Sunday, March 29, 2015

Need a ringer for your USTA League team? Find a sandbagging Senior!

USTA League team captains that are looking to make a run at/in playoffs will typically recruit players that are considered strong for their level.  One candidate group of players are those that were able to appeal down as they in theory were rated just into the range of the next higher level, but met the criteria to be able to appeal down.

There is actually a special class of these appeals that I hadn't thought about in this context before, the players that are able to take advantage of the Senior appeal rules.  As you'll see below, these players should really be in high demand.

For those that aren't aware, players age 60 and over that get bumped up are able to automatically appeal back down if they were at their former level for 3 consecutive years without the benefit of an appeal.  Players that are 65 and over won't even be bumped up in this situation.

Some seniors think these rules are discriminatory as it doesn't allow them to be recognized for improving their games, particularly those 65 and over.  They have a point, but the USTA rule is what it is.

The reason I bring this up is that when working on a ratings list today I came across a player that had played 30 matches as a 4.0 in 18 & over, 40 & over, and 55 & over leagues and my Estimated Dynamic NTRP Ratings had him at 4.40 to end the year.  How on earth could someone with a rating that high that played 30 matches appeal down?  The appeal rules are clear, playing 30 matches would make a player ineligible for appeal, let alone my estimated rating having the player a lot closer to being a 5.0 than a 4.0.

After a few seconds, I had an "aha" moment and determined that the player must be over 60 and thus could take advantage of the 60 & over appeal down rule.  Sure enough, they'd had a 4.0C rating for the past several years without using an appeal, and they played in a 60 & over league a few years ago, so it all made sense.

For what its worth, this player clearly seems to be more than able to play at the 4.5 level.  While they did only play 4.0 in 2014, they went 26-4 including play in 18 & over and 40 & over leagues including 5-0 in 55 & over playoffs and finishing the year winning 11 straight and giving up only one set in that span and generating two match ratings into the range for a 5.0.  Here is a synopsis of their record and ratings chart:

Match Record: 26-4
Sets Won-Lost: 54-9
Games Won-Lost: 349-179
Best Match Result: 4.61 on 4/12/14
Worst Match Result: 3.65 on 2/23/14
Highest Estimated Dynamic Rating: 4.41 on 4/12/14
Lowest Estimated Dynamic Rating: 3.89 on 3/1/14

Does this look like a player that should remain a 4.0?

I'm sure this is an exception and most Seniors that are able to use this rule to appeal down are not a full 0.4 into the next higher NTRP level, but this one does seem like a case of the rule unfairly allowing an appeal down where the player could more than hold their own at the next higher level.

For what its worth, in 2015 so far, this player is 12-1 playing 4.0, so cleaning up again.  So they'll be bumped up at year-end and not be able to appeal down again right?  Well, they might be 65 next year and so won't even be bumped up!

So if you are looking for that ringer for your team, don't forget to look for a 60 year old that was bumped up and appealed down.  They may really be a solid level higher player and carry your team!