Response to NRTP grievance request

grad_1

New User
I'm in my 2nd year of USTA league play at the 2.5 level, and had a match against an extremely strong self-rated player. I asked where she had played to get so good, and she kind of looked anxious at this question. She said she had just played pick-up games, which I found pretty hard to believe. Google shows she played varsity high school tennis, and she is less than 28 years old. This puts her at a minimum 3.0, our local USTA office confirmed this. I brought the situation to the attention of my team captain, and asked her to file a grievance, I've had several matches against folks who appear to be playing down, and it's frustrating as I want to play against folks at my own level.

I was pretty surprised at my captain's reaction. She said she had checked with some "seasoned USTA professionals", and their collective opinion was that nobody wins from filing a grievance. She thought that I should just move on. This USTA professional apparently said something like, "well, maybe it was a small school and the team wasn't that good."

I was outraged. To get a 2.5 rating, my opponent had to have lied on her self-rate questionnaire, as she did not have an adjusted rating. I was pretty shocked that a USTA pro would not have supported the notion of filing a grievance. If the person's high school team wasn't that good, they should have followed the process and gotten an adjustment. I believe I have every right to ask for a grievance.

What do other folks think? I am wondering what I am missing. Is there really that much ill will created by filing a grievance? I myself am considering the ill will created by dishonesty in self-rating, and the fact that we pay to be in USTA leagues and thus should have some reasonable expectation the the USTA pros support enforcing their own rules.

FYI, I ended up reaching out the the section coordinator, who is going to look into this and is willing to file a grievance if warranted. I hated having to go to that extreme, as I disliked going over my captain's head. However, it's getting to the point where the matches are not any fun, as I feel like I'm in a 3.0 league. If there was an option for me to play down, I would, but 2.5 is as low as it goes.
 

IA-SteveB

Hall of Fame
Seems like you have a lot of time invested in this already. Stuff like this happens and I would just move on. It is just rec tennis after all. Just my opinion. It was one match.
 

esgee48

Legend
If she won because of your unforced errors, then the point is moot. If she won by hitting winners or hit shots that forced you into an error, then maybe. Dinks and other short soft shots are not winners. You just were not in condition or position to get to the ball. What I find unreasonable is if this is your second season of USTA League, why are you still at 2.5?
 

undecided

Rookie
Yeah, maybe she played only one year, maybe she was benched, who knows. 2.5 includes players up to 2.99 which theoretically are close to skill to 3.0 - 3.10 or so. So, I would not be too upset. Maybe she is a strong 2.5, weak 3.0
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
What I find unreasonable is if this is your second season of USTA League, why are you still at 2.5?
There are a lot of ladies that take up tennis as the first sport they every played. Not sure if that's the case of the OP. It's not atypical for females to linger at 2.5 for a year or two.

For the OP I see nothing wrong with going over your captains head. But then again I can't stand people that don't follow rules, like the player in question. Maybe it was intentional, maybe it wasn't. Fact is she should have rated at 3.0.
 

grad_1

New User
What I find unreasonable is if this is your second season of USTA League, why are you still at 2.5?
First of all, ouch!! Second, I would argue it is precisely because there have been so many folks in the USTA leagues I've been in who appear to either be playing down, or else who are at the top of the ratings. I have not played in a ton of USTA league games, so that contributes. I probably played in 9 USTA matches last year. Of the 6 or so I lost, every single opponent was moved up to 3.0 in the year-end computerized ratings. So I lost a lot, to folks who were at the top of the level. One of them played high school tennis, and another was a 3.0 who had gotten and adjustment to 2.5 due to injury.

In contrast, I played about 15 matches in the past year at a private club in a 2.5 singles league. I finished in 2nd place. At that club, you had to go to a rating clinic before signing up, unless you have a USTA computerized rating. And I can tell you, the latter league was much more fun. The games were long as opponents were more evenly matched. I have been using this league as a guide for what a 2.5 player truly looks like, and if you compare the folks in that league to the videos the USTA puts out showing a 2.5 player, they are similar. You would be hard pressed to make a video of of most of the folks I have lost to in USTA play and convince anybody that they were a 2.5 player. I am also tired of people saying, "maybe they just had a spectacular match". Folks, you don't have a power serve with beautiful technique, hit with top spin consistently, or get winner at the net every time you are there at 2.5. But that's what I see from USTA opponents at 2.5 quite frequently.

