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- Thread starter schmke
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Honestly I don't even like mixed very much.. 90% of the time the winning strategy is to pick on the woman. I am playing this year as favour to my captain - who also does the men's teams. But I could just as well leave it.

Women generally play so differently. I played a friendly mixed match against a 4.5 women/3.5 man. Nice enough player - but so different then a 4.0 man. All finesse - very little power.. THrow in the fact that women really really like the same sex bonding stuff. I just dont' think UTR will happen..

Maybe they can try it in flex or something.. I dunno..

I took a look at how many players are playing Adult leagues (advancing 18+, 40+, 55+, 65+) and it does appear there has been a small decline the past few years. From my analysis there were just over 2% fewer players in these leagues this year compared with 2013.

See http://computerratings.blogspot.com/2015/12/2013-2015-usta-league-participation-by.html for more details.

I wonder if you take into account that with more different leagues in many cases you have the same players playing in multiple divisions that it really means that WAY LESS people are actually involved in League Tennis. The USTA is probably happy because they make more money on the same people, but it's not exactly "growing the game" if this is true. (the whole point of these leagues when they were formed was to get more people involved with tennis)

The link you mentioned was looking at total participation in the 18+, 40+, 55+, and 65+ leagues. I wrote a separate blog entry breaking out 18+, 40+, and 55+ and you can see that at http://computerratings.blogspot.com/2015/12/2013-2015-usta-league-participation-by_20.html.I wonder if you take into account that with more different leagues in many cases you have the same players playing in multiple divisions that it really means that WAY LESS people are actually involved in League Tennis. The USTA is probably happy because they make more money on the same people, but it's not exactly "growing the game" if this is true. (the whole point of these leagues when they were formed was to get more people involved with tennis)

UTR rating isn't going to work. Call it genitals or whatever - but most guys don't go into sports to beat up on women. Likewise plenty of women don't want to deal with aggressive hard hitting (but wild) men - even if they are equivalent in skill level..

Who said anything about "beating up on women?" In the UTR system, the women would just as frequently beat up on the men as the other way around because ... wait for it ... all players within a level would be competitive with one another.

And the women who don't want to play with men (and men who don't want to play with women) wouldn't necessarily have to. There is nothing to prevent the establishment of men-only and women-only league formats.

Sure a 3.5 women can beat a 3.0 man sometimes. But they can't hit overheads that can injure people - a man can..

You do realize that some men hit harder than other men, right? I wouldn't say I hit an overhead hard enough to hurt anyone (usually), and I'm a 4.0. Plus, I've played plenty of MxD matches against women who hit the ball plenty hard enough to hurt me if it hit me.

The link you mentioned was looking at total participation in the 18+, 40+, 55+, and 65+ leagues. I wrote a separate blog entry breaking out 18+, 40+, and 55+ and you can see that at http://computerratings.blogspot.com/2015/12/2013-2015-usta-league-participation-by_20.html.

My point is that the leagues stats that they brag about usually, do not account for the fact that many players play in multiple leagues. And given that if the numbers that are broken out in groups and added together show less participation, then the REAL number of players who are actually involved AT ALL are actually even less.

My feeling is the breakout of multiple leagues with shorter seasons and less players is actually having the effect of having less people involved in tennis which is kind of the opposite of why they created these leagues in the first place.

I would agree with this, based purely on anecdotal experience here in Norcal.My feeling is the breakout of multiple leagues with shorter seasons and less players is actually having the effect of having less people involved in tennis which is kind of the opposite of why they created these leagues in the first place.

There are some players who are gung-ho about USTA and are now participating in the multiple leagues - people, do we really need regular, 40+, and 55+ mixed?!?

But as a result the season for what many consider the 'main' league that they care most about (regular adult) has been shortened, and this has turned some long time players off.

Overall I think there is more participation if you're counting by person-on-team sign-up. But possibly less unique players overall as some players are turning away from USTA completely.

You should make the women bar on your graph something other than white.I just did some of the same analysis adding in 2016. The overall decline continued, but I took at look at some sections and some were down a bunch (Southern) while there was some growth in a few (Southern Cal and Pacific Northwest).

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It is pink, and it shows up distinct for me, but I'll make it darker in the future. Thanks for the feedback.You should make the women bar on your graph something other than white.

