Monday, October 31, 2016

USTA League rule changes for 2017

Every year, the USTA publishes a new set of regulations and usually makes a few tweaks or changes to some of the rules.  Here is a summary of what is changing for 2017.

To start, and this is not new news, but to reiterate, Early Start Ratings are gone.  They were not published in 2016 for 2017 early start leagues and players simply played on early start teams based on their 2015 year-end NTRP level.  However, these players will not be eligible to play at Nationals at that level if they are bumped up at the end of 2016.  Each section gets to decide how long a bumped up player may continue at the lower level and some will let them play through Sectionals and others won't.

Something I've written about before are the rules regarding seniors for being (or not as the case may be) bumped up.  The prior rules said players 65 year of age or more simply wouldn't be bumped up.  This was a bit crazy, it was arguably discrimination to not allow a player to have their improvement be recognized and thankfully for 2017 this has changed.  Now players will be bumped up, but allowed to appeal down rather than simply not being bumped up.  Note if they do appeal, they will be subject to strikes and disqualification now.

Also regarding appeals, in the past, anyone that played in a championship (playoffs, i.e. Districts, States, Sectionals, Nationals) was not eligible to appeal their rating down.  The rule has now changed to say that only players that play at Nationals will be ineligible to appeal down.  Players that played in earlier stages of playoffs will be eligible to appeal down, but of course must meet the appeal criteria for it to be granted.

Note that I gleaned these changes from a draft of the 2017 regulations from earlier this year, so this is not the final regulations, but it is the currently linked document on TennisLink.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

What sections did the best at 2016 USTA League Adult Nationals?

With the completion of Adult Nationals, we can now look at how the sections did.  I've kept track of of who won by division, gender, and level and tallied up points based on the semi-finalists and how they finished.

Southern easily won the 18 & over division more than doubling up the second place Pacific Northwest section.  And they did it in both men and women with two titles each.  Caribbean, Texas, Intermountain, and NorCal also did well.

In 40 & over, Florida accumulated the most points with three titles, with Middle States and Pacific Northwest a few points back.  Southern, Southwest, and Texas also did well.

The 55 & over division found Southern Cal running away with the points title nearly tripling Florida and Southern due to their four titles.

Putting it all together, the three leaders in each division also had the highest totals, Southern well ahead of Southern Cal and Florida very close.  Pacific Northwest and Texas complete the top-5 just a bit back.

The USTA uses the results of Nationals to try to normalize ratings between levels, so it is often the case that players from sections that do well get bumped up more than those that didn't.  So this may be an early warning that Southern, Florida, and Southern Cal may see a lot of bumps up this year.

And this weekend's new National Champions are?

The last weekend of Adult Nationals is complete and here are the new champs.

The 18 & over 4.5 women's champ is Intermountain with a 3-2 win over Southern, Caribbean winning third with a 4-1 win over Northern.

The 18 & over 4.5 men was won by Eastern with a tight 3-2 win over Southern Cal, third was won by Southwest with a 4-1 win over Mid-Atlantic.

The 40 & over 4.0 women found the Pacific Northwest beating Mid-Atlantic 3-2 for the title, while Middle States beat Northern Cal 3-2 for third.

The 40 & over 4.0 men's title was won by Florida with a 3-2 win over Middle States, Eastern took third beating Hawaii 3-2.

The 55 & over 7.0 women's champ is Southern Cal with a 2-1 win over Eastern, Florida beating Missouri Valley 2-1 for third.

The 55 & over 7.0 men saw Northern beat Southern Cal for the title 2-1 while Texas beat New England for third 3-0.

The 55 & over 9.0 women found Southern beating Texas 2-1 for the title and Eastern beating Missouri Valley 3-0 for third.

The 55 & over 9.0 men's title was won by Southern Cal over Mid-Atlantic 3-0 and New England beat Northern Cal 3-0 for third.

Congrats to all!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

This is the last weekend for matches to count for 2016

A common question I get this time of year is to ask when the cut-off for matches to count for year-end ratings is.  Well, the clock is ticking down, as this weekend is it!

I mention this in questions 4 and 5 on my FAQ, but here is how it works.

The USTA year typically ends when the Adult Nationals are completed.  This is normally the last weekend of October or the first weekend of November.  They use the last weekend of Nationals as the year-end calculations and benchmarking, and any adjustments they elect to make are based off the results at Nationals.

