Friday, July 31, 2015

What would happen to your NTRP rating if you had to deal with this? How the Blue Angels and tennis go together at Seattle Tennis Club

The Washington Open is taking place this week/weekend at Seattle Tennis Club.  It is a beautiful location, right on Lake Washington with views of Mt. Rainier, and regardless of the quality of tennis a nice play to enjoy a warm summer day.  But with an excellent open and age category draw, there is a lot of good tennis to watch too.

The tournament takes place at the same time as Seafair which means the Blue Angels are in town.  And in the days leading up to Seafair weekend, they practice over Lake Washington where they will perform.  It turns out their flight path is right over Seattle Tennis Club which can make for some interesting tennis.

For those that have not seen the Blue Angels or see other military jets flying at near full thrust, it is a bit noisy.  This video gives you a rough idea of what it is like.  Be sure to turn your volume up.

The geography and how they approach the lake gives players very little warning that they are coming by so you could be mid-point or about to toss your ball in the air to serve when 120 decibels goes roaring over head.  Needless to say it can cause some delays, but I think the players sort of become accustom to it as the practice goes on for at least an hour.  But the sudden roar right when you are approaching the net to get that break of serve could be a little disconcerting to say the least.

Once the Blue Angels practice was over, I could focus on the tennis and there was some great tennis, men and women.  It was nice to see a few players from my club do well and I'll be headed back tomorrow to see how they do in the semis.  Good luck!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Preliminary - Checking the PNW Early Start Ratings against my Estimated Dynamic NTRP Ratings, 96% accurate!

I wrote a bit ago that the PNW Early Start Ratings are out.  I will try to do a more comprehensive analysis soon, but I did a quick check of players from several teams at my club and of the 10 or so that were given bumps, I had all but one correct.  And of the remaining that weren't bumped, I only predicted one that should have been.  So that is roughly 48 for 50 or 96% accurate with no margin of error.

I'm not sure that high rate will hold up when I look across a larger set of players, but I'm pretty pleased with it.  I've always said my estimates aren't perfect, but 96% is not too bad.

Pacific Northwest Early Start Ratings are out!

As promised, the PNW USTA Web-site now has the 2016 Early Start Ratings published.  These ratings are used by players that play in an 2016 early start league, e.g. a 2016 league that starts in the Fall.  In many areas of the PNW this may be an 18 & over Mixed league or some of the 55 & over or 65 & over leagues are played in the Fall.

Early start ratings are based on any Adult 18 & over, 40 & over, or 55 & over matches played between November 10th 2014 and July 20th 2015, Tri-Level, Mixed, or 65 & over matches are not included.  And while these ratings are used for the 2016 leagues that start in the Fall, your year-end rating may be different and it is the year-end rating that will be used for any 2016 leagues that start after year-end ratings come out near the beginning of December.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pacific Northwest USTA League Early Start Ratings for 2016 to be published this Friday

The PNW USTA site was just updated to say that the early start ratings for 2016 leagues that start this Fall will be published this Friday the 24th.  Check there on Friday as I believe they will show up there, or follow this blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ as I'll be writing about them as soon as they show up.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Do I have to play up to be bumped up in USTA League - Interesting Tennis League Stats

In USTA League play, a player may play at their established NTRP level or subject to some limitations, they may play up a level.  This is done for a variety of reasons including:

  • The higher level team is short on players and needs spots filled
  • The player wants to play with their friends that are on the higher level team
  • The player is bored at their level
  • The player thinks playing up will help them be bumped up

The last reason listed is a commonly held belief and it does have some truth to it.  When you play up, you are likely playing higher rated opponents and when you do that there is more opportunity to improve your rating.  However, it is not a given that playing up will improve your rating and result in a bump, in fact, if a player is not ready for the next level and just gets continually blown out, their rating could go down.  For example, winning an at-level match 6-3,6-3 may be better than losing a played up match 6-3,6-3.  If the player isn't ready for the next level, this can also make for uncompetitive matches which isn't good for any of the players involved.  Sometimes playing at the right level and improving from competitive matches is a better way to improve your rating.

All that said, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at bump data to see what we can tell about bumps and playing up and any correlation between them.

What I did was to look at the computer rated players that were bumped up at 2014 year-end and how many played up in a 18 & over or 40 & over league.  Here are two charts showing for each gender the number of players bumped up that played up and didn't.

First the men:
We can see that the majority of bumps up are at 3.5, 4.0, and 4.5 and a fair number to 5.0 too.  But the percentage that play up decreases as the level goes up.  Of the bumps to 3.0, 91% played up but at 4.5, the percentage is just 38%.

Now the women:
While the raw numbers and distribution for the women is different, there are a lot more players bumped up to 3.0, the decreasing percentage that played up is evident here too with 80% playing up to get bumped up to 3.0 and 52% at 4.5.

So does this mean you have to play up to get bumped up?  Certainly not, large numbers of players are bumped up that don't play up.  But especially at the lower levels it appears more of those that are bumped up do play up than don't.

