Saturday, April 21, 2018

Seattle area USTA League 40+ local playoffs preview

The local playoffs for the 40+ USTA League in Seattle actually got started last night, but the bulk of play is today and tomorrow.  Here is a quick preview of some of the match-ups.

All these previews are using the top-8 averages from each roster using my Estimated Dynamic NTRP Ratings and is info that is included in Flight Preview reports.  Keep in mind that top-8 averages are a good, but not perfect, predictor of who will win a match.  Who actually plays and the match-ups can result in upsets, and getting the desirable match-ups is why people get flight reports to scout opponents.

The 3.0 women are tightly bunched and has one first round match this morning with #2 Robinswood playing #4 Bellevue Club.  The winner plays #3 Amy Yee while #1 Seattle Tennis Club plays #5 Eastside.

The 3.0 men lays out nicely with the #1 seed Mercer Island playing the #4 seed TCSP, while the #2 seed Bellevue Club plays the #3 Columbia-Silver Lake.

The 3.5 women had two matches last night, #4 TCSP-Rally Cats beating #5 BETC, and #2 TCSP-Blum beating #6 Central Park.  So no upsets so far.  Today TCSP-Blum takes on #1 Nordstrom while TCSP-Rally Cats plays #3 Mercer Island.

The 3.5 men have a match this morning, #2 Bellevue Club taking on #5 Eastside, the winner then taking on #1 Central Park.  The other semi has #3 Gold Creek facing #4 Columbia Silver Lake.

At the 4.0 level, the women are tightly bunched with #2 Central Park playing #3 Pro-Sports Club in one semi while #1 TCSP plays #4 Seattle Tennis Club.

The 4.0 men has #2 NTC facing #3 Bellingham and #1 Pro-Sports Club taking on #4 Pine Lake.

Finally, at 4.5+, the women has #1 Bellevue Club playing #3 Nordstrom and #2 Seattle Tennis Club playing #4 BETC.

And the 4.5+ men has #1 Nordstrom playing #3 Mercer Island while #2 Seattle Tennis Club faces #4 BETC.

I'll report back Sunday evening on how it has all played out and who is on to Sectionals.  Good luck to all!

NTRP Rating Meetings in Seattle and Portland in May

I'd like to think what I write about here on my blog and FAQ are a good set of resources for USTA League players interested in how the NTRP algorithm works, interesting stats about ratings and USTA League play, and a way to get a report estimating what their dynamic NTRP rating is offering insights into how and why their rating changes and is where it is.

But if you are in Portland or Seattle and would like to attend a meeting with the USTA Senior Manager of Product Strategy for Events and Ratings to learn more about the NTRP rating system, plan to attend one of the meetings being held in May where Heather Hawkes will be present to discuss the topic and answer questions.

Meetings will be:

  • Portland - Monday May 7, 6:30 - 8:00 pm - MAC Club Ballroom
  • Bellevue - Tuesday May 8, 7:00 - 8:30 pm - Downtown Bellevue Courtyard Marriott

I'll be there in Bellevue and hope to see you there.

Pacific Northwest USTA League playoffs are underway, ready for Sectionals? 2018 Sectionals dates and locations

We are now in late April and with that comes the end of the regular season for several leagues in the Pacific Northwest meaning local playoffs have also taken place or are underway.  In Portland, 18 & over local playoffs were held last weekend and the Seattle area started their 40 & over playoffs last night.

There is still a lot of tennis to be played in other divisions and other local playoffs, but a few teams have punched, or will be punching, ticket to Sectionals so those dates now become important.  For those interested, here they are:

  • June 28 - July 1 - Sunriver, OR - Adult 55+
  • July 20 - 22 - Sunriver, OR - Mixed 18+
  • August 10 - 12 - Portland, OR - Adult 18+
  • August 24 - 26 - Portland, OR - Adult 40+
  • September 14 - 16 - Sunriver, OR - Mixed 40+
  • November 1 - 4 - Tacoma, WA - Adult 65+
  • November 9 - 11 - Tacoma, WA - Mixed 55+
  • November 9 - 11 - Tacoma, WA - One Doubles

Good luck to all those teams vying to advance to Sectionals!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

2018 playoffs get started in Seattle this coming weekend

In the Seattle area, the 40 & over league kicked off 2018 in early January, the regular season wrapped up a few weeks ago, and local playoffs are coming up this weekend 4/20-4/22.

Local playoffs are a bit abbreviated this year though with just one wildcard per gender/level so there are fewer teams and fewer rounds to be played.  With the typical wildcard to Sectionals, this means top seeds may only have to win one match to secure a spot to Sectionals.

With fewer teams and just the top teams advancing to playoffs, there will likely be no easy first match and there is a lot more importance on scouting opponents, so for those interested it is a good thing I continue to offer flight and team reports to help captains scout opponents and plan their line-ups.  Contact me if interested.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

When in the year do you play your USTA League matches? Matches per month across all the sections

Those of you reading my blog are probably well aware of, and play in, USTA League, and know that the main advancing leagues (Adult 18+, 40+, 55+) have league play during the year culminating in USTA League Nationals typically in October/November.

Since this is a yearly event, you'd expect the regular season league play to occur earlier in the year, say January thru June, and then the various stages of playoffs occur from July thru September leading to Nationals.  And in fact, this is the case in many, but not all, sections as you'll see below.  Additionally, when the different age divisions play varies by section, some doing them in parallel and some sequentially.

To see how different it is across sections, I've created some charts to visually see when each section has its 18+, 40+, and 55+ regular season matches scheduled.  This is looking at 2017 for just the three Adult age divisions and is just scheduled dates for regular season matches and calculating the number of team matches per month.

Note that looking at the section level you get different districts that may do things differently blended together.  If there is interest (leave comments!), I may drill into a few sections and see how things vary at the district level.

