Thursday, June 23, 2016

USTA Southern decides how to handle early start league players that get bumped up

I wrote earlier this year about the changes with Early Start Leagues, specifically that there will not be Early Start Ratings published this year and any 2017 leagues that start early in the Summer/Fall of 2016 will have players using their 2015 year-end ratings.

I also wrote about the issue that arises because of this, that sections must decide what to do with players that are bumped up at year-end.  Specifically, will they be able to continue playing at the lower level after year-end ratings come out and if so, for how long?  This decision is required because the USTA has said that bumped up players will not be able to play at their early start level at Nationals if they were bumped up at year-end.

I've heard that the Southern section has decided what to do and it is unfortunately to allow players to continue to play at their early start (lower) level through Sectionals.  Why do I say this is unfortunate?

In my opinion, allowing players to continue to play after they are bumped up and they know they won't be eligible to play at Nationals is not fair to their competition.  You could have a scenario where the team that wins Sectionals has half or more of its players that were bumped up and won't be eligible to go to Nationals.  So you could have a section champ sending a significantly weaker team to Nationals than played at Sectionals, or perhaps they can't even field one.  Sure, the runner up could then go, but what if they have the same situation?  How far back do you go?

And if the Sectional champ that now can't go to Nationals had a close 3-2 win at State, or even local playoffs, and kept another team that would be fully eligible from advancing on and having a chance to make it, that is quite unfair to them.

Even if the Sectional champ can field a team at Nationals, if they are missing their best players, they aren't going to represent the section well, so why would the section be in favor of doing this?

I understand the desire to let teams continue to play as long as possible, but playoffs should be considered a reward and in my opinion, limited to teams that you know will be eligible to continue to advance.

What do you think?