than-thou, mean girl dynamic just because Becky is .02 higher than Sally. Yuk.

    The upshot is that it is no longer good enough to play well or to improve or to win. Now players want to manage their rating to the one-hundredth of a point. I don't think this is healthy for team dynamics or league tennis as a whole.

    Anyone care to weigh in?

    Cindy -- who joined the TT Fantasy League because she thinks it will be great fun and hoping Schmke won't bench her for this post
     
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  2. Startzel

    Startzel Hall of Fame

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    I applaud the troll effort coming from someone that is ecstatic about being bumped down...
     
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  3. esgee48

    esgee48 Legend

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    @schmke provides a service. He can't help it if the information is used for nefarious purposes. :)
     
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  4. schmke

    schmke Hall of Fame

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    Gasp! :eek:

    First, the All TT Teams will be entirely merit based, I would never let something personal affecting something that should be objective like that.

    Second, I think this is a healthy discussion to have and am not offended that would you bring it up and "pick a fight" with me.

    I think looking at ratings is interesting, the way I got started doing this was because I am analytical, numbers oriented, and have done rating systems for other sports in the past so when I started playing USTA, I was naturally curious about this whole NTRP system. One might say things have spiraled out of control at this point, but other people are interested in ratings too and so I provide a service to help satisfy their interest and curiosity.

    I personally find tanking matches to be offensive and actively tell folks that may have an inclination to want to be bumped down that I do not recommend managing a rating down and to just go play and let the chips fall where they may. In fact, with a little effort I think many folks can improve their game and improve their at-level results. But I'm also not so naive to think that someone might get a report from me to see how close they are to getting bumped down, but I figure these players would be tanking matches regardless so getting a report from me doesn't significantly change their playing behavior.

    Thankfully, the majority of folks that get reports from me are working towards achieving a goal of moving up and use the reports to monitor progress towards such goals. Without a service like mine, players that aren't bumped up have no way of knowing if they have improved relative to their competition and NTRP level.

    Others use my reports to get a better understanding of their own team or scout opponents to try to get a competitive advantage, again the goal is to win, so I think this is another healthy use of ratings. Or captains may use ratings to recruit players for a team in order to try and make it as strong as possible, again the goal is winning.

    For those that obsess about their rating and what court they will play on or who they will play with, they are fooling themselves a bit as one can get high or low match ratings playing with strong partner or weak partners, or on any court, and there is no guarantee that an opposing team is going to play straight-up and that weak opponents will be on court 3. Again, I recommend that folks just go play their best and focus on winning the next point as not leaking games unnecessarily is often a bigger factor in one's rating than who they play with or against.

    Also, an obsession isn't always a bad thing. I've been told by some that league tennis was frustrating in the past with no reward or recognition for work to improve their game, and being able to monitor their rating and see more details about how they are doing and what works or doesn't work has increased interest in league tennis and caused them to play more.

    As the ranges for the NTRP levels are somewhat arbitrary, I've often thought the USTA should periodically, perhaps even each year, move the threshold between levels up or down 0.1 or 0.2 as this would be a way to thwart the sandbaggers by moving the target, and it would vary who the "best" at a level is each year and perhaps create a little more variety in who does well in playoffs.

    I'd also support changes to the algorithm to not reward tanking, as well as empowering section and league coordinators to weed out players and captains that are blatantly and repeatedly managing their ratings or have a history of team members doing so.

    I could write more, but I'll stop for now. I hope we aren't fighting @Cindysphinx !
     
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  5. travlerajm

    travlerajm Legend

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    That's actually a brilliant idea. I really like the idea of making the USTA dynamic ratings transparent at all times, but then randomly shift the boundaries between levels each year. That way everyone would always know where you (and your peers) rank on the skill level continuum, but you would also have no clue whether you will be starting next season at the top of the level or at the bottom of the level.

    I would guess that such a system might spark increased interest in league play.
     
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  6. schmke

    schmke Hall of Fame

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    I agree, but I guess I did come up with the idea ;-)

    But it comes with some challenges too. The big one being by effectively redefining a level, it more or less makes it so early start leagues won't really work or will have to endure major disruption and be at a significant disadvantage.
     