Let me know what you think of the below and when your league matches are played.

Because I'm in the Pacific Northwest, we'll start there.

We see that 55+ is an early start league across the board, playing in the Fall.  Then both 18+ and 40+ are played a lot in the first three months of the year, but 18+ peaks in April and May while 40+ has the bulk of its matches in Jan-Mar.

Southern is the largest section, we'll go there next.

This is one long "2017" season!  They take early start leagues to an extreme, Georgia starting back in May, and other districts have early start leagues too in the Fall, but the bulk of the play is in the Winter/Spring for all age divisions.  We also see that across the whole section, there are approaching ten thousand team matches played in March, far and away the most of any section/month.

Next, Northern California.

With just a bit of overlap, NorCal has 40+, then 18+, then 55+.  All very orderly and consistent.  Just a few early start leagues in Reno I believe not in the calendar year.

Staying in California, Southern Cal is next.

SoCal is also for the most part very orderly, 40+, then 18+, with 55+ sprinkled in and some mis-categorized leagues in the Fall.

Going to another good sized section next, Mid-Atlantic.

This section fits all in the calendar year and is fairly consistent with some played early in the year, but the bulk of 18+ in the Spring and 40+ in the early Summer.

Another large geographic section is Midwest.

There are a fair number of early start leagues in the Fall, and both 18+ and 40+ are spread across the whole season.  It is not clear from this if they are run in parallel in all districts/areas though.

A fair amount of tennis is played in Florida, here is when their matches are played.

They too are playing a lot of leagues at the same time, although the raw number of team matches is not exceptionally high in any month so each district/area could spread them out locally.

Missouri Valley is another section covering a bunch of states.

This section has quite a few early start leagues and is playing 18+ matches regularly throughout the season.  40+ and 55+ are more in the Spring.

Next up, Eastern.

Here the bulk of the matches, 18+, 40+, and 55+ are played in the Spring and early Summer, with a small amount of 18+ played earlier in the year and as early start leagues.

Next, Intermountain.

With snowy winters, not much advancing league play is done indoors it appears which compresses 18+ and 40+ each into just 8-10 week seasons with a little overlap.

Speaking of long winters, here is New England.

Clearly they play indoors with a fair amount of all three leagues played in the Winter and early Spring, but the most is still played in the late Spring and early Summer, a lot in parallel it appears.

Another cold section is Northern.

They play a lot indoors as part of early start leagues, but a fair amount in the late Spring and Summer too.  That absence of matches in April is quite odd though.

Heading south, here is Texas.

Texas has a fair number of early start leagues for 18+ then 40+ is played more in the first three months followed by the rest or a second round of 18+.

Adjacent to Texas is Southwest.

Southwest doesn't play much in the Summer, just some 55+, and 40+ is centered on the Fall/Winter while 18+ is Fall/Spring.

Next up, Middle States.

There is a smattering of early start leagues in this section, but they load up on their advancing leagues in the Spring and early Summer.

Last, on to the "Island Sections", first Caribbean.

Caribbean is very logical, 40+ to start the year, then 18+ and 55+ in the Spring and early Summer.

And that leaves Hawaii.

Also logical, more or less like Caribbean.

There you have it, when each section plays their matches for the different age divisions!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

How many USTA League teams do you captain?

Captaining a USTA League team is often a thankless job.

Captains have a long list of duties including recruiting and assembling a team, getting players signed up, scheduling, coordinating availability and juggling line-ups (e.g. egos and expectations), arranging practices/courts, communicating with other captains, knowing the rules, and so much more.  And all this is done in exchange for getting to play recreational tennis, perhaps some post season glory, and in some sections a thank you gesture/gift from the USTA at the end of the season.

Nevertheless, many captains come back for more every year, doing it again and again.  At my club, there is sort of a repeating set of captains with "Bob" captaining the 40+ 4.0 team while "Sam" captains the 18+ 4.0 team, and "Bob" and "Sue" captain the 40+ 8.0 Mixed team, etc.  The burden is spread out, and with a few exceptions, generally no one captains more than two teams in a year.

I happened to be looking at some captaining stats though and there are some captains that love the game so much, or perhaps love the "power" being captain gives them, that they captain many more than a few teams every year.  Looking back to 2015, I found 11 players that captained 40 or more teams since then, and that is including 2018 which is just getting started!  I even found several that captained 19 teams in 2017!

You might ask how this is possible?  Well, it helps if you are 55+, as you can easily see how you could get to six teams captaining 18+, 40+, and 55+, each in Adult and Mixed.  And some captains will captain an at-level team or playing up too, or multiple levels in combined leagues like Mixed and 55+.  Add to that that some areas have multiple seasons for a given league and the number goes up even more.  Some players live in parts of the country where they can play in multiple areas/districts/sections so that brings more opportunities.  And then there are alternate leagues like Combo, Tri-Level, and Singles.  Regardless, 19 is still a lot!

Captains will use lots of tools from simple spreadsheets to Web-sites that help coordinate availability, practices, and matches, and some get my reports to aid in recruiting and managing their team or scouting opponents.  Still it is not easy, so thank your captain for what they do, and try to be responsive when they e-mail and ask for who can play when.

How many teams to you captain?  How many would be too many?

Monday, March 12, 2018

It is March 2018, guess what that means it is time for? 2019 leagues?

It is March 12 and some areas have started play for their 2018 leagues while others will be starting shortly.  But in Atlanta, teams are already forming for 2019!

Yes folks, Atlanta redefines 'early' start leagues by starting them in the Spring, before some areas will start their 2018 league play.  Should a team advance through playoffs and to Nationals, it could be a full 19 months from when the team is formed to when it plays at Nationals.  That is some kind of long season!