Part of why I am pursuing a grievance is because I doubt I will ever move up if folks keep playing down. I am trying really hard, and it is disheartening. I am in excellent physical shape and regularly bike over 50 miles in one day. This is the first time I"ve played a hand/eye coordination sport, so I have a lot to learn, but I am not awful.
 

grad_1

New User
Yeah, maybe she played only one year, maybe she was benched, who knows. 2.5 includes players up to 2.99 which theoretically are close to skill to 3.0 - 3.10 or so. So, I would not be too upset. Maybe she is a strong 2.5, weak 3.0
However, the USTA NRTP self-rating questionnaire asks, "Did you play tennis in high school?" If you answer yes, you are automatically a 3.0. Are you suggesting it was OK for her to lie if she was benched, only played one year, etc? If that was the case, there is a process for that: request an adjustment to your rating from the USTA. She did not do that.
 
First of all, ouch!! Second, I would argue it is precisely because there have been so many folks in the USTA leagues I've been in who appear to either be playing down, or else who are at the top of the ratings. I have not played in a ton of USTA league games, so that contributes. I probably played in 9 USTA matches last year. Of the 6 or so I lost, every single opponent was moved up to 3.0 in the year-end computerized ratings. So I lost a lot, to folks who were at the top of the level. One of them played high school tennis, and another was a 3.0 who had gotten and adjustment to 2.5 due to injury.

In contrast, I played about 15 matches in the past year at a private club in a 2.5 singles league. I finished in 2nd place. At that club, you had to go to a rating clinic before signing up, unless you have a USTA computerized rating. And I can tell you, the latter league was much more fun. The games were long as opponents were more evenly matched. I have been using this league as a guide for what a 2.5 player truly looks like, and if you compare the folks in that league to the videos the USTA puts out showing a 2.5 player, they are similar. You would be hard pressed to make a video of of most of the folks I have lost to in USTA play and convince anybody that they were a 2.5 player. I am also tired of people saying, "maybe they just had a spectacular match". Folks, you don't have a power serve with beautiful technique, hit with top spin consistently, or get winner at the net every time you are there at 2.5. But that's what I see from USTA opponents at 2.5 quite frequently.

Part of why I am pursuing a grievance is because I doubt I will ever move up if folks keep playing down. I am trying really hard, and it is disheartening. I am in excellent physical shape and regularly bike over 50 miles in one day. This is the first time I"ve played a hand/eye coordination sport, so I have a lot to learn, but I am not awful.
You are in the right as far as the self-rated opponent goes. And why have the rules if they aren't going to be enforced? The league probably doesn't want to alienate a player, not realizing that they might be alienating others.

But try to separate that from the actual tennis: you are getting great competition in the first league and considerably less in the second league. What's better for your long-term improvement? And if all of your losses in the first league were to players who got moved up, that should be reflected in your rating going up as well [you could have @schmke run a personalized report on your progress. You could also look yourself up on myutr.com.]. The problem is that USTA doesn't publish anything more accurate than 2.5: you could have gone from 2.1 to 2.4.

If you're getting double bagelled every time out, I can see how this would be discouraging. But if you're at least staying on the court with them, that first league will contribute more than the second.

I don't run into sandbaggers that often. When I do, I use it as an opportunity to test myself against a next-level opponent. How else am I going to get a chance like that?
 
Part of why I am pursuing a grievance is because I doubt I will ever move up if folks keep playing down. I am trying really hard, and it is disheartening. I am in excellent physical shape and regularly bike over 50 miles in one day. This is the first time I"ve played a hand/eye coordination sport, so I have a lot to learn, but I am not awful.
I'd focus less on your W/L record and more on your improvement process: what do you have to do to improve?
- Fewer UEs [most matches are lost via UEs, not won via winners]
- Better mental toughness
- Better shot tolerance
- Better shot selection
- Reading the opponent better
- Improving the 2 most important shots: serve and return
- getting good coaching and practicing what you're learning
- etc.