So is the best strategy to put your best 2 players at singles, giving you a strong shot at 2 wins and only needing 1 of 3 doubles courts to take the match? It seems like, since a singles win counts equally to a doubles win, stacking your singles courts with your best players is the most high yield strategy. That seems better than wasting your 2 best players by playing them as a pair in doubles (netting only one win) or diluting them by pairing them with lower partners that can be targeted and thereby nullifying the influence of the better player (similar to mixed doubles).

So is the best strategy to put your best 2 players at singles, giving you a strong shot at 2 wins and only needing 1 of 3 doubles courts to take the match? It seems like, since a singles win counts equally to a doubles win, stacking your singles courts with your best players is the most high yield strategy. That seems better than wasting your 2 best players by playing them as a pair in doubles (netting only one win) or diluting them by pairing them with lower partners that can be targeted and thereby nullifying the influence of the better player (similar to mixed doubles).

We lost our Sectionals final in 2015 by playing our best 2 guys at singles. Then we lost all 3 doubles lines. Had we known the other teams lineup beforehand, we would have played a different lineup but who knows if that would have worked out.

We lost our Sectionals final in 2015 by playing our best 2 guys at singles. Then we lost all 3 doubles lines. Had we known the other teams lineup beforehand, we would have played a different lineup but who knows if that would have worked out.

I believe you. And I'm sure that there are exceptions, like yours, that come down to match ups. But it just seems like, if a team sweeps singles, they will win the match almost always. In your case, the rule applied to your opponent. They swept singles and therefore won the match.

I think that what happens on many USTA teams is that the better players want to play doubles so they are less likely to get bumped. So singles becomes a throw-away court. But teams need to start seeing it as a path to victory. Too much can go wrong in doubles. If you have two rock solid singles players, you are good as gold.

I think you misunderstood. Mikeler's team played their strong players in singles and won those courts but lost all three doubles. So, the opponents did the opposite - loaded up the doubles courts because there are 3 of them instead of 2. USTA matches (at least mens leagues) are won and lost in doubles. The best way to build a strong team is to have people who are good doubles players, understand doubles, and like to play doubles. Plenty of teams have great singles players, but far fewer have doubles specialists even though there are more doubles lines in every match.I believe you. And I'm sure that there are exceptions, like yours, that come down to match ups. But it just seems like, if a team sweeps singles, they will win the match almost always. In your case, the rule applied to your opponent. They swept singles and therefore won the match.

I think that what happens on many USTA teams is that the better players want to play doubles so they are less likely to get bumped. So singles becomes a throw-away court. But teams need to start seeing it as a path to victory. Too much can go wrong in doubles. If you have two rock solid singles players, you are good as gold.

As far as whether your "best" players should always play singles, it depends on the relative strengths of your players. The people who are relatively better at doubles should play doubles and those who are relatively better at singles should play singles regardless of where they land in the overall ranking on your team.

For 2015 championship year matches in 18+ and 40+ where the format was 2 singles and 3 doubles, 5.9% of matches were won 3-2 winning the doubles and losing the singles.

USTA matches (at least mens leagues) are won and lost in doubles.

That is certainly the conventional wisdom. However, as schmke's post above shows, it is uncommon/rare to win both singles courts and lose the match. Mikeler's situation was a rare event according to the data. It appears on the surface that the most certain way to win a USTA league match is to sweep the singles courts, because then you have a 94% chance of winning the match.

You are right, you can't argue with the data. But you also need to be careful looking atThat is certainly the conventional wisdom. However, as schmke's post above shows, it is uncommon/rare to win both singles courts and lose the match. Mikeler's situation was a rare event according to the data. It appears on the surface that the most certain way to win a USTA league match is to sweep the singles courts, because then you have a 94% chance of winning the match.

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You don't have to sweep the doubles every match, but if you win the doubles (either 2-1 or 3-0), what are your chances of winning? Saying "concentrate on doubles" doesn't mean your going to give away singles matches, either, but rather that you make sure you always have strong doubles and don't put your two best players in singles as a knee jerk reaction. A lot of the great winning percentage you are quoting is because good teams DO make sure they have strong doubles teams, so if they sweep singles, a win is virtually guaranteed.That is certainly the conventional wisdom. However, as schmke's post above shows, it is uncommon/rare to win both singles courts and lose the match. Mikeler's situation was a rare event according to the data. It appears on the surface that the most certain way to win a USTA league match is to sweep the singles courts, because then you have a 94% chance of winning the match.