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  7. Bluefan75

    Bluefan75 Semi-Pro

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    Don't we have a current thread talking about how the existing system does exactly that? How would it be any worse?
     
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  8. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Love it, Cindy starts a fight with @schmke and @Startzel is like I got your back buddy and busts a whiskey bottle over Cindy's head.

    J
     
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  9. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

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    Given how typically wrong TR and TLS are for individual players, it's pretty ridiculous to even try to judge your chances of being bumped up or down by what they say. LOL.
     
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  10. kevrol

    kevrol Professional

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    While the ratings are fun to look at and I do check them much more than I should they all have a rather significant margin of error when it comes to putting a rating on an individual player. So while it's a fun diversion and might give you an accurate rating you always know that individual results may vary.
     
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  11. ChaelAZ

    ChaelAZ Hall of Fame

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    Same here. Many times I just wanna see what the guestimated match rating was. Overall I don't care much about it because given the time I can spend right now trying to improve in tennis, I am happy to bounce between competitive 4.0 or 3.5. When I retire in a few years, maybe I'll make that effort to play up to 4.5, but we'll see if I ever get that interested in the competitive aspect over the social/fun aspect. And maybe I just can't get that consistent or good, which is also okay.

    The beer all tastes the same on court after whatever level match I play. :cool:
     
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  12. Startzel

    Startzel Hall of Fame

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    I’ve captained many teams over the past two years including a team that won districts and I haven’t had a single player that knew about one of these websites.
     
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  13. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    I am positive people who tanked did so prior to these sites popping up.

    These sites are meaningless to thwart or increase tanking IMO. You will give 100% or not. You will tank or you won't. It's that simple.

    Schmke isn't the problem and TLS and TennisRecord simply aren't accurate. Those two sites overrate players in my area including myself and plenty of teammates, while Schmke had me and all but one of my teammates on the border staying put.

    We all knew two guys were gong to be bumped to 4.5, with another guy on the fence. Only 1 guy on the fence was bumped not 3 guys like TR forecast.
     
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  14. brettatk

    brettatk Rookie

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    I agree. The guys I see tank have always done it. I haven't really seen an increase since these sites came about. I'd say about half the guys I play with know about TR and/or TLS. Some guys have tried to use it as a way to say they deserve to play more or play in big matches because they have a higher rating than someone else.
     
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  15. Clintspin

    Clintspin Professional

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    As a coach, I think there are more positives to Schmke's "paid for" rating reports than negatives. I have seen the reports of some of my students. They may help them improve because they show weaknesses. You may see you are playing better singles than doubles or vice versa. You may see that certain partners align with you better than others in doubles. That may move you toward a more permanent doubles partner which I think is a good thing and any captain should welcome. You may find that you need to lay off of something for a rest, maybe skipping tri-level or combo. You may see how you are performing much better at a higher level which shows you enjoy better competition and need to get to that level, thus working on your game.

    I do agree many people spend too much time fretting about their rating.
     
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  16. atatu

    atatu Hall of Fame

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    Wait...I thought you said only men want to get bumped down and all the women are so honorable that all they want to do is get better and get moved up ? This thread seems to contradict that rather self-righteous position, doesn't it ?
     
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  17. OnTheLine

    OnTheLine Professional

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    I am going to agree with @Cindysphinx on a few points.

    Women are a little insane when it comes to watching TR "ratings". I play on women's leagues and play a mess of social scramblers with men. Women talk about these all the time. The men I know don't seem to even know about these sites, or they don't seem to care.

    The same comments Cindy mentions from her sister's team, I have heard them all as a captain. But I have heard some of the reverse, "I want to move up, so I want to be paired with the lowest ranked on the team and play on line 2" So, perhaps they just understand better how the algorithm may work, trying to lower their win likelihood and then beat the computer estimate.

    Regarding taking a lesson, I have heard the opposite as well. "So-and-So is higher ranked than I am so I need to take a lesson or two to get a higher ranking." Had one of my favorite club pros tell me that he is now hearing from new students a different reason why they are taking a private lesson. He used to hear: I need a better FH, BH, Serve, whatever. Now is hearing, I need to move my rating up .25.