FYI: good HEC is more important than biking 50 miles/day. Distance biking will help your slow twitch endurance muscles but do little for your fast twitch explosive ones. Tennis is a balance of both, with the emphasis on fast twitch [unless you're a grinder who plays 2+ hour matches]. I'd emphasize the long bike rides less and the HEC exercises more...a lot more.

Stick with it! I think you'll be glad you did.
 

grad_1

New User
You are in the right as far as the self-rated opponent goes. And why have the rules if they aren't going to be enforced? The league probably doesn't want to alienate a player, not realizing that they might be alienating others.

But try to separate that from the actual tennis: you are getting great competition in the first league and considerably less in the second league. What's better for your long-term improvement? And if all of your losses in the first league were to players who got moved up, that should be reflected in your rating going up as well [you could have @schmke run a personalized report on your progress. You could also look yourself up on myutr.com.]. The problem is that USTA doesn't publish anything more accurate than 2.5: you could have gone from 2.1 to 2.4.

If you're getting double bagelled every time out, I can see how this would be discouraging. But if you're at least staying on the court with them, that first league will contribute more than the second.

I don't run into sandbaggers that often. When I do, I use it as an opportunity to test myself against a next-level opponent. How else am I going to get a chance like that?
Thank you for the encouragement! It does make sense to get what you can from every match. I think I came into the current session with expectations of winning more, as I've played a lot more now. However, I should realize that I can't control who chooses to sign up for the league at this level, and to focus on my own game.
 

grad_1

New User
I'd focus less on your W/L record and more on your improvement process: what do you have to do to improve?

FYI: good HEC is more important than biking 50 miles/day. Distance biking will help your slow twitch endurance muscles but do little for your fast twitch explosive ones. Tennis is a balance of both, with the emphasis on fast twitch [unless you're a grinder who plays 2+ hour matches]. I'd emphasize the long bike rides less and the HEC exercises more...a lot more.

Stick with it! I think you'll be glad you did.
Thank you, this is great advice! I agree with you, I think I need to begin focusing on some areas to improve in my own game, and focus less on my opponent.

I also really like what you said about HEC. I really enjoy biking for relaxing, seeing great scenery, and for building endurance. But I am really liking and am intrigued by the HEC and the mental aspects of the tennis game. It is something I really want to stick with. I think I need to add more instruction and drills to the mix.
 
Thank you, this is great advice! I agree with you, I think I need to begin focusing on some areas to improve in my own game, and focus less on my opponent.

I also really like what you said about HEC. I really enjoy biking for relaxing, seeing great scenery, and for building endurance. But I am really liking and am intrigued by the HEC and the mental aspects of the tennis game. It is something I really want to stick with. I think I need to add more instruction and drills to the mix.
If you can bike 50 miles/day, you don't have any problems with endurance [unless you're training for centuries or triathlons]. No problem with using them for relaxation and enjoyment; just know that you've long passed the point of diminishing returns insofar as your tennis game goes.

Lessons, drills, practice, and match play are where you need to shift your focus and energy, IMO.
 

schmke

Hall of Fame
Part of why I am pursuing a grievance is because I doubt I will ever move up if folks keep playing down. I am trying really hard, and it is disheartening. I am in excellent physical shape and regularly bike over 50 miles in one day. This is the first time I"ve played a hand/eye coordination sport, so I have a lot to learn, but I am not awful.
In general, if you are playing self-rated players, losses against them aren't going to hurt your rating unless you do worse against them than other players do. And like @S&V-not_dead_yet said, if they are all bumped up, it appears they were "supposed" to beat you so the loss was expected.

Like others have said, this can actually be an opportunity to test yourself against a stronger player, and perhaps even show you can play with them. Even if you lose, if it is a close loss and the self-rated player is beating other players at your level a lot worse, the loss could even help your rating. The reports I do can help shed more light on this if you are interested.
 