It's all based on relative strengths at the disciplines. Your best doubles player might be your best singles player, too, but if he's personally better in doubles than singles and/or relatively more better at doubles than the other potential singles players, then he belongs in doubles.

You don't have to sweep the doubles every match, but if you win the doubles (either 2-1 or 3-0), what are your chances of winning? Saying "concentrate on doubles" doesn't mean your going to give away singles matches, either, but rather that you make sure you always have strong doubles and don't put your two best players in singles as a knee jerk reaction. A lot of the great winning percentage you are quoting is because good teams DO make sure they have strong doubles teams, so if they sweep singles, a win is virtually guaranteed.

Interesting question. So I wonder what the converse statistics show then. If a team wins 2 doubles matches, how likely are they to go on to get the team win. If it is less than a 94% chance of a win, then the best strategy would be to stack your best players on the singles courts. If I am building a team from scratch, I start by finding the two best singles players I can.

Also, as an aside, I generally doubt the whole concept of a "specialist" in rec tennis. As in a "doubles specialist" or a "singles specialist". Maybe at higher levels this is a thing, but at 3.0-3.5-4.0 the better players are just better players, singles or doubles.

You are right, you can't argue with the data. But you also need to be careful looking atonlythe 3-2 wins where the three wins were all doubles. Playing your best doubles guys in doubles does not mean you are throwing or defaulting the singles courts. Just due to the opponent and who they happen to play, you may win a singles court on occasion so the focus on doubles strategy is going to contribute to some 4-1 wins too. Or even when there is an upset in doubles, if you get a singles win the focus on doubles strategy will contribute to some 3-2 wins.

You can see all the variations/scenarios in the blog post I wrote that then 5.9% quote came from at http://computerratings.blogspot.com/2015/12/2015-usta-league-team-winning-scenario.html

So according to your blog post, if I am reading it correctly, the most predictive factor in a win is winning at least one singles court?

There are definitely still relative strengths at lower levels. Especially at a level like 3.5, you see guys who are pushers who hit with no pace and are virtually allergic to the net and older guys who really can't move well anymore, but still understand the game and the angles well enough and have a good enough variety of shots to drive better overall players nuts in doubles. One of those players might be a better player overall in both disciplines, but if it's the older guy, he's going to be way better in doubles and only a little better in singles. You're still much better served having that guy in doubles and letting the weaker guy who is only a little weaker in singles play the singles.Interesting question. So I wonder what the converse statistics show then. If a team wins 2 doubles matches, how likely are they to go on to get the team win. If it is less than a 94% chance of a win, then the best strategy would be to stack your best players on the singles courts. If I am building a team from scratch, I start by finding the two best singles players I can.

Also, as an aside, I generally doubt the whole concept of a "specialist" in rec tennis. As in a "doubles specialist" or a "singles specialist". Maybe at higher levels this is a thing, but at 3.0-3.5-4.0 the better players are just better players, singles or doubles.

Winning at least one doubles match is even more predictive - it's 100%.So according to your blog post, if I am reading it correctly, the most predictive factor in a win is winning at least one singles court?

Winning at least one doubles match is even more predictive - it's 100%.

It is a stronger association, yes. But since it is impossible to win as a team without winning one doubles court (so of course it is 100%), it is not necessarily a distinguishing feature when it comes to winning vs losing.

This is exactly why good captains make sure they are strong in doubles. You can't win without it.It is a stronger association, yes. Butsince it is impossible to win as a team without winning one doubles court(so of course it is 100%), it is not necessarily a distinguishing feature when it comes to winning vs losing.

Do you guy really think a .5 would be enough?

In my area, it would have to be a full point.

I am from Australia were the few club leagues i have played in are unisex. but the women are never in div 1 at any club. Even a girl ranked 200 in Australia.. She gets beaten 6-0 6-0 easily..

Mixed competitions only help out the lower standard guys and the very high women.. decent guys and lower women wont get anymore competition then they already have

Winning at least one doubles match is even more predictive - it's 100%.

No it isn't.

There are plenty of teams that win one doubles point and still lose.

You misunderstand. 100% of all winning combinations include at least one doubles.No it isn't.

