Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 USTA League year-end bump percentages for NTRP 4.5 broken out by section and gender - Interesting tennis league stats

Continuing on the quest to see how players were bumped up/down at different levels, here are charts showing how players at the 4.5 level were bumped up or down by section and gender in the 2014 year-end NTRP ratings.

Unlike what we saw for he 3.0, 3.5, and 4.0 levels, there is not the bias towards more bumps up than down with many sections have more players bumped down than up, particularly for the women.  There are a few exceptions though.

For the men, most sections had more bumps down than up or close to it.  Narrowly having more bump downs were Eastern, SoCal, and Texas, and Caribbean had a fair number more, but once again, the Pacific Northwest was hammered with nearly 25% of the 4.5s bumped up to 5.0 and less than 5% bumped down.

For the women, there were even fewer bumps up, just the Pacific Northwest and SoCal having more players going up than down.  Interestingly, Caribbean women received no bumps up, just bumps down.

Need a last minute Christmas gift for a USTA League tennis nut? An Estimated Dynamic NTRP Rating Report could be it!

Christmas is less than a week away and you still haven't gotten a gift for a teammate or that tennis nut family member.  The malls are crowded and picked over and buying online may not make it in time unless you pay extra for faster shipping.  What to do?

An Estimated Dynamic NTRP Rating Report could be the perfect gift.  Reports are generated and sent the same day (or first thing the following day if ordered very late) so it will get there in time, and it is a great way to let your tennis fanatic know how their matches really rated during the year and how close they really were to (not) being bumped up or down.

Contact me for more information or to request a report.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

New Estimated Dynamic NTRP Rating Report Chart

I've made a few tweaks to the chart included with an Estimated Dynamic NTRP Rating Report and an example is below.

Singles and doubles matches were already in a different color in the chart, but I've cleaned it up a bit and now also call out those matches that were in the playoffs so you can more easily see those results.

What do you think?

2014 USTA League year-end bump percentages for NTRP 3.0 broken out by section and gender - Interesting tennis league stats

Continuing on the quest to see how players were bumped up/down at different levels, here are charts showing how players at the 3.0 level were bumped up or down in the 2014 year-end NTRP ratings.

Given the bias towards bump ups we saw from the 3.5 level, it isn't a surprise to see more bumps up than down, but the 3.0s take it to another level.  This is probably to be expected as 3.0 is a level many new players start at and as they improve, they'll be bumped up.  So there are certainly a lot of new 3.5s to replace those that got bumped up to 4.0.

And while a few sections stand out being bumped up more than others, notably Caribbean and Southern California, there are fewer anomalies at this level.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The depths some players will go to to try to not get bumped up - The dark side of USTA League

I recently became aware of another seemingly blatant attempt by a few players to deliberately manipulate their ratings down to avoid being bumped up.  While not on the scale of the 2014 3.0 men's Nationals team I wrote about before as it wasn't an entire roster, it is arguably more egregious because it was by established players and the excuse of being new or not knowing simply doesn't fly.

This situation happened in my back yard in the Pacific Northwest and involved our One Doubles league.  This is a summer league we have that involves a team of at most 4 players playing a single doubles match for each team match.  You can think of it as our version of Tri-Level, we just split a Tri-Level team into individual teams.

This league is played in the summer, usually right after our local playoffs.  So teams have finished their "normal" seasons and are playing for fun or to get to play outside (most of our normal leagues are indoors) and while there are playoffs and you can advance to the Tri-Level Invitational, it isn't as widely played and generally not as serious as the 18+ and 40+ leagues.

The team in question had players from a local 4.0 playoff winner that was advancing on to Sectionals and ultimately Nationals, so had done very well.  It turns out that only 3 of the rostered players ended up playing in the One Doubles league, and they were all very high rated 4.0s.  One was an early start bump to 4.5 and my ratings had the other two very close.

If they were to do well in playoffs, they would likely be bumped up to 4.5 and in apparent fear of this, they went about using the One Doubles league to throw matches to manipulate their ratings down.  That is appalling enough, but the degree to which they did it takes things to the next level.  Remember now, this is normal doubles played against other 4.0s and these guys are higher rated 4.0s.

One player played 6 matches, losing every one, the closest score being a 6-1,6-3 loss and a full 8 of the 12 sets being 6-1 or 6-0 losses.  Another played 4 matches also losing every one, the closest score being 6-2,6-1.  The third played 2 matches winning a total of 6 games.  And even worse yet, some of the opponents were 3.5s playing up.

