Sunday, April 27, 2014

USTA League Nationals are over!!! ... for 2013

Here we are, just four months into 2014, and Nationals are complete!

Ok, it is 2013 Nationals that just completed with the 55 & over division finishing up this weekend.  For whatever reason, the USTA had this 2013 division finishing up in the 2014 calendar year.

While everyone wants to win Nationals, just getting there is a great accomplishment for all the teams so congratulations to all of those that made it and participated.

It looks like the 2014 Nationals schedule makes a little more sense with all of the Adult division's currently scheduled to be held somewhere between early October and early November and Mixed later in November.  With Adult finishing up November 7-9, I'm guessing the 2014 league year will end then making it a couple weeks longer than last year.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Northern Virginia (NOVA) opting out of USTA 18 & Over Leagues for 2014

I hope I'm not passing along rumor, but the information looks official enough that I'll pass the information along and comment on it.  If this turns out to not be true, I'll post back here with foot firmly planted in mouth.

I just read on the Tennis Warehouse Talk Tennis forum that NOVA, or more specifically the Home Court Tennis Leagues that runs the leagues in NOVA, is not going to participate in the USTA's 18 & over leagues this year.  A number of reasons are cited including politics, costs, and micro-management, the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back being recent drama of the schedule for the 18 & over league.  Here is the link.

There is certainly a lot of league/team tennis played around the country that is not done under the purview of the USTA, ALTA is probably the largest example but most every part of the country has some sort of local league play, so this isn't earth shattering in that regard, but the Mid-Atlantic Section and NOVA specifically is one of the largest participants in USTA Leagues so if this happens and sticks and extends to all USTA play in NOVA, it will be significant.

Now, it will be interesting to see what happens, both if this move away from USTA is for real or if some other organization, or perhaps the USTA itself, steps in to run the leagues in NOVA.  I will continue to follow and post updates as I hear about them.

Are other areas of the country unhappy with the USTA?  If so why?  Is there a growing demand for team/league tennis played separate from the USTA?

One aspect of USTA play that is attractive to some is the idea that it all funnels into a National Championship.  If a local league can't offer that, is that a big deal or will you play in the local league anyway?

I'd love to hear what you think, so feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me directly.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bump downs for Seniors in USTA League Tennis

A fairly common question I get from folks, particularly Seniors, is why they haven't been bumped down and if they are close enough to appeal.  I actually just did an Estimated Dynamic NTRP Rating Report for someone this weekend that helped them decide to appeal and they were successful which pleased them greatly.

Why do people ask this and why is it important?

Players that have a bad year or know they have declining skills may play at a given level and not do well, even to the point of not having competitive matches.  It is natural for them to want to be bumped down simply to make their experience, and frankly the experience for those they play with and against, more enjoyable.  While this can happen with any age group, it is perhaps a little more common with Seniors as they begin to slow down a bit and can't play at quite the level they used to.

The problem is that because the NTRP algorithm can lag your current results a bit due to how the averaging is done, players that only play a handful of matches in a given year may not have their rating drop far enough to get the bump down.

For example, say a player has been a good 4.0 for many years and has a rating around 3.8.  Say they happen to not be able to play too much the next year and between the lack of play and age catching up with them, they get match ratings of 3.4, 3.5, and 3.3.  Taken by themselves, they look like a good 3.5 player.  But because they were carrying the 3.8 in to the year, with only three results, their rating doesn't fall below 3.5 and they don't get bumped down.

So players like the gentleman I did a report for are interested in why they weren't bumped down and how close they are to the threshold and if they can appeal.  With the new appeal rules, it is easier for players in this situation to appeal as by playing only three matches, the allowance for an auto-appeal is a full 0.1.

Now, these appeal rules aren't just for Seniors.  As described in my NTRP FAQ, the USTA allows for appeals for players that haven't played too many matches as they seem to understand that just a few matches may not result in the most accurate rating.  So any player can appeal and if they meet the criteria, it should be granted.  Can these appeal rules be used to someone's advantage trying to get bumped down to stack a team?  Sure, but in most cases the players are legitimately getting to the right level and/or the matches are still competitive, which is the whole goal of the NTRP system.

If you didn't get bumped down and are interested how close you might be an if an appeal might be successful, let me know.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Where can you play the most USTA League tennis and how many matches did you play last year?

Many players that play USTA League live in a city where there is one USTA district or area and thus one set of leagues.  This usually provides ample opportunity to play, oftentimes year-round with the introduction of the 40 & over leagues last year.  In my area, many players will play 18 & over Mixed and Adult, 40 & over Mixed and Adult, and a Summer doubles league we have.

If that isn't enough for you, there are some areas of the country where you can play more.  A lot more in fact.  As you might expect, this is in the more populated areas of the country, namely the East Coast.  In some areas of New Jersey or Connecticut for example, you can play not only in multiple areas but multiple sections with the Middle States, Eastern, and New England sections all very close together.  Similarly, I've seen players that live in the Carolinas playing in both North and South Carolina as a way to get into more leagues and matches.

But the topper from what I've seen is in the Mid-Atlantic section, and specifically the Washington D.C. area.  Between Washington D.C. itself and the surrounding areas in Maryland and Virginia, there is a plethora of playing opportunities.  Throw in that some of these areas have not only the standard leagues but also Tri-Level, Combo, and Singles leagues and someone that wanted could probably find a way to play 4-5 times a week if not more.

So, what are some of the extreme cases I've seen?  While most of us play in just one area, there is a player in the Mid-Atlantic section that played in eight last year.  Prince Georges County, Anne Arundel County, Frederick County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Forty West, Northern Virginia, and Washington D.C.  And with just a bit of driving, this player could likely get to Baltimore County and Loudoun County, if not a few more.  And before you say this is one strange outlier, there are a bunch of players that played in six and seven areas as well.

This leads to situations where players may be on over 20 teams in a given year and play over 50 matches during the year.  In fact, there is a player from Leesburg, VA that was on 25 teams in 2013 and played over 100 matches during the year.

How many league matches did you play last year?