There are plenty of teams that win one doubles point and still lose.

Mixed competitions only help out the lower standard guys and the very high women.. decent guys and lower women wont get anymore competition then they already have

I cannot argue with that. Quite true.

You misunderstand. 100% of all winning combinations include at least one doubles.

That isn't what you said though.

Being able to win both singles points is a huge advantage in league tennis. There are 7 possible winning outcomes that involve winning both singles. There are only 4 winning combinations that win with all three doubles.

Ummm, are you really arguing that winning 2 singles is better than winning 3 doubles courts? Don't forget that winning 3 doubles courts means, well, that you've won the team match. Winning 2 singles courts means you still need to win another court ...That isn't what you said though.

Being able to win both singles points is a huge advantage in league tennis. There are 7 possible winning outcomes that involve winning both singles. There are only 4 winning combinations that win with all three doubles.

So you are comparing apples and oranges. Of course there are more combinations with the 2 singles because you haven't won the team match yet!

Ummm, are you really arguing that winning 2 singles is better than winning 3 doubles courts? Don't forget that winning 3 doubles courts means, well, that you've won the team match. Winning 2 singles courts means you still need to win another court ...

So you are comparing apples and oranges. Of course there are more combinations with the 2 singles because you haven't won the team match yet!

No i'm not making that argument and I'm really surprised you're making this argument considering you're a data guy.

All the courts are of equal value so it doesn't really matter how you get to 3 points to win a match. The argument isn't "you won two singles points, we won three doubles points." The discussion is actually is it better to focus on winning the two singles points or three doubles points.

Your own data shows you're more likely to win two singles points and a doubles point than you are to win all three doubles points.

I was commenting on this statement you made, nothing else.No i'm not making that argument and I'm really surprised you're making this argument considering you're a data guy.

If that isn't you comparing winning 2 singles vs 3 doubles, tell me what is is? I still contend that is an apple and oranges comparison, so I'm not sure what point you are trying to make by saying that. You seem to be saying winning both singles is better than winning all three doubles? I'll take winning all three doubles every time as I've already won the team match.There are 7 possible winning outcomes that involve winning both singles. There are only 4 winning combinations that win with all three doubles.

I was commenting on this statement you made, nothing else.

If that isn't you comparing winning 2 singles vs 3 doubles, tell me what is is? I still contend that is an apple and oranges comparison, so I'm not sure what point you are trying to make by saying that. You seem to be saying winning both singles is better than winning all three doubles? I'll take winning all three doubles every time as I've already won the team match.

I'll take winning the lottery over not winning the lottery every time.

But that is a pretty silly argument when you don't know the outcome before entering the match.

I'm not sure why you're struggling to understand my post. I'm clearly saying you are more likely to win both singles and win the match than you are to win all three doubles. I'm guessing you're trying to latch onto a nonsensical argument instead of conceding to your own data?

Your data clearly shows the strategy of winning two singles and at least one doubles point is more successful than the strategy trying to win all three doubles points.

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I'll take winning the lottery over not winning the lottery every time.

But that is a pretty silly argument when you don't know the outcome before entering the match.

I'm not sure why you're struggling to understand my post. I'm clearly saying you are more likely to win both singles and win the match than you are to win all three doubles. I'm guessing you're trying to latch onto a nonsensical argument instead of conceding to your own data?

Your data clearly shows the strategy of winning two singles and at least one doubles point is more successful than the strategy trying to win all three doubles points.

You two are arguing different things.

I agree with Startzel that the probability of winning 2 singles and 1 doubles is higher than winning all 3 doubles.

However, @schmke is also correct that IF you win all 3 doubles, you've already won the match.

Apples, meet oranges.

Neither definitively answers the question of how you as the team captain should strategize your lineup because you may have better doubles than you do singles. ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL, I guess I'd go for the singles wins and try to scrape one of the three doubles [which, of course, is no guarantee that I will achieve the singles wins. Just playing the percentages.].

You two are arguing different things.

I agree with Startzel that the probability of winning 2 singles and 1 doubles is higher than winning all 3 doubles.

However, @schmke is also correct that IF you win all 3 doubles, you've already won the match.

Apples, meet oranges.

