Tuesday, May 27, 2014

USTA League State Playoffs in the Southern Section

It is that time of year where in the Southern section at least, Spring leagues have finished up and State playoffs are taking place.  South Carolina at least held their playoffs for some levels this past holiday weekend and Georgia held at least some earlier in the month.

All of this of course leads up to Sectionals which in the South will be held July 25-27 (18 & over) and August 22-24 (40 & over) and ultimately Nationals in October and November.

Good luck teams!

Monday, May 26, 2014

My rating is well over 3.5 but I wasn't bumped up to 4.0?

I did an Estimated Dynamic NTRP Rating Report for a player recently whose rating was well over 3.5 at year-end, but wasn't bumped up to 4.0 at year-end and stayed 3.5.  They were curious before getting the report as to what was going on with their rating, and were even more so after seeing the report.  So what happened?

This was example of a player 65 or older for which the no bump-up rules kicked in.  When I wrote last fall about the new appeal rules, I also mentioned that players 65 and older won't be bumped up from their prior year-end rating.  And this report was example of this rule in action.

The rule appears to be in place to prevent older players from being bumped up inadvertently and having to play a level up where their experience may not be a positive one.  However, in some cases, it may be appropriate for a player to be bumped up so the blanket rule seems to be perhaps inappropriate.

To be fair to the USTA, players 65 & over are allowed to appeal up if they so choose.  But they have to choose to do so and many players won't, either because they aren't aware, or because they like being able to play with a higher rated partner in 55 & over or 65 & over.

What do you think?  Should seniors have special rules for bumps and appeals?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Am I going to be bumped up? If not, am I at least improving?

This is a common question many players ask and aspire to achieving.  Others are simply wanting to improve and getting bumped up is a recognition of that.

The USTA does official bump ups at year-end when the new ratings are published, typically late November or early December, and in some areas there are early start ratings that come out in mid/late summer.  Both of these can be a validation that that bump up has been achieved.

But the USTA levels are on half-point boundaries, so you only know when you've crossed one.  If you were a 3.5 with a 3.01 rating at the start of the year and you improve to 3.49 at the end of the year, you are still a 3.5 and the USTA gives you no validation or proof of your improvement.  And simply knowing you improved is often what players are interested in.

Thankfully, my Estimated Dynamic NTRP Rating Reports will tell you that.  They show match by match how your rating has been affected and give you a chart where you can readily see if you've been improving and at what rate.

For someone that is really hoping to improve but doesn't get bumped up, seeing a report that shows improvement can be reassuring.  Or sometimes it might be a reality check on where your rating really is and expectations can be reset accordingly.  In either case, the game can become more enjoyable and a certain degree of stressing about your rating goes away.

If interested, contact me.

Monday, May 12, 2014

USTA League Local and State/District playoffs are upon us

In many sections of the USTA, particularly those in the South and Southwest where leagues start earlier in the year, 2014 playoffs are upon us.  I've done a number of reports for players that have just completed local/flight playoffs or some that have gone so far as to play at the State/District level.

Many of these players are wanting to know if they will be bumped up or not and the report gives them a great idea of where they stand.  And in the Southern section, these players may now be finished with all their matches that count towards their rating as that section does not include other leagues played later in the year in ratings calculations.  So except for year-end calculations and how they might affect things, the dynamic rating in the report should be fairly close to where they will end up.

A common question is how playoff results factor in to year-end calculations.  See questions 12 and 30 in the FAQ, but the short answer is that playoff results do count more, and the more matches you play in the playoffs the greater weight is given to them.

So if you are fortunate enough to make it to the playoffs and are trying to improve your rating and get bumped up, make sure you make the matches count and put your best effort forward.  A good or bad result or two can make all the difference in getting you bumped up or not.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The perfect last minute Mother's Day gift for the tennis playing mom

It is the Saturday of Mother's Day weekend and you are yet to get you tennis playing mom (or wife) a gift.  Sure, you can go get the obligatory flowers and she'll like them, but if you want to be unique and give her a memorable gift, how about an Estimated Dynamic NTRP Rating Report?

Many of my customers are women wanting to know where they are rated and if or how close they are getting to being bumped up.  Certainly many of these are mothers and I'm sure many others that fall in the same category would love to get an idea of where their rating is and how individual matches influence their rating.

So if you have a mother or wife that you think would like a unique gift, contact me and we'll get you set up.

I've gone winless (0-7) in USTA League play and my Dynamic NTRP rating has gone up?!

I just created an Estimated Dynamic NTRP Rating Report for someone that had gone 0-7 thus far this year, all at level and not playing up, and was wondering if they were at risk of being bumped down.  The report showed this was not the case and in fact their rating had gone up!  How can this be?

Let's look at the report.

