Friday, June 26, 2015

I went 1-3 and got disqualified from my USTA League NTRP level! Correctly predicting NTRP DQ's

Ok, it wasn't me, but I was told about a situation where a player played four matches, winning just one, and was 3-strike DQ'd and promoted up a level.

On the surface, it wouldn't seem like a 1-3 record should result in any more than one strike let alone three, but unexpected DQs can happen like I've written about before.  If we take a closer look at this one, it appears it is another as my ratings agree with and would have predicted the strikes and DQ.

In this case, the player was a self-rated 4.5 and playing in a 4.5+ league.  That alone can increase the chances of getting strikes because the player may end up playing against 5.0s, so it is similar to playing up which is often a sure fire recipe for getting strikes.  But what do my Estimated Dynamic NTRP Ratings say about these four matches?

The first match was indeed played against two 5.0s, and with a 4.5 partner.  The 4 & 2 loss was considered more than respectable in this case and the computer says it generated a rating well into the range for a 5.0.  Strike 1.

The second match was a match tie-break loss but not against any 5.0s this time, but one opponent was a 4.5 that had appealed down so a strong one.  This match did not generate a strike, but still resulted in a very high 4.5 match rating.

The third match was a 1 & 1 win against a good and very good 4.5 playing with a so-so 4.5.  The computer looks at that and says the self-rated player had to be the reason for such a lopsided score and resulted in another very high rating.  Strike 2.

The last match was a 1 & 3 loss against some good 4.5s and resulted in a high in the range for a 4.5 match rating, but the way the algorithm works the dynamic rating is calculated from the prior ratings too and the result was a dynamic rating still over the threshold for a strike despite the match itself not being over.  Strike 3.

That is what my ratings say, what did the USTA say?  I received a copy of the DQ letter and it indeed identified the three matches I did as the strikes.

So another DQ that my ratings got right.  If you'd heard of or seen a strange DQ, let me know about it and I'll take a look.

Monday, June 22, 2015

2015 USTA League Nationals Schedule is Availalble

For teams with Nationals aspirations, it is never too early to start looking at the schedule for USTA League Nationals.  The schedule is out, and I've summarized it below.

It looks a lot like last year's, but does start a week earlier and some of the locations have changed while some stayed the same.


Date Division Level Location
Oct. 2-4 18 & over 5.0+ Indian Wells
Oct. 2-4 18 & over 3.0 Tucson
Oct. 2-4 18 & over 4.0 Rancho Mirage
Oct. 9-11 18 & over 3.5 Indian Wells
Oct. 9-11 18 & over 4.5 Rancho Mirage
Oct. 16-18 18 & over 2.5 Indian Wells
Oct. 16-18 40 & over 3.0 Tucson
Oct. 23-25 40 & over 3.5 Tucson
Oct. 23-25 40 & over 4.5+ Indian Wells
Oct. 23-25 55 & over 6.0 & 8.0 Surprise
Oct. 30-Nov. 1 40 & over 4.0 Indian Wells
Oct. 30-Nov. 1 55 & over 7.0 & 9.0 Surprise


Date Division Level Location
Nov. 13-15 18 & over 2.5, 7.0, & 9.0 Tucson
Nov. 13-15 40 & over 6.0 & 8.0 Surprise
Nov. 20-22 18 & over 6.0, 8.0, & 10.0 Tucson
Nov. 20-22 40 & over 7.0 & 9.0 Surprise

Given this schedule, I'd expect that the 2015 league year will end November 1st meaning all matches in league that count towards NTRP ratings played through that date will be included and matches after that will be part of the 2016 league year.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Last minute gift for that tennis playing father - an Estimated Dynamic NTRP Rating Report

Tomorrow is Father's Day and for those with a father or husband that plays USTA League, a perfect and unique last minute gift may be an Estimated Dynamic NTRP Rating Report.

I've done several recently for children of wives and feedback is that the fathers love them as they get to see an accurate estimate of their dynamic rating and can see how they are progressing towards a goal.

If you are interested, contact me and I'll get the report done and to you as soon as possible.

Monday, June 15, 2015

USTA League playoffs are in full swing and each section is a little unique

It is that time of year when regular season play in Spring USTA leagues is complete and playoffs have begun.  This past weekend saw playoffs occurring in some Southern states as well as the Pacific Northwest and I was fortunate to help a number of teams with reports across both and was excited to see some advance on to Sectionals.  It wasn't from this weekend, but I have actually worked with a team that is already headed to Nationals!

Because of regional and geographic differences, it is always interesting to see how playoffs progress.

For example, in the Southern section, each district is a complete state and teams may advance directly to "State" or some may play a local playoff against another team or teams from their local area to qualify.  But oftentimes there are wildcards that qualify to advance too so it isn't uncommon to see multiple teams from an area at State.  The winners from State then advance on to Sectionals, and again I think there are cases where a wildcard, say the second place team from a state, may advance on to Sectionals.