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undecided

Rookie
However, the USTA NRTP self-rating questionnaire asks, "Did you play tennis in high school?" If you answer yes, you are automatically a 3.0. Are you suggesting it was OK for her to lie if she was benched, only played one year, etc? If that was the case, there is a process for that: request an adjustment to your rating from the USTA. She did not do that.
My advice is not to worry about it. Like others said, work on your game, the wins will come. Also, playing against a better player makes you a better player. I would actually welcome playing against higher ranked players unless of course they are so far superior that I get double bagelled. Even then I enjoy it. I lost 6-0,6-0 to 5.0 ranked player a few months ago but I got to some deuce/ad games had Bps, etc. It was intense. I was disappointed in my performance but I recognize how much more work there is. I think the work is endless. It will never stop.
 

Max G.

Legend
Part of why I am pursuing a grievance is because I doubt I will ever move up if folks keep playing down.
Ok, so is it just me, or is this quote really weird? grad_1, take a second look at what you've written here.

Presumably, the main reason to get moved up is to get better competition, to play against 3.0 players. Except when you think 3.0 players are "playing down", instead of being excited that you get to play them, you're annoyed!
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
One thing that I think would be a good thing to bear in mind is that the learning rate for the 2.5 player can be very fast for some and longer for others.

We have a robust 2.5 league here and typically a player will stay there for 1, max 2, full rating seasons. Those who have played other sports (e.g. soccer, basketball, softball, volleyball ...) tend to move up much more quickly than those who have never played a ball sport.

If you are seeing them at the end of that first season, they may look more like a 3.0 player than they did at the beginning of the season and you may think they are somehow cheating when in fact they are simply improving.

In the case of the person who had played in HS, yeah, she probably doesn't belong at 2.5 ... but really, is it worth the grievance fee?

At higher levels for the most part the computer sorts out any of these issues.
 

roadto50

New User
Folks, you don't have a power serve with beautiful technique, hit with top spin consistently, or get winner at the net every time you are there at 2.5. But that's what I see from USTA opponents at 2.5 quite frequently.

Part of why I am pursuing a grievance is because I doubt I will ever move up if folks keep playing down. I am trying really hard, and it is disheartening. I am in excellent physical shape and regularly bike over 50 miles in one day. This is the first time I"ve played a hand/eye coordination sport, so I have a lot to learn, but I am not awful.
How are the 2.5s who get bumped up to 3.0 doing at the 3.0 level? If they are legit cleaning the field even at 3.0, then yea I think you might have a point. Because they are probably closer to 3.5 and it's not really fun playing someone who is a full level above you. With that said, if these newly bumped 3.0s are struggling at 3.0, then they are just really top 2.5 players. And if you can't beat top 2.5 players, why do you think you should move up?
 

grad_1

New User
How are the 2.5s who get bumped up to 3.0 doing at the 3.0 level? If they are legit cleaning the field even at 3.0, then yea I think you might have a point. Because they are probably closer to 3.5 and it's not really fun playing someone who is a full level above you. With that said, if these newly bumped 3.0s are struggling at 3.0, then they are just really top 2.5 players. And if you can't beat top 2.5 players, why do you think you should move up?
This is a good question. First, the person in question with regards to the grievance. I believe she played at a level even above 3.0. I played her as best I could, but I lost 0-6, 0-6, and I believe I might not have even won 10 points in the entire match. It was probably over in 30 minutes. I've never lost by that much, even with folks who I played last year who moved up to 3.0, I would win 3-5 games, and certainly won more than 10 points in matches with them. And you folks have reminded me that I actually do get * a lot* out of the matches with folks at the top of my level. They challenge me, and I have definitely have had fun playing with many of them, and even have done practice matches with some as I did improve from playing with them. On the other hand, the gal with regards to the grievance, it was tough to get much out of it as she was sooo much better than me.