Current NTRP: 4.0C
Estimated DNTRP: 3.66
Match Record: 0-7
Singles Record: -
Doubles Record: 0-7
Sets Won-Lost: 3-14
Games Won-Lost: 59-79
Best Match Result: 4.05 on 3/31/14
Worst Match Result: 3.45 on 3/16/14
Highest Estimated DNTRP: 3.8 on 3/31/14
Lowest Estimated DNTRP: 3.57 on 10/28/13
Singles Average Match Rating: -
Doubles Average Match Rating: 3.72

The winless record and losing 14 of 17 sets would seem to indicate they aren't doing that well, but the rating has gone up about a tenth and they've had three matches rated over 3.8 and one over 4.0!  On the surface, this makes no sense perhaps, but trust me, there is a reason.

The 2/1 match was a match tie-break loss played with a lower-half 4.0 against an upper half 4.0 and a 4.0 rated above 4.0 and likely to get bumped up.  So they were supposed to lose fairly easily and the close win was better than expected and a good result.

The 3/10 match was played with the same partner against two strong 4.0s and also went to a match tie-break, so same reasoning.

The 3/31 match was played with a 3.5 playing up against two very strong 4.0s and again went to a match tie-break.  Getting such a close result with a lower rated partner is a great way to generate a big match rating.

So remember, the NTRP algorithm doesn't really pay attention to win/loss record, instead it looks at the specifics of the ratings of the players involved in the match, the score, and how close the score is to what was expected.  Do better than expected, you get a big match rating.  Do worse, and the match rating could be lower.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Should there be NTRP ratings for different surfaces?

I've written before about singles vs doubles ratings, some players are better at one than the other, and my Estimated Dynamic NTRP Rating Reports now break out singles and doubles stats to help show how a player does at each.

But what about surfaces?  We all know Nadal is the King of Clay while Sampras and Federer dominated at Wimbledon on grass.  And I just got finished playing a tournament on grass and I know it suits my game and I play much better on it than I do on clay or even a gritty slow hard court.

While most USTA League play is probably in hard courts, some areas play on clay, and even hard courts can vary from fast and slick courts to newly surfaced slow gritty courts.  So should NTRP ratings be done for each type of surface or court?

I could certainly make the case to do it.  Unfortunately, the logistics probably preclude it as no one keeps track of the court/surface for the most part and with hard courts varying so much and players not knowing how to characterize them, it would all be a guess.

But what do you think?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A fun way to practice or play tennis with three players

It has happened to us all at some point.  We have a doubles practice match setup and one player can't make it, or you are on vacation with two other guys and don't want to rotate singles.  What to do?

Play Cut Throat!  Or you might hear it referred to as Canadian Doubles or even Australian Doubles.

What is this?  It is where the three players split up, one playing singles (and covering just the singles court) against the other two who are covering their doubles court.  That isn't rocket science (how else would you get three people on the court at once?), but what is interesting is how to use the format and keep track of score.

In one format, only the singles player serves and plays normal games until they are broken and then you rotate.  Only the singles player gets a game when they win and no game is awarded if they are broken.  You do this until one player gets to 6 games.  Since the singles player is usually at a disadvantage, you can go for some time until a server manages to win 6 games.

A variation on the above is to have the singles player serve, and if he loses you rotate like above.  But if he wins, he gets the game/point, and then the doubles team serves.  If the singles player loses, you rotate like above but if he wins again, he gets the game/point and gets to serve again, and this continues.  Again, you can play to 6 games.

Both of the above don't have each player play an equal number of times as the singles player necessarily.  The singles player that wins gets to play the majority of the time there.  If you want to even out the singles play, here is a format for you.

I just played this format yesterday and you have groups of three games where every player serves, and then you rotate.  For example, doubles player 1 serves, then then singles player, then doubles player 2.  One full rotation is complete after each player has played a three game group as the singles player.  And you can do as many of these full rotations as you like.  For scoring, you simply keep track of how many times each player wins a game as the singles player and whomever has won the most after your full rotation(s) are complete is the winner.

This approach has every player getting to play and serve in each situation and equal number of times and the best player on that day should end up with the most points/games.  And it is a great way to work on different parts of your game whether you are a doubles or singles player.

Do you play Cut Throat in some other format?  Leave a comment to let folks know.

Update on USTA Leagues in Northern Virginia (NOVA)

I wrote a few weeks ago about some turmoil in Northern Virginia where the League Coordinator had gotten fed up with the USTA and was going to run the 18 & over leagues separate from the USTA.  Here is an update of what I have learned as transpired.

It appears that the USTA has stepped in and will directly run the USTA 18 & over leagues, but the LC is also going to run effectively the same leagues in parallel.  Teams will have the option of playing in one or the other, both, or I suppose neither.

One could look at this as a positive from a player's standpoint as this has just increased their playing opportunities as there are two leagues to play in now.  The challenge will be with courts, as apparently the LC contracted with the clubs for the courts and is keeping them for the non-USTA league, so the USTA is having to scramble to find courts for the USTA league they will be directly running.

If anyone has more details or is a player in either league, please comment and let us know how it is working out.