In the Pacific Northwest, we have what are called our local playoffs, but they are effectively our Districts as the winners advance on to Sectionals.  But this is typically more than just a playoff against one other team, most levels have a draw of 6 or 8 teams that must be won to advance on to Sectionals, but again, sometimes there is a wildcard that also advances.

Northern California has Districts and Sectionals, but they don't actually have different districts organizationally, they just take a subset of the areas to play Districts with winners advancing on to Sectionals.

There are a few areas in Eastern where the road is even longer though with potentially local playoffs, Regionals, Districts, and Sectionals having to be navigated to get to Nationals.

The easiest path to Nationals?  Typically that is to come from the Hawaii section.  There, you may just have to win a handful of matches in local league to get your spot at Nationals.

If you've qualified for playoffs, congratulations.  If your local league is still playing, you still have a shot to get there!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

PNW/Seattle USTA League 40 & over local playoffs are complete, off to Sectionals

I wrote up some previews of the local playoffs that took place in the Seattle area for the 40 & over leagues, so I thought a recap would be in order.

For the 3.0 women, the two highest rated teams met in the final and CAC/SL-Peters pulled the minor upset.  Going in to playoffs their top-8 average was 0.02 lower, but based on the players who played in the match they were supposed to win 3-2 but pulled the upset on one court winning 4-1.  Both teams are off to Sectionals.

The 3.0 men had a top-3 pretty close, and the 3rd team, CP-Graves, pulled off the win getting a minor upset in each of their two matches over AYTC-Welland.

The 3.5 women saw the highest rated team, MI-Ko, make the final against the lowest rated, but no score has been entered yet.  I believe MI-Ko beat EDG-Kainz though.

The 3.5 men had a loaded field with just 0.04 separating the top-5 on top-8 average rating, and the top team, CP-Ho played the 5th team AYTC-Diaz got the 3-2 win all courts going as expected.

The 4.0 women saw the 3rd highest rated team, BELL-Anders, beat the highest rated AYTC-Wilson, 3-2, but based on who played, it could have been 5-0 with AYTC pulling two minor upsets to get it close.

The 4.0 men had the highest average, PL-McGuire, play the 5th highest, BELL-Trott, and win 4-1 with one small upset each way, the other matches as expected.

The 4.5+ women had the top 2 teams meet and the one 0.01 behind, BC-Strieb, beat HBSQ-Ferrin 3-2, every court going as expected.

The 4.5+ men saw the 2nd highest team, EDG-Kelly beat out the 4th highest, CAC/SL-Tinsley 3-2, each team pulling a minor upset.

In all cases, both finalist are headed to Sectionals as there were wildcards.  Good luck in Spokane in August teams!

Slow play and stalling in USTA League play, the pros do it too

We've all seen it or played against it.  An player prefers to play slowly, whether a fitness issue, tactic to get in their opponent's head, or just the pace they like to play, and matches drag out and players get frustrated.  In doubles where points are shorter and fitness should be less of an issue, it can be particularly frustrating when a side feels they need to have a conference between each and every point.

There has been a discussion on the Tennis Warehous Talk Tennis Forum where pace of play has been discussed and while the code and rules of tennis call for play to be relatively speedy and/or at the pace of the server, there is little that can be done in the absence of an official if play becomes slow and drawn out.

In fact, I was watching a USTA League local playoff match last weekend and saw perhaps the worst exhibition of slow play I've seen.  Without going into all the details, every trick was used from saying they couldn't hear the score and asking it to be repeated, picking up balls slowly, excessive time at change overs, to outright just waiting for what seemed like an eternity between points.  A roving official was there but elected to do mostly nothing it appeared, although at one point I think she told the players to shut up and play or something to that effect.

But the problem isn't unique to recreational players.  Those that watch the ATP and WTA tours know there are some players that like to play quickly and others that tend to be slower.  Here, there are rules the officials can enforce for time between points (25 seconds for ATP and 20 seconds for Grand Slams) and some players take it right to and over the edge.  The ATP has been enforcing the rule a bit more the last few years much to the chagrin of some players who are losing first serves when they go over the limit.

Carl Bialik just wrote a great article on the subject looking at objective data and showing how some players tend to be clearly slower or faster than average and the effect it has on length of matches.  He shows how the rule enforcement has helped speed up matches some in the past few years.  Give it a read.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

USTA League Season is over, time to find out our dynamic NTRP rating

What?  The 2015 season is over?

Ok, the season isn't over, there is still a lot of tennis to be played this year still.  But in some areas, Spring season is over or wrapping up and for some that is the only league they'll play that counts towards their rating, so for the purposes of the dynamic rating, yes, their season is over.

What areas are these?  The Southern section has their main USTA leagues in the Spring and those leagues are complete with local playoffs occurring and State playoffs happening over the next few weeks.  Now some districts in Southern to have early start leagues in the Fall that do count, so those players may still play matches that will affect their rating.

So if you are in the South and are done for the year and want to know where you are likely to finish the year, now is a great time to get an Estimated Dynamic NTRP Rating Report.  But even if you aren't done for the year, you can still get a report to see where you stand and how you are doing towards your goal to be bumped up.