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 http://www.texas.usta.com/UsaLeagueTennis/2015_early_season_league_ratings