And one could make the argument that these players that play up would have been bumped up anyway.  To check this, I used my Estimated Dynamic NTRP Ratings to look at a few players that played up and compared their average match rating in at level vs played up matches.

One man that was bumped up to 4.5 that did better in his 4.0 matches, a 4.20 average, than his 4.5 matches, a 3.87 average.

A woman that was bumped up to 3.5 did better in her 3.5 matches, a 3.38 average vs a 3.03 average playing 3.0.  But another one bumped up to 3.5 did better in her 3.0 matches, a 2.94, to a 2.86 3.5 average.  Note she was bumped up due to a good run in playoffs at the end of the year.

Now, this is just looking at a few players, but it appears that playing up can help you get bumped up, but in some cases, players get bumped up in spite of playing up as they actually do better playing at level.

So, if you feel the urge to play up, stop and think about it first and try to make sure that you really are winning most of your matches at your own level, perhaps even doing so easily.  If you aren't, playing up may actually hurt your chances to be bumped up.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

PNW USTA League 55+ Sectionals wrapping up today

The Pacific Northwest section of the USTA is holding the 55 & over Sectionals this weekend in Spokane, WA and are wrapping up today.

Looking at results as of this morning, it appears we have the following:

  • Women's 6.0 - Two Seattle area teams from Sand Point and Robinswood are in the final.  These teams finished first and second in their sub-flight, TCSP winning 2-1 and 3-0, then played again in local playoffs TCSP winning 2-1.  Can the beat RBW a fourth time to go to Nationals?
  • Men's 6.0 - A Southwest Washington team from Tacoma, Sprinker, faces a Portland team from Cascade Athletic Club in the final.
  • Women's 7.0 - Two Northwest Washington/Seattle teams face off here too, Amy Yee vs Eastside.  These teams faced each other in local playoffs AYTC winning 2-1.
  • Men's 7.0 - A Southern Oregon team, Courthouse, faces an Eastern Washington team.
  • Women's 8.0 - The Seattle stranglehold for the women is broken and an Eastern Washington team,  PEAK-Servick faces a Northern Oregon team from Lake Oswego.
  • Men's 8.0 - Tacoma/Lakewood faces Southern Oregon/Courthouse.
  • Women's 9.0 - Seattle is back with Harbor Square facing Amy Yee.  Harbor Square won both regular season matches.
  • Men's 9.0 - Seattle/Central Park faces Portland/Lake Oswego.

It looks like a good representation of different districts have made the finals although it is weighted a bit towards Seattle especially for the women.

Good luck today teams.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Another interesting USTA League Dynamic NTRP disqualification correctly predicted by my ratings

I've written about interesting disqualifications I've come across before, and I recently learned about one that I thought was worthwhile writing about.

This player was DQ'd despite having a losing record, but I've see this happen before with a 1-3 record and another with a 2-4 record.  What is unique about this new one is it was in just 3 matches with a 1-2 record.  So there is no guessing as to which matches were strikes!

So how can a player go 1-2 and get DQ'd?

Using my Estimated Dynamic NTRP Ratings, here is the player's chart.

The chart shows the self-rated 4.0 had ratings well into the 4.5 range for each match, each being a strike.  So my ratings agree with/correctly predict the strikes and DQ yet again.

The player played doubles the first two matches losing both but by close scores.  That alone isn't going to generate a strike though, otherwise a lot more self-rated players would get strikes.  What caused these matches to be rated so high is that the opponents were high rated 4.0s, but more importantly the partner was a pretty low rated 4.0.  This is a recipe for a strike as the computer looks at the ratings of the players involved and figures the self-rate has to be really good to have carried a low rated partner to such a close loss against strong opponents.

Then the third match was a lopsided singles win that was high rated and would seem to confirm that the self-rate really was that good and carried the partner in the doubles losses.

So yes, it is possible to get strikes and be DQ'd with a losing record in just 3 matches.

If you are aware of any other strange or unexpected DQ's, let me know.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

2016 USTA League Early Start Ratings are out or due out soon

The USTA League year generally runs from November thru October, the year ending when the last Nationals are complete.  Ending around the end of October (sometimes it is just into November) gives the USTA a few weeks to crunch the numbers before the year-end NTRP ratings are published, usually the Monday after Thanksgiving.  These ratings are what players will use to play in leagues in the subsequent year.

However, some sections have leagues for the following year that start early.

For example, in my section, the Pacific Northwest, our 2015 18 & over Mixed and 55 & over Adult leagues were both played in the Fall of 2014.  This is done to spread out the seasons and not overlap with the 18 & Over and 40 & Over Adult leagues which are played in the Winter/Spring which evens out the court demands.

But some sections have early start leagues to just provide more playing opportunities, and in turn create more ways to make it to playoffs.  For example, in Georgia they have 18 & over and/or 40 & over teams played in each of Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall, with the 2015 Summer and Fall leagues actually starting in 2014.  And with a fairly liberal definition of Summer, that means that there were "2015" matches played as early as May of 2014.