The ratings they generated from these matches were clear aberrations and not consistent with what they had done all year.  Were these players injured?  Did they lose their ability to play?  Not the case at all.  Each player subsequently did well at Sectionals and Nationals against stronger competition going 5-2, 5-3, and 5-3 there.  Was it because One Doubles was outside?  No, their Sectionals and Nationals were outside too.

So it seems pretty clear that all 6 of the matches played were deliberately thrown in an effort to manage their ratings down.  There are not strong enough words one can use to condemn this behavior and since this is a blog and will live on forever on the Web somewhere, I'll refrain from going overboard, but it is very very sad to see someone stoop to this level as it isn't fair on numerous levels.

First, they are trying to defraud the system and manipulate their ratings so they can play at a level they shouldn't be eligible to.  This goes against the spirit and rules of USTA League.  No, the USTA isn't perfect, but when players play normally, the system works pretty well.

Second, it isn't fair to their competition who signed up for a league to play competitive matches.  Playing a match where your opponent is likely or apparently missing shots deliberately or goofing off or whatever they did to lose so badly is not achieving this goal and diminishing the experience of playing in the league.

Third, it isn't fair to their opponents and given how the system works, all of their opponents' opponents, etc., as it is skewing ratings that could lead to other players being bumped up or down that shouldn't.  For example, a 3.5 playing these very strong 4.0s and getting a 6-1,6-1 win is going to have their rating incorrectly go up which may lead to them being bumped up when they shouldn't be.

So I'm sure some of you are wondering, were they successful?  The answer is thankfully no, they were all bumped up to 4.5 at year-end, their Sectionals and Nationals results were good and moved their ratings back up from where they were after the One Doubles league.  Additionally, I have not verified this, but the USTA may have thrown these matches out as while the scores are still shown on TennisLink, it also seems to indicate the League Coordinator changed them to default wins for the opponents.  So it appears someone caught on and the team was DQ'd from play.  I'd hope the results were ignored for ratings purposes too give how they would skew results for others.  But should more be done?

In my view, what should happen in clear and blatant cases like this is the team/players should be DQ'd, the matches not used for ratings, and the players should be given a ban from playing in any USTA sanctioned event.  There is simply no place for behavior like this.  While I'm sure this situation is very much an exception and not the rule, it is one of the things that gives USTA League a black eye and the revenue lost from a hand full of players being banned is more than offset by keeping players that leave because of behavior like this and the improved and fair competition you'll get when these types of shenanigans are weeded out.

I do not know one way or the other if there has been any ban or reprimand at all in addition to the DQ'ing of the matches and team from the league.  I would hope so and if so, kudos to the USTA.  If not, please document rules that allow bans to be imposed in these situations so these types of players can be gotten rid of.

2014 USTA League year-end bump percentages for NTRP 3.5 broken out by section and gender - Interesting tennis league stats

I wrote about how the NTRP 4.0 level players were bumped up or down in the 2014 year-end NTRP ratings, now it is time for the 3.5s.

We can see that the men were bumped up and lot more than down, and had three sections with bump rtes over 18% and several more close behind.

The women weren't quite as extreme, but still had several sections with bump up rates over 15%.

Did this may 3.5s really improve that much?  Or is the USTA trying to weaken the level by moving all the better 3.5s out?

Monday, December 8, 2014

2014 USTA League year-end bump percentages for NTRP 4.0 now broken out by gender - Interesting tennis league stats

I wrote about the overall bump percentages for 4.0s in USTA League play this year-end, but grouping men and women together doesn't tell the whole picture.  So below are separate charts for men and women 4.0s showing the percentage of 2013 year-end 4.0s that were bumped down to 3.5 or up to 4.5.

We see some differences between the men (left) and women (right), although the top-4 sections for bump ups for both men and women are PNW, NorCal, SoCal, and Texas.  The PNW 4.0 men were given the highest percentage of bump ups by a healthy margin but the SoCal women, and even the NorCal women beat out the PNW.

The Caribbean women had the largest percentage bumped down, but the men were bumped up more. Perhaps Caribbean should be the early favorites for 3.5 women Nationals next year.

Interestingly, the Northern men had a high percentage of bump ups even though neither 18+ nor 40+ made the semis at Nationals.  They did finish second in their flight in 18+ but third in 40+ so this number of bump ups and the low percentage of bump downs for them is odd.