You are right, if I can't beat the folks at 2.5, I should not think about moving up. I think sometimes I get questions from folks like someone posed earlier on this forum, "if you've already played a year in 2.5, how come you haven't moved up?". When I get questions like this, honestly, it makes me feel bad, and it also then makes me look at who I am playing rather than focusing on what I am doing to improve.

I thank everybody who has responded to this post, as you have really helped me think about my game in a different light. Going forward, I am going to rededicate myself to focusing on my own game and what I can improve. Since I have only a set amount of time for tennis, I am going to try and spend some time in league play, and the rest in lessons or drills. I'm at the point where I need to start developing some various aspects of my game to improve. Thanks again for all who have provided your perspective.
 

grad_1

New User
One thing that I think would be a good thing to bear in mind is that the learning rate for the 2.5 player can be very fast for some and longer for others.

We have a robust 2.5 league here and typically a player will stay there for 1, max 2, full rating seasons. Those who have played other sports (e.g. soccer, basketball, softball, volleyball ...) tend to move up much more quickly than those who have never played a ball sport.

If you are seeing them at the end of that first season, they may look more like a 3.0 player than they did at the beginning of the season and you may think they are somehow cheating when in fact they are simply improving.

In the case of the person who had played in HS, yeah, she probably doesn't belong at 2.5 ... but really, is it worth the grievance fee?

At higher levels for the most part the computer sorts out any of these issues.
The person in question with regards to the grievance has only played 3 USTA matches ever, and TennisRecord already shows her at 2.54, with meter showing her at the top end of 'very high'. So in this case, it is somebody who certainly came in with some skills.

I agree very much about folks improving a lot at 2.5. There was a gal in my private club league who was truly a 2.5 at the beginning of the year, who won the championship. She had played soccer in college and hockey in high school, and was about 24 years old. And I was super happy for her, as she did a fantastic job on her game. Some other folks took beaucoup lessons during the year and played a few times a week, and they also improved considerably. It was actually really cool.

I am glad to hear that at the higher levels the computer sorts out the issues. I also have done a lot of thinking, and for some reason, I really have been getting too worried about who I am playing, and not focusing enough on how to improve my own game, and having fun. Thanks for helping me adjust my thinking.
 

dsp9753

Rookie
One thing I don't think anyone has mentioned is that filing a grievance costs money. Its $50. If you win your grievance, you get $50 back. I can only guess at the purpose but its probably to prevent USTA being inundated with frivolous grievances. Your captain probably doesn't want to risk wasting $50 if they aren't 100% sure they are going to win.

Fortunately for you, you can file the grievance yourself instead of relying upon your captain.
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
One thing I don't think anyone has mentioned is that filing a grievance costs money. Its $50. If you win your grievance, you get $50 back. I can only guess at the purpose but its probably to prevent USTA being inundated with frivolous grievances. Your captain probably doesn't want to risk wasting $50 if they aren't 100% sure they are going to win.

Fortunately for you, you can file the grievance yourself instead of relying upon your captain.
Depends on which section you are in. Some charge money, some don't. In Southern it's actually $100.
 

am1899

Hall of Fame
I witnessed a similar circumstance play out locally. I’m going to leave out some details, in an effort to protect the anonymity of those involved. But suffice to say...a player who had no business playing at a particular level, self-rated at that level and then smoked a computer rated player in their opening match. An NTRP grievance was filed by the captain of the player who got smoked. USTA denied the grievance, even though it was shown that the player answered incorrectly (or dishonestly) multiple times on their self rate questionnaire. USTA sectional grievance committee claimed that if the player had answered correctly, the rating the player was playing at is what the computer would have spit out at the conclusion of self rate questionnaire. (This assertion is very much at odds with NTRP guidelines). All the while, anybody in town who knows this player, and who is in a position to assess skill level (coaches, etc.) knows this player is inappropriately rated.

My experience with this one is (among other things) captains of players who encounter a player like this in a match are put in a tough position. In this case, the captain’s player got steam rolled by someone who the majority of players in town feel is not appropriately rated. The player who got steam rolled lets their captain know that having to play this player in the first place is BS, and maybe they’ll just quit the team. Captain then has to decide to either grieve the player in question, or let it go and risk losing that player and maybe some respect of the rest of players on the roster.

