Sunday, September 25, 2016

The First 2016 USTA League Nationals Champions are crowned

The first weekend of the 2016 USTA League National Championships was played this weekend meaning the first titles have been claimed, all in the 18 & over division, and played in Mobile and Palm Springs.

At the 2.5 level, only the women had Nationals, and Florida, Southern, Caribbean, and Pacific Northwest found their way into the semi-finals and after two tight 2-1 matches, PNW played Florida and took home the title winning 3-0.

The 4.0 women had Caribbean, PNW, Southern, and New England in the semis with Caribbean and Southern making the final, both winning 3-2, and Southern winning it all 3-2.

The 4.0 men saw Intermountain, Florida, Texas, and Northern California advance to the semis, NorCal and Intermountain both winning close 3-2 matches with NorCal winning 3-2 again in the final.

The 5.0+ women had NorCal, Southern, and Middle States win their flights, and Southern Cal advance as a wildcard, with NorCal and Southern making the final, and Southern winning the title 2-1.

Last, the 5.0+ men had Missouri Valley, Southern (wildcard) and Texas win their flights and Intermountain joining them as the wildcard, Texas and Southern both winning 2-1 and Southern winning the final 2-1.

Close matches all around it appears, but Southern rules the day with semi-finalist in 4 of 5 levels/genders and 3 championships taken home.

I have started the 2016 National Champions Page where you can see a summary of all the semi-finalists and champions.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

2016 USTA League Nationals start this Friday! 2.5, 4.0, and 5.0+ get underway for 18+

2016 USTA League Nationals get underway this Friday with the 18 & over 2.5 and 5.0+ levels playing in Mobile, AL and the 4.0 level being played in Rancho Mirage, CA.

As a taste of what one can get in a flight report to scout opponents at Nationals, here is a full roster average for a flight being played this weekend.

This is one flight from Women's 4.0 championship has what appears to be a number of competitive teams.

Team NameAverage Rating
Intermountain - WYOMING3.88
Texas - Wichita Falls3.82
Middle States - AMD3.76

While there is a 0.12 spread here, using full roster averages means a large roster or carrying some players playing up can artificially lower an average.  And Caribbean is, well, an island, and so doesn't have much connection to other sections and how they compare and will do always has a little variance.

If you are interested in seeing more details including the top-8 average to show how strong a team as with their best, and seeing the average of who played by court so you can see if a team tends to stack or not, a flight report is what you need.  I can of course do team reports too offering even more details.

So good luck to all those playing this weekend and play well!

Friday, September 16, 2016

2016 USTA League Sectionals continues this weekend

The first 2016 Nationals starts next weekend (18+ 2.5, 4.0, and 5.0+), but there are still teams trying to get to Nationals this weekend as several more Sectionals are being held.  This includes (and there may be others):

  • Intermountain 40+ Adult
  • Southern 55+ Adult
  • Mid-Atlantic 40+ Mixed
  • Pacific Northwest 40+ Mixed
  • Pacific Northwest 55+ Mixed

Good luck to all those playing!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Does the USTA give preference to the Southern section for USTA League Nationals?

The USTA has finished publishing the flights and scheduled for the 18 & over Nationals being held later this month and October.  See my earlier blog post on the schedule to see when and where each level will be played and I've added links to the PDFs the USTA published.

As I was reviewing which sections were assigned to which flights, I noticed that the 5.0+ men and women both have wildcards and in both cases they are from the Southern section.

The first question is, why are there wildcards?

For the women, there are 14 sections represented, and this doesn't work well with two flights (7 teams) or three or four flights (different numbers of teams in each flight), so you can see that a wildcard gets you to 15 teams which nicely fits into three flights.

For the men though, there are just 12 sections represented which would have made for a nice three flights of four teams each, but instead there is one wildcard and 13 teams with one flight having give teams.  My only guess is that the USTA thought two more sections would send teams like was done for the women, and so would have five teams in each flight and needed the wildcard, but then two teams elected not to go but the wildcard had already been invited so couldn't very well rescind the invite.

If that is the case, I'm not sure why the second place team from those other sections didn't go, or why they didn't extend more wildcard invites, but perhaps they did and there just wasn't time for other teams to make the plans.  If anyone knows the real reason, feel free to comment here or on Facebook.

But then the question becomes, from what section should the wildcard(s) come from?  And why did Southern get both the men's and women's?  Is the USTA showing favoritism to Southern?

