Monday, September 7, 2015

I'm an early start 4.5, but I can still play 4.0 in USTA League and Tournaments?

Early start lists for 2016 USTA League play are out in many sections and districts.  I've written before about what early start ratings are and why they are used, but it can still be confusing, especially when your NTRP rating on TennisLink still shows your old level, you can still play in tournaments at your old level, and you can continue playing on existing or even new teams at your old level.

Let me address each of these one by one to hopefully help clear things up.  And remember, the definition of an early start rating is that it is one intended for use in a "next year", e.g. 2016 right now, league that is starting early.

First, for whatever reason, when looking at a player, whether searching for their league play or actually looking up their rating, TennisLink only shows your current (e.g. 2014 right now) year-end rating, unless you were subject to being DQ'd and promoted in which case it will show that rating.  The system does have record of your early start rating as when you sign up for an early start league it does validate your are at the proper level, and when you use the special team numbers to appeal, it also knows your early start rating, but it is not generally published or viewable anywhere on the site that I can tell.

So while it is a pain, you have to accept your early start rating won't be displayed normally on TennisLink and refer to your section, district, or area early start list that is published on the respective Web-site, often as a PDF.  I have a page with links to the lists that I've seen but let me know if you see any missing.

Second, players are generally allowed to continue playing tournaments at their old level even if they have been bumped up.  Now, I believe tournament directors have discretion here so could elect to not allow players to play at their old level, but I don't know of any that do so.  The reason here is that because the early start rating is for next year's leagues that start early, a tournament does not fit that criteria so your current year-end rating, e.g. what continues to show on TennisLink is still in effect.

So if you've been early start bumped, relish the fact that the USTA lets you continue to play at your old level and go try to win the tournament while you still can.  Of course, you can elect to play up at your early start level and challenge yourself.

Third, remember that the early start rating is for 2016 leagues that are starting early.  This typically means those 18 & over, 40 & over, or 55 & over Adult or Mixed leagues that a section or district elects to start early as I've described before.  It does not apply to leagues that are already in progress or that are still part of 2015.  So if your league name has "2015" in it, you can still play or register at your current (2014 year-end) level, but if it has "2016" in it, you have to use your early start level, or when year-end ratings come out, the level you are at then.

Hopefully that helps clear things up!