    The past 30 days of chatter at the club and around the league about who is being bumped, who is better, etc. was deafening, and thankfully has ceased in the past week.

    All that being said, as a captain, I find TR exceptionally useful for creating lineups and reviewing both other teams any my own team. I can see an artificial number attached to certain pairings that sometimes validates what I see on the court, I can more easily review other team's previous lineups and overall court ratings. I know it is not true USTA rankings, but it is a relatively valid scale from which to work.

    I have never personally done an @schmke report, but from what I have seen, they are valuable and can assist us in our learning path both as a player and as a captain.

    Overall, I do not think that rating sites or reports ruins anything. I think it gives some relatively accurate (either relative to USTA or relative to itself) data from which players can evaluate themselves, create their own benchmarks, or as a captain work to put together a balanced team and lineup.

    But some folks seem to go a little nutty.
     
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  18. OnTheLine

    OnTheLine Professional

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    And no it doesn't at all. OP said quite specifically that these women are using these sites to try and move up and deriding those at lower "rankings".
     
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  19. atatu

    atatu Hall of Fame

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    "The result of this was that people had less incentive to and ability to manipulate their ratings. If you wanted to move down, say, you couldn't know how close you were to achieving your 'goal'."
     
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  20. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

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    The biggest problem I have seen is that some people, even captains, don't recognize that TR isn't an official dynamic rating. I've had captains say there is a new site where you can look up your official rating now. I'm like no, not exactly, LOL. These sites are fun to use, but you have to understand that they are not official and not guaranteed to be accurate or even close sometimes, so you can't take them seriously.
     
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  21. ChaelAZ

    ChaelAZ Hall of Fame

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    Could have just ended right there.


    *runs and ducks...*
     
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  22. ronray43

    ronray43 New User

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    On the singles side, at least in Southern Colorado, Tennis Record's dynamic ratings do a pretty good job of rack-and-stacking the players. So, if I have a match against someone with a dynamic rating close to mine, I know it'll be a close match. If I'm playing a top tier player, then I know chances are I'll lose, but if I can lose 6-7, 6-7, I'll know I had a good match. In short, for those not worried about advancing to districts, etc., the ratings sites make leagues more fun by tracking how you essentially cover the dynamic ratings spread for each match.
     
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  23. OnTheLine

    OnTheLine Professional

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    Exceptional choice, except I am very fast, and don't you have bad knees?
     
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  24. RyanRF

    RyanRF Semi-Pro

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    Every time I read stories like this it reaffirms my decision to stay away from USTA league tennis.
     
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  25. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    i think the ratings sites are great.
    i put my NTRP rating on my resume, out to the nearest ten thousandths.
    it's really important that people know exactly where i stand in the tennis universe.
    i used to have alot of friends to hang out with, go out for beers, etc... but now my circle of friends only extends 0.005 from my estimated arbitrary rating. coincidentally i have alot more alone time.
    i can now look at folks with disdain when my NTRP is bigger than their NTRP.
    my wife does not have an NTRP, we are getting a divorce
    my kids do not have an NTRP, i've disowned them.
    my dog does not have an NTRP, i've replaced his fetch toy from a tennis ball to a lacrosse ball.
    i'm thinking of getting my NTRP tatooed on my foot. why my foot, because i want to leave space on my body to add yearly ratings throughout my lifetime, and i fully expect my highest NTRP to be tatooed on my forehead.
     
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  26. ChaelAZ

    ChaelAZ Hall of Fame

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    I bet I can out pace you.
    Even for distance.
    Unless you are younger.
    Then, I'd still bet it. :p
     
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  27. mmk

    mmk Hall of Fame

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    Good news - as you get older, you have more forehead to tattoo.
     
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  28. OnTheLine

    OnTheLine Professional

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    More than likely. Sprinter in college, so for distance I am dead in the water. My best 400 time was 55.17 (yes I remember, really tried to crack below 55 and never could!), enough to qualify for Nats but not make it out of the semis .... but that is nearly 25 years ago.

