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.