Now, the actually year-end ratings are typically released the week after Thanksgiving, I would expect November 28th or 29th this year.  Why the gap between the cut-off date and the release?  The USTA does need to perform their year-end calculations and I'm sure there is review done and consideration of doing any regional or national adjustments to ratings, and this takes a little time.

What the USTA does to make things a little interesting, is to associate the year-end ratings with a date of 12/31/2016, i.e. if you look up someone's rating on TennisLink and it is a year-end rating, it always has a 12/31 date.  That makes sense in that the rating is for the end of the 2016 year, but the rating comes out a month or so before that and is for matches played through a month earlier than that!  And matches played in November and December of this year will count towards the 2017 year-end rating.

Note that I don't think the Mixed exclusive ratings follow quite the same schedule.  They are typically released at the same time, the week after Thanksgiving, but their cut-off date is likely the end of Mixed Nationals which would be November 13th.  This only makes sense since you'd want Nationals results to be included!

So if you have a match this weekend or are playing at Nationals, make the most of it!  And of course, if you don't want to wait for the USTA to release ratings, I can do a report for you giving you an accurate estimate of where your year-end rating will end up.  Contact me if interested.

Friday, October 28, 2016

A preview of the last weekend of 2016 USTA League Adult Nationals

This weekend finds the last Adult Nationals for the 2016 USTA League being contested, here is a preview of a few levels.

As usual, the seeding I mention is all done based on the top-8 averages from my flight reports.  And I can still generate these for any teams/individuals that are interested.

The 40 & over 4.0 women has a tough flight in flight 4 having the 1, 3, 5, and 14 seeds, flights 2 and 3 are similar having the 4, 6, 7, 12 and 2, 8, 10, 15 seeds respectively, and flight 1 is the weakest with the 9, 11, 13, 16, and 17 seeds.

The USTA actually ended up with pretty balanced flights for the 40 & over 4.0 men.  Flight 5 is probably the toughest having the 1, 2, 8, 11, and 14 seeds, but flight 7 isn't far behind with the 3, 5, 9, and 17 seeds, flight 6 just a tick back with the 4, 10, 13, and 15, and flight 8 the weakest but still pretty balanced with 6, 7, 12, and 16.

The 18 & over division is playing the 4.5 level and the women's flights are pretty balanced, flight 3 perhaps being the toughest overall with the 1, 6, 8, and 11 seeds, but flight 1 being top-heavy with the 2, 3, 12, 15, and 16 seeds.  But flight 2 has the 5, 7, 9, and 13 seeds while flight 4 has the 4, 10, 14, and 17 seeds.

The 4.5 men are also reasonably balanced, but flight 8 will be hard fought at the top with the 1, 3, 12, and 13 seeds, flights 6 and 7 are similar with the 2, 6, 15, 17 and 4, 5, 9, 14 seeds.  Flight 5 is perhaps the weakest but very competitive with the 7, 8, 10, 11, and 16 seeds.  Just 0.06 covers the top-8 averages of the flight 5 teams.

Good luck to all!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The last weekend of 2016 USTA League Adult Nationals is nearly here - 18 & over 4.5, 40 & over 4.0, 55 & over 7.0 and 9.0

As we get to the end of October, we also get to the last weekend of Adult Nationals.  The 18 & over 4.5 men and women are in Rancho Mirage while the 40 & over 4.0 men and women are in La Quinta.  Arizona is where the 55 & over 7.0 and 9.0 levels wrap up in Surprise.

While the matches commence in just another day, it isn't too late to get reports to help scout opponents or plan your line-ups.  Contact me if interested.

On a personal note, my 40+ 4.0 team was beaten 3-2 at Sectionals by the PNW team headed to Nationals.  I'll be following them to see how they do and think "what if we'd won that last tie-break" :)

Good luck to all playing this weekend!

Monday, October 24, 2016

2016 USTA League Nationals Champions Crowned in 40 & over and 55 & over

Another weekend of Nationals is complete, just one to go for the Adult divisions.

This weekend, the 40 & over 3.5 men and women played along with the 4.5+ level, plus the 55 & over started with the 6.0 and 8.0 levels.

The 3.5 women saw Florida take the title beating Southwest 4-1, Southern taking third over Midwest.

For the 3.5 men, Hawaii beat Pacific Northwest 3-2, both making the final with 3-2 wins, Intermountain taking third over Southern.

The 4.5+ women saw a chorus of 3-2 wins with Southern beating New England, and Florida beating Middle States for third.

The 4.5+ men's champion is Southwest who beat Texas 4-1, Southern Cal beating Northern for third.