    So depends on how motivated I am, you likely haven't pissed me off enough. ... and I am younger by a few ...;)
     
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  29. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    See where I wrote "say"?

    That was meant to suggest that this was a hypothetical person (of unstated gender) who wanted to move down.

    To be clear . . . I believe men are in general pleased to move down, and women are in general are pleased to move up.

    I received another invitation to join a 3.5 team last night. The captain wrote, "I hope you're not to bummed to have been moved down, but we'd love to have you on our 3.5 team!).

    If you are a woman who bumps down, you get anticipatory condolences.
     
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  30. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    damn that's fast.
    when i was doing 400's (in my 30's) i never broke 63 (coincidentally i read that andy murray used to do 10x400 @60s)
     
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  31. ChaelAZ

    ChaelAZ Hall of Fame

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    lol. I am to the age I have no clue what my run times were on track or for cross country. But as you mention, slow is less relevant than motivation, so I will only **** you off enough to keep you a few steps back. Then get in my house and scream for you yougin's to get off my lawn.
     
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  32. OnTheLine

    OnTheLine Professional

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    Please note, that time is fully tapered in advance of conference championships and at age 21, fully and properly coached. I have run with my daughter for her track prep, I can still do a 65 repeat X2 ... then it suddenly becomes 70+ on time #3 and then probably 100 on time #4, but I didn't attempt! :)

    10X400s training is brutal and can induce leaning over a trashcan recovery.
     
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  33. OnTheLine

    OnTheLine Professional

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    To add on to this ... as I have observed, few women who are bumped down choose to actually play down at the new lower level. Their ego just cannot handle playing at that lower level. They continue playing at their previous higher level.
     
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  34. jm1980

    jm1980 G.O.A.T.

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    Maybe the USTA could give you a little more feedback. Like after each match it could tell you whether you performed below or above the computer's expectations
     
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  35. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    you're still in damn good shape. my wife is probably running ~68 for 10 (200 meter walk between) now (ie. training for various running races)
     
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  36. OnTheLine

    OnTheLine Professional

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    That would be very cool and still wouldn't divulge the proprietary mystery of real NTRP.
     
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  37. OnTheLine

    OnTheLine Professional

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    Couldn't do 10 I don't think, not all at 68. That is quite good for a "real adult female" (e.g. over 40) shows fine endurance as well.

    In my mind, I am in the bare minimum shape I need to be to play tennis decently. I have a lot of room for improvement.
     
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  38. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    lol, "minimum shape"... most folks in the rec scene have no idea what a "400" is... and definitely do not spend time on fitness. (ie. they play tennis to get into shape, vs. get in shape to play tennis).
    what level do you play at? i imagine you'd be able to grind your way to 4.5 just on fitness alone (ie. make every point last 10 strokes per person)
     
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  39. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Yup. That is definitely the case. Whenever a teammate dropped to 3.5, it was considered a huge slap in the face if she was not invited to continue on the 4.0 team. I don't recall ever dropping a player for that reason.

    Why am I not playing 4.0? Several reasons.

    First, I do believe people should play their level. I wasn't even winning games at 4.0, so I was not competitive. It is not fair to competitors to show up at 4.0 and get a 45-minute match against a 3.5 who cannot compete.

    Second, my phone is not ringing off the hook with offers to play 4.0. Not one team has invited me -- they have eyes and can see my record. Now, I could probably get on a 4.0 team that would be a bunch of 3.5s playing up. But I only want to do one team, and I do not want to play matches where I lose -0 -1 in 45 minutes (see above).

    Also, it is hard to get partners on a 4.0 team. Even when the ladies are not obsessed with their ratings, they do not want their match to become Xtreme Keep-away where opponents send everything to the 3.5 player.

    I think there is some chance I will find 3.5 boring -- the endless lob wars do get old, and I don't remember that happening as much at 4.0. If that happens in this winter season, maybe I will go looking for a 4.0 ladies or mixed team. It seems premature to consider that when I cannot even be sure at the moment that I could win at 3.5.
     
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  40. OnTheLine

    OnTheLine Professional

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    Interesting fantasy 4.5 LOL. That seems like another world to me.