Neither definitively answers the question of how you as the team captain should strategize your lineup because you may have better doubles than you do singles. ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL, I guess I'd go for the singles wins and try to scrape one of the three doubles [which, of course, is no guarantee that I will achieve the singles wins. Just playing the percentages.].

It isn't an apples to oranges argument because the actual discussion is which strategy is better.

We will never know the outcome before the match so their argument "I'll take all three doubles" points is just hope and doesn't support focusing on doubles over singles. It's like arguing the odds are in my favor with the lottery ticket I bought because it will win.

When discussing a strategy you can't claim the outcome you want as certain. You have to work within the probability of it happening.

It is what I said. You misunderstood (or are intentionally trolling yet again).That isn't what you said though.

Being able to win both singles points is a huge advantage in league tennis. There are 7 possible winning outcomes that involve winning both singles. There are only 4 winning combinations that win with all three doubles.

I agree with Startzel that the probability of winning 2 singles and 1 doubles is higher than winning all 3 doubles.

The probability gods know nothing of singles or dubs. All that matters is the win probability % per line. If your team has the same win probability for every line, then you are just as likely to win by winning both singles and say line 3 dubs as you are to win lines 1 and 2 dubs and then line 3 dubs as well.

However, I believe that good teams in general have a higher win probability for their singles lines than for their dubs iines. This is because it's easier to have one player who is significantly better than the opponent, than two players who's average strength is above the level of their opponents' average by the same margin. Also, I think singles is less prone to unexpected results due to playing styles, partner chemistry, performance on the day, etc.

It is what I said. You misunderstood (or are intentionally trolling yet again).

No that isn't what you said. Your post is still up in black and white so it really isn't up for debate.

What you meant to say is not what you actually said. If you want to call me a troll instead of admitting your mistake, so be it.

The probability gods know nothing of singles or dubs. All that matters is the win probability % per line. If your team has the same win probability for every line, then you are just as likely to win by winning both singles and say line 3 dubs as you are to win lines 1 and 2 dubs and then line 3 dubs as well.

However, I believe that good teams in general have a higher win probability for their singles lines than for their dubs iines. This is because it's easier to have one player who is significantly better than the opponent, than two players who's average strength is above the level of their opponents' average by the same margin. Also, I think singles is less prone to unexpected results due to playing styles, partner chemistry, performance on the day, etc.

I agree there is much less variation in results when it comes to singles compared to doubles. It really comes down to simple math in this discussion. Obviously it changes if you know the probability of winning each court of two opponents but on the aggregate it's simple math.

You have a 21.8% of winning two singles and one doubles point. You only have a 12.5% chance of winning all three doubles points. If you lose a singles point or a doubles point the chances of winning under both scenarios equal out at 37.5% so the discussion becomes irrelevant.

This math also ignores the fact you only need 4 good players to win a match via the two singles and one doubles strategy. You need 6 to win the three doubles. So in reality your chances of winning either of the singles points becomes lower if you shift your best 6 players to doubles unless your team is significantly deeper than the opposing team.

You have a 21.8% of winning two singles and one doubles point. You only have a 12.5% chance of winning all three doubles points. If you lose a singles point or a doubles point the chances of winning under both scenarios equal out at 37.5% so the discussion becomes irrelevant.

This math also ignores the fact you only need 4 good players to win a match via the two singles and one doubles strategy. You need 6 to win the three doubles. So in reality your chances of winning either of the singles points becomes lower if you shift your best 6 players to doubles unless your team is significantly deeper than the opposing team.

Absolutely agree with your second paragraph. This comes down to setting your lineup correctly between singles and doubles such that you maximize your aggregate win probability per line across all 5 lines.

But I have no idea where you are getting the percentages in your first paragraph. How are you calculating those probabilities?

EDIT: Perhaps you are calculating the probability of two singles plus *any one* of the dubs lines, which is then not an accurate comparison. You should be calculating the probability of two singles plus *one specific* dubs line. In which case you have the same probability as winning all three dubs. If you are going to allow for any of the dubs line to be your third win in conjunction with your two singles, then the corresponding comparison is saying you have two dubs wins, and then need a third win (either the 3rd dubs or one of the singles) to win the match.

Absolutely agree with your second paragraph. This comes down to setting your lineup correctly between singles and doubles such that you maximize your aggregate win probability per line across all 5 lines.