The lesson I learned watching all of this...even if you’re sure you have your ducks in a row and you think you can prove unequivocally that a player is sand bagging, it is quite an uphill battle to getting USTA to sustain an NTRP grievance- regardless of the quality of your evidence.
 

darkhorse

Semi-Pro
It's best to just move on in this case. What is really accomplished if you end up winning the grievance? You still lost the match and the player will end up in the same spot she would likely be anyway in a few months when new ratings come out (assuming she doesn't just get DQ'd sooner). I get the frustration but unless there's some pattern from that particular team I don't really think it's worth it to dwell on it. Fact is that you have no idea what this person's history is, so there may be a good reason why she thought she should be at 2.5. Skill variation is something you'll encounter at every level of USTA.
 

roadto50

New User
I played her as best I could, but I lost 0-6, 0-6, and I believe I might not have even won 10 points in the entire match. It was probably over in 30 minutes. I've never lost by that much, even with folks who I played last year who moved up to 3.0, I would win 3-5 games, and certainly won more than 10 points in matches with them.
I think scores like this are more prevalent at the lower ratings because the gap between a player's weakness and strength can be pretty big. So if your weakness happens to play into your opponent's strength, a double bagel is certainly not out of question because the relative advantage is magnified. As you go up the ratings, that gap begins to converge to the point where players don't really have any true weaknesses. Rarely do you see double bagels at the 4.5 / 5.0 level unless it's something like a 4.5 playing a 5.5 in #1 singles.

Anyways, I am glad you decided to focus on your game. You can't control who you play, but you can control your own game. GL!
 
Grievance rules only allow captains, coordinators, or member of a championship committee to file.

Any team captain considering filing an NTRP grievance must always reflect on whether they live in a glass house. Teams that habitually are in the running to advance, usually do.
 
I think scores like this are more prevalent at the lower ratings because the gap between a player's weakness and strength can be pretty big. So if your weakness happens to play into your opponent's strength, a double bagel is certainly not out of question because the relative advantage is magnified. As you go up the ratings, that gap begins to converge to the point where players don't really have any true weaknesses. Rarely do you see double bagels at the 4.5 / 5.0 level unless it's something like a 4.5 playing a 5.5 in #1 singles.
Even at the 4.5 level between two non-sandbagging opponents there are still quite a few lopsided results. According to anecdotes, it's not at all surprising for someone at the top of a level to double bagel someone at the bottom of the same level. I got double breadsticked by someone who, according to TR, was only 15 points higher than I. And, in turn, I've double-breadsticked lower 4.5s three times this year.

That's not counting the # of times when the first set was won big by A and the 2nd set was won big by B. Or A barely wins one set and dominates in the other.

We at the rec level are just too random to produce expected results all of the time.

Anyways, I am glad you decided to focus on your game. You can't control who you play, but you can control your own game. GL!
+100!
 

grad_1

New User
Thanks again to all who have responded to this thread. I've had much more fun with my matches in the last week, you've all helped me refocus on my own game, and I thank you for that. Part of the learning for me, I've realized, is not just about the tennis strokes and strategy, but how to think about situations like this. I sure admire all who shared advice.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Thanks again to all who have responded to this thread. I've had much more fun with my matches in the last week, you've all helped me refocus on my own game, and I thank you for that. Part of the learning for me, I've realized, is not just about the tennis strokes and strategy, but how to think about situations like this. I sure admire all who shared advice.
That is awesome to hear. This can be a wonderful period of time for you to really enjoy the growth and improvement you will see if you focus on your own game, skills, etc. and totally ignore the ratings drama!
 

GatorTennis

Rookie
In my opinion, this has led to some of the USTA league participation dropping in some areas. Certain captains will do this over and over with no consequence. Many times, they want the player to get adult matches in, so they are clean for mixed. I know in my area that participation is way down, but clubs are always slammed with their own socials. Actual tennis is as busy as ever, just not the leagues.
 
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