    I am a middling 3.5 player ... was rated as a 4.0 and then 4.5 back in the visual rating clinic days in the mid-90s, but it didn't mean I could win at those levels. (and I didn't)

    Technique, tennisIQ, shot selection, consistency all have little to do with fitness. Fitness I think can enhance your techniques and tennis-capabilities and it has likely had me hang in a match and maybe even win a few where the opponent was a better player technique wise, especially in the 2nd set and a tie breaker. But I am a lousy pusher as I am too impatient to allow my fitness level to really help me. (working on it!)

    At near 50yo now, having only been back to tennis a little over 1.5 years, I have little chance at cracking into 4.5. I think I can get to 4.0 in a few years and that is my long term goal.
     
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  41. schmke

    schmke Hall of Fame

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    We have a sprinter in the house!
     
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  42. OnTheLine

    OnTheLine Professional

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    Nope. Middle distance. Lousy first step or out of the block ... would (and did) get dusted in a 40 or 100 meter, but don't let me catch you on the turn ... :cool:
     
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  43. schmke

    schmke Hall of Fame

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    400 is a sprint in my book, now if you ran the 800 ...
     
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  44. OnTheLine

    OnTheLine Professional

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    best 800 time was in HS was in the low 2:20s. Good enough to place at HS levels, not for college ... that is a race from hell. Hate and despise it.
     
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  45. schmke

    schmke Hall of Fame

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    The fact you hate and despise it makes you a sprinter. Ok, most middle distance folks don't like it either ...
     
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  46. atatu

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    So your criticisms of the ratings sites are based entirely on hypotheticals ? I think your generalizations are not particularly accurate as far as men go, you're talking about a small group of players who generate a lot of discussion on this board. In my experience, and I've been playing USTA leagues for over 20 years, most men who play USTA don't really care one way or the other, but feel free to continue generalizing about an entire group of people if you wish.
     
    #46
  47. It blows my mind that there is such a thing as "sandbagging" or people scheming and endeavouring to go DOWN.

    It is completely alien to my mind, isn't getting better and better the whole point? I'd kill to be able to play in a league of 5.0 players, I'd be crushed repeatedly but would develop super fast, it would be awesome.
     
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  48. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    No, my criticisms are not based "entirely on hypotheticals." That is quite a leap you made there.

    My criticism is based on my observations about how the ratings site have affected the attitudes of some players. There is a difference between an observation and a hypothetical. I used the hypothetical sentence you quoted so that people could follow my train of thought. Apparently, that didn't work for everyone!

    Seriously, you are right about my stereotyping men and women in my posts about their feelings about being moved up or down. Guilty as charged.

    For women, my observations are based on a decade of captaining and playing primarily with women. On the Line has seen the same thing, but maybe some other ladies will weigh in.

    For men, my much more limited observations are based on playing mixed, but mostly I have just absorbed what the men on this male-dominated board say. I can also note that I have had many women express elation or anxiety about their rating bumps, but I have never had a male mixed teammate even bring the subject up.
     
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    #48
  49. OnTheLine

    OnTheLine Professional

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    #49
  50. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
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    15,485
    I understand it in a way and don't in a way.

    Yes, getting better and better is the point. The trouble is, this is not possible. Everyone on the planet reaches a plateau where you cannot get any better for any number of reasons (e.g. insufficient time available for practice, age, injury). I had great fun reaching my plateau of 4.0 -- wouldn't trade it for anything.

    But once you start to lose it and drift back down, well, that is no fun at all. For me, the worst part wasn't the expedited beat-downs, although that was pretty awful. It was the huge frustration of not being able to execute a shot that I used to own that would be perfect for the situation -- the kind of shots that did help me win at 4.0 a few years ago. I mean, if you never had a shot, you aren't frustrated when you cannot execute the shot in a match. But owning a shot and having it fail you due to atrophy . . . Oh, that is awful.

    That said -- lose on purpose to get bumped down so you can smoke weaker players? That is gross, lame, and ignorant. Giving your best effort but getting bumped down and playing that level because you simply can't win any games no matter how hard you try? Perfectly acceptable IMHO.
     
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