But I have no idea where you are getting the percentages in your first paragraph. How are you calculating those probabilities?

EDIT: Perhaps you are calculating the probability of two singles plus *any one* of the dubs lines, which is then not an accurate comparison. You should be calculating the probability of two singles plus *one specific* dubs line. In which case you have the same probability as winning all three dubs. If you are going to allow for any of the dubs line to be your third win in conjunction with your two singles, then the corresponding comparison is saying you have two dubs wins, and then need a third win (either the 3rd dubs or one of the singles) to win the match.

I see why you would have the criticism for the numbers, but your concern isn't actually valid. The opposing side restricted themselves by arguing for all three doubles points. That's the very reason why two singles and one doubles is the superior strategy.

I acknowledged that two doubles and one singles strategy is the same as two singles one doubles strategy. However, that's not what was being argued.

I wasn't really following some of the argument, so I don't know what the 'opposing side' is or said...I see why you would have the criticism for the numbers, but your concern isn't actually valid. The opposing side restricted themselves by arguing for all three doubles points. That's the very reason why two singles and one doubles is the superior strategy.

I acknowledged that two doubles and one singles strategy is the same as two singles one doubles strategy. However, that's not what was being argued.

What I'm pointing out is that there is no basis for differentiating between singles and dubs in terms of overall match win probabilities, given equal individual line win % probabilities. So the only strategy that has any merit is setting your lineup such that you maximize the individual match win probabilities aggregated across the 5 lines, regardless of singles or doubles.

Setting your lineup so as to guarantee the two singles and then hope for a dubs win is no more or less valid that setting your lineup to guarantee wins in #1 and #2 dubs and then hope for a singles win or #3 dubs win.

Conversely, specifically going for all three dubs wins (i.e. throwing away the two singles lines) is no better or worse than specifically going for the two singles wins and a specified dubs line (i.e. throwing away the other two dubs lines).

What is true though is that it it easier to increase your individual match win probabilities for singles than for dubs, because you need just one significantly-better-than-average player to do that in singles, versus two such players for dubs. Plus, singles is more predictable and less subject to various outcome variances than dubs.

Bottom line:

If building a team, incrementally adding a great singles player to the roster is more valuable than incrementally adding a great dubs player.

However when setting a lineup given a specific roster to choose from, each line should be set such that line win probabilities are maximized when aggregating across all 5 lines, without any special preference given to either singles or dubs.

Agreed in terms of team building, since one great singles player is as valuable as a great dubs pair (i.e. two great dubs players who mesh).

However, if you happened to have two great singles players plus the rest of the team being average, versus two great dubs teams plus the rest of the team being average, you should expect similar outcomes.

I wasn't really following some of the argument, so I don't know what the 'opposing side' is or said...

What I'm pointing out is that there is no basis for differentiating between singles and dubs in terms of overall match win probabilities, given equal individual line win % probabilities. So the only strategy that has any merit is setting your lineup such that you maximize the individual match win probabilities aggregated across the 5 lines, regardless of singles or doubles.

Setting your lineup so as to guarantee the two singles and then hope for a dubs win is no more or less valid that setting your lineup to guarantee wins in #1 and #2 dubs and then hope for a singles win or #3 dubs win.

Conversely, specifically going for all three dubs wins (i.e. throwing away the two singles lines) is no better or worse than specifically going for the two singles wins and a specified dubs line (i.e. throwing away the other two dubs lines).

What is true though is that it it easier to increase your individual match win probabilities for singles than for dubs, because you need just one significantly-better-than-average player to do that in singles, versus two such players for dubs. Plus, singles is more predictable and less subject to various outcome variances than dubs.

Bottom line:

If building a team, incrementally adding a great singles player to the roster is more valuable than incrementally adding a great dubs player.

However when setting a lineup given a specific roster to choose from, each line should be set such that line win probabilities are maximized when aggregating across all 5 lines, without any special preference given to either singles or dubs.

Yeah, I agree with everything you're saying. Guess that means you're trolling according to @J_R_B ;-)

Agreed in terms of team building, since one great singles player is as valuable as a great dubs pair (i.e. two great dubs players who mesh).

However, if you happened to have two great singles players plus the rest of the team being average, versus two great dubs teams plus the rest of the team being average, you should expect similar outcomes.

Agree. But I think it is harder to build a team that deep.

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