Wednesday, February 12, 2014

It is only February, but the 3 strike DQs have begun in USTA League

In USTA League play, new players self-rate at a certain level based on answering a series of questions.  When answered correctly, this usually results in the player beginning play at the proper level.  However, sometimes, whether deliberate or not, a player self-rates too low.

To try to avoid uncompetitive and unfair situations where a self-rated player is playing at too low a level, the USTA has a 3-strike DQ process where if a player's dynamic rating exceeds a level specific threshold 3 times, they are disqualified at that level and promoted to the next.

I recently learned about an unexpected DQ after just 3 matches and was asked to generate an Estimated Dynamic NTRP Rating Report for the player.  The report confirmed that my estimated ratings agreed that 3 strikes had occurred.

While there very may have been other DQs already in 2014, this was the first I did a report on.  Since the DQ was in just 3 matches, the chart is kind of boring so I won't show it, but each match rating was above the strike threshold resulting in each dynamic rating being over as well.

I'm often asked why strikes occur and the simple answer is that the player has demonstrated that they are playing well above level.  In this case, the player played with a lower rated partner and beat some higher rated opponents.  The specifics varied a bit from match to match, but the consistent theme was that he carried the weaker partner to wins and that is a recipe for getting strikes.

As is usually the case, there are fears and concerns that the player won't be able to compete at the promoted level.  This usually isn't the case, although the player likely won't win most of their matches at the higher level.  This doesn't mean they aren't now at the right level though.

Players like to win and if they have a losing record for a season they think they should get bumped down.  But what many like to forget is that for every winner there is a loser and losing a match to a strong opponent may be expected and the loss doesn't mean their rating should go down.  Not all losses hurt a rating, a loss could actually raise your rating, and similarly not all wins raise a rating.

So if you get DQd or bumped up, relish the opportunity to raise your game and embrace the challenge.  It is the DQ or bump wasn't appropriate, your rating will come down and you'll move down to the appropriate level, but given enough matches and as long as players aren't trying to manipulate ratings, they work for 99% of players.