Again, guessing here, but I think I have the likely answer.  In my section (Pacific Northwest), we used to have a rotating wildcard from the different districts for Sectionals when there was a need for a team or two to fill out the flights.  This changed a few years ago so that the wildcard simply go, in order, to the districts that fielded the most teams at a given level.  In the PNW's case, this usually means Seattle and Portland get the first two wildcards as those districts have more teams than Southwest Washington, Southern Oregon, Eastern Washington, etc.

So, if the same logic is used for wildcards at Nationals, I believe that Southern, being the largest section with a whopping nine states represented, likely has the most teams at the 18+ 5.0+ level and so they are granted the wildcards.

If anyone knows for sure or has another theory, please comment.  But perhaps the USTA isn't showing favoritism to Southern after all, and they are simply applying what would be pretty logical rules.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Why early start ratings were a good thing for USTA League - A look at the problems we'll face in 2017

I've written before about the USTA doing away with early start ratings for 2017 and commented on why I thought it wasn't a good decision.  Well, I've come across a team that shows exactly why that is the case.

I came across a Mixed 8.0 team that is playing in an early start league and like most 8.0 teams is made of up a mix of 3.5s, 4.0s, and 4.5s.  Presently, this team has ways to field as many as four 4.5M/3.5W pairs and three 4.0M/4.0W pairs for a given match.

That's not bad, even if a few players are bumped up and become ineligible to play at their rostered levels, they should be able to still field a good team.  The problem is, this team may have more than just a few players bumped up.  And since this team is playing in a section where ineligible players won't be able to play at Sectionals, this could be an issue.

If my Estimated Dynamic NTRP Ratings are accurate at all, it is entirely possible that three of their 4.5 men could be bumped up making them ineligible to play on the team at all since they'd be 5.0s.  Ok, but they still have 4.0 men right?  Yes, but two of those are likely to be bumped up to 4.5.  Ok, but those could still play with 3.5 women right?  Yes, but four of those are likely to be bumped up to 4.0.

So, this team that has 16 players on the roster, could end up being able to field only two pairs after year-end bumps.  They'd have several 4.5 men but only one 3.5 woman, and then a bunch of 4.0 women but only one 4.0 man.  A few players are borderline bumps so there is a chance they could field a third pair, but just two pairs is entirely possible.

Now, this team is not doing anything illegal.  The USTA has elected to have teams formed using 2016 year-end ratings and all these players were computer rated at year-end.  But it is entirely possible that this team could beat up on teams in local league and still be able to use these players as rostered in local playoffs and win there, but then not be able to field a team for Sectionals.

Sure, if the team can't field a team, the runner up can be offered the spot.  But it still isn't really fair to the teams that had to play the team during the regular season or playoffs.  Some team will miss out on a playoff spot to this team, and then at least two other teams will be precluded from advancing in playoffs having to play this team and make it to the final.  And should there be a wildcard offered to Sectionals for this district, the runner-up would already be going, so who gets the offer to go when the winner can't field a team?  Will the semi-final losers have to play to decide that or will some tie-breaker be used?  It could become a bit of a mess.

But this also isn't really fair to the team that has the bump ups as they've formed their roster per the rules and may be precluded from advancing to Sectionals when players are bumped up.

Like I said before, early start ratings, while not perfect, served a purpose and that was to make it more likely players would be rostered on early start teams at their proper level and greatly reduce the chance of players being out of level and messing up rosters after year-end ratings come out.  Without them, players and teams, and not just the team with players being bumped up, will be significantly affected negatively.  I think we will be wishing we'd had early start ratings back when all is said and done.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

2016 USTA League Nationals Flights and Schedules Published

I wrote a few days ago about 2016 USTA League Nationals and where you can get more information.  Well, some of that more information is starting to be published and show up, specifically the make-up of the flights and the schedules for the matches.

While some Sectionals are yet to be played so the specific teams aren't known, as of today, which sections go in which flights and the match schedules have been published for the following divisions/levels:

I'll try to post updates as more of the schedules are published.  And I'll update my Nationals Schedule with these links as I have them.

So if your team won Sectionals and is headed to Nationals, you can now go see what sections you'll be playing and what your match schedule is.  If you are willing to do a little leg work though, you can go lookup who won each section and determine the teams you'll be playing too.

And if you want to scout your flight or opponents at Nationals with a flight report or team reports, I'll do the legwork and figure out who the teams are for you.  Contact me for more information.