With these leagues being played so early, and their Nationals being potentially a full 17 months after they start play, one has to think about what NTRP level players should be eligible to play at.  If a player gets bumped up from 3.5 to 4.0 at the end of 2014, it doesn't seem fair that they should get to go play as a 3.5 in 2015 Districts, Sectionals, and Nationals, but with play starting in May of 2014, those year-end ratings are a full 7 months away.  Similarly, a player on their way down doesn't want to be punished by having to play at too high a level a full 7 months before being officially bumped down.

The solution is Early Start Ratings.  The idea is to publish a list of ratings shortly before these early start league begin that identify a more accurate level for a player than their current year-end rating.  This (hopefully) precludes that 4.0 player from being able to play on that early start 3.5 team.  Again, an example would be useful.

Say a player was a 2013 year-end 3.5, but did very well in their Winter and/or Spring league and has their dynamic rating into the range for a 4.0.  It would appear they are on their way to being bumped up at the end of 2014 to 4.0 so it would make sense for them to play in this early start 2015 league as a 4.0.  The early start list does this by being published based on player's current dynamic rating, so this player would be required to play as a 4.0 in this league.

Now, this helps the situation, but isn't perfect.  Players may not be bumped up on the early start list but are at year-end, or they can be bumped up on an early start list and come back down at year-end.  And player's in the former case are subject to some interesting strike/DQ rules.  But it is generally accepted that using early start lists is better than letting players play at a level that may be woefully out dated and inappropriate.

With all that preamble I can now get around to saying that in my section, our early start ratings for 2016 early start leagues is due out next week and other section's will be out this or next month as well.  But in Georgia, they had early start ratings way back in March and will have another list in August.

When is your early start list being published?

Update: I write this and then learn that Texas has published their early start list today.  See

Friday, July 3, 2015

Who has played the most USTA league matches this calendar year? - Interesting Tennis League Stats

I wrote earlier today about who has played the most 2015 league year matches, but that isn't really fair as it has a bias towards sections and areas that have early start leagues.

So I thought I'd take a look at the number of matches played during this calendar year, e.g. since January 1.

For the women, leading the way is a Maryland player with 70, then a Southern Californian with 56.

For the men, a player from San Jose has played 57 and then a Virginian with 46.

That is certainly a lot of league play, averaging around 8-12 league matches per month.  How many of you have ever played 8 in a month, roughly 2 per week?

Who has played the most USTA league matches? - Interesting Tennis League Stats

I wrote earlier this week about where players have played the most USTA leagues.  The natural next question is where players have played the most league matches.

Again, looking across the main 18 & over, 40 & over, and 55 & over leagues and in leagues that are part of the 2015 league year, some areas do stand out.

For the women, leading the way is a player from Athens Alabama that has played a whopping 82 league matches so far.  How can this be?  They've taken advantage of their proximity to Georgia and played in both states, and with both states multiple 2015 seasons that started around a year ago, there have been lots of opportunities.

Another from Montgomery Alabama has tallied 75 matches, and another female from Marco Island Florida has gotten to 73, also taking advantage of early start leagues.  After that there are others in the 60s and 70s from Maryland, Texas, New Jersey, Missouri, and Georgia, but there are more from Alabama near the top than any other.

What about the men?  A player from Madison Alabama has totaled 88 matches played, and the next two are from Decatur and Madison Alabama at 71 and 68 and then one from Columbus Georgia at 60.  Some other states with players in the 50s include California, Minnesota, Illinois, and South Carolina.

So you all have a goal now, you need to get to 70+ matches to compete with those that play the most!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Who has played in the most leagues? - Interesting Tennis League Stats

It is July and in some sections of the country, the 18 & over and 40 & over leagues are done while in others they are mid-season.  In any case, league play is far enough along that we can start to take a look at some interesting tennis league statistics.

No, I'm not able to track the rally hit point for USTA League players, I just thought it was a cool graphic.  But one stat that is always fun to look at is who is able to play in the most leagues.  Now, this is really a function of playing opportunities so it actually tells us something about where those are.

So, taking a look across the 18 & over, 40 & over, and 55 & over leagues, I found a female player that has played in a whopping 16 different 2015 leagues.  The hail from the Chicago area and have taken advantage of playing in both Chicago and Northern Illinois districts, and in each have played in a variety of early start, summer, winter, 18+, 40+, 55+ leagues and when you put all the combinations together arrive at 16.

But close behind are two other females with 15 leagues played in that also hail from the Chicago area.  Alabama, Georgia, and Maryland appear in the list with players with 13 leagues played in.

For the men, I came across a player, also in Chicago, with 13 leagues played in.  And yes, Chicago holds down most of the next spots with 12 and 11 leagues played in.  Georgia has a player with 11 also and Alabama one with 10.

So it appears Chicago provides many opportunities to play USTA League.  I was a bit surprised, I'd expected to see more players from Maryland/Virginia/D.C. show up given how easy it is for players there to play in multiple areas, but it looks like Chicago has a plethora of different seasons to choose from that adds up.

How many leagues have you been able to play in?