Friday, December 6, 2013

Interesting USTA League Stats - What levels do players self-rate at and is there deliberate underrating?

When new players register to join a USTA League team, they are required to self-rate.  There are a set of guidelines to be used to have a player rate themselves at the right level so that they are hopefully playing competitive matches when they begin play.

With the data I have from generating Estimated Dynamic NTRP Rating Reports, I thought it would be interesting to look at what levels players self-rate at.  Here is what I found for 2013 self-rates.


This probably isn't a big surprise, with the most common levels being 3.0 and 3.5.  Players that self-rate are usually new or newer to the game, but many of these having some athletic background, and so you'd expect the lower to middle levels to be the most common.

It is interesting that even though the lowest level league is typically 2.5 and the guidelines above only going down to 2.5, there are a few players that self-rate at 2.0.

Next, I thought it would be interesting to look at some different areas to see if the self-rate profile was similar or different.

First, California.


The profile is very similar with a little more bias towards 3.5 than 2.5 and 3.0.

Next, Florida.


Again, a similar looking profile.

Let's go to a state that might be more unique by being an island with perhaps a different cross-section of players, Hawaii.

The profile remains very similar.

Last, let's take a look at Puerto Rico.


Here we see a different profile, and not just subtly different either.  The most common level is 2.5, a full two levels "left" of the rest.

It would be interesting to understand the reason for this.  It is certainly possible that in Puerto Rico, players' first exposure to tennis is often through USTA League and so you get more that are truly beginners and this chart simply is evidence of that.  However, there are some that believe that there is systemic and deliberate underrating that takes place in order to create teams likely to do well at Nationals.  There are disqualification provisions in place to try to prevent this and I've written about these before, but they aren't perfect.

This chart certainly isn't proof that deliberate sandbagging is taking place in Puerto Rico, but it certainly supports that hypothesis.