The 55+ 6.0 women's champ is Southern who beat Pacific Northwest 2-1, New England beating Florida for third.

The 6.0 men had Southern Cal beat Missouri Valley for the title 3-0, and Northern beat Midwest 3-0 for third.

The 8.0 women saw Intermountain win over Florida 2-1, and Southern Cal take New England 2-1 for third.

The 8.0 men's result had Southern Cal beat Midwest 3-0 and Florida beat Middle States 3-0 for third.

Congrats to all!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

2016 USTA League 40 & over Nationals continue with 3.5 and 4.5+ levels in the California desert and 55+ in Arizona

There are just two more weekends of Adult Nationals for 2016 and this weekend has the 40+ 3.5 and 4.5+ levels playing in Rancho Mirage and La Quinta.  Meanwhile the 55+ 6.0 and 8.0 levels are playing in Surprize, AZ.

Here is a quick preview of the 3.5 level.

The 3.5 women has flight 3 being the toughest with the #1, #2, #5, and #11 seeded teams.  The other flights are more balanced with flight 4 having the #3, #8, #9, and #16, flight 2 the #6, #7, #12, and #17, and flight 1 the #4, #10, #13, #14, and #15 teams.  Will all the top seeds make it through?  With the weakness of flight 1, could a bottom third team make the semis?

For the 3.5 men, flight 5 is by far the toughest with the #1, #3, #4, #6, and #14 seeded teams.  Not only do these teams have to play four matches, they have to do so against the toughest opponents.  Flight 8 is the next toughest with the #2, #5, #7, and #13 teams, which leaves flights 6 and 7 the easiest with no team seeded higher than #8 and flight 7 having #16 and #17.

Good luck to all!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Details on USTA League 55 & over and Mixed Nationals now available

The USTA has updated their Nationals pages with the flights for 55+ and Mixed Nationals that are a few weeks away.  See my Nationals Schedule page with links to the PDFs.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

And this weekend's 2016 USTA League 40+ 3.0 National Champions are ... Florida for the women and Middle States for the men

Another weekend of USTA League Nationals is in the books and we have the first two 40 & over National Champions crowned.  The 3.0 men and women played this weekend in Tucson and there was some good competition.

For the women, the semis found two close matches with Pacific Northwest beating Missouri Valley 3-2 and Florida beating Texas 3-2.  Both were minor upsets, Florida being ever so slight underdogs on 2D and 3D and PNW pulling an upset on 1D.  The final found Florida winning 3-2 as well, this one having one upset each way, and Texas getting third.

The men's semis found Intermountain pulling two upsets to win 4-1 over Florida and Middle States getting walloped on both singles courts but winning the doubles to win 3-2 over Texas.  Middle States used the same tactic in the final winning 3-2 all on the doubles courts and Texas getting third.

I've updated the tally of 2016 National Champions if you want to follow along.

2016 USTA League 40 & over 3.0 Nationals semi-finalists are set

The 2016 USTA League 40 & over 3.0 Nationals are taking place this weekend, and the semi-finalists are set.

For the women, Missouri Valley pulled a minor upset winning flight 1, and will play a Pacific Northwest team that also pulled a minor upset to make the semis.  Flight 2 winner was also an upset in Florida, and the pre-Nationals favorite Texas will face them in their semi being the only favorite to make it through.

The current ratings say the finalists should be Missouri Valley and Texas with Texas taking the title.

For the men, Florida won flight 5 in an upset and they will face Intermountain who won flight 7 as the favorite.  The other semi will see Texas play Middle States both favorites in their flights.

Texas remains the overall top seed in the current ratings and is expected to be in the final against Intermountain, but both matches are expected to be close so it could come down to who plays and match-ups.

Will Texas bring in two 40 & over titles to give the state the early lead in the 40+ standings?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Checking USTA League self-rated men by section - Who sandbags or overrates?

I wrote a few days ago about trends with self-rated players being bumped up or down at a national level and also took a look at the trends for each section for the women.  Now it is time to look at the men in each section.

As a reminder, these charts are showing the number of players by level that self-rated in 2015 and stayed the same at year-end as well as are bumped up and down.  On each bar the number shows the percentage for each category by level.

As a refresher to start, here is the national chart for the men:

We see the trend of a lot more bumps up than down at the 2.5 thru 3.5 levels, and then it becomes balanced at 4.0 and a slight bias towards bump downs above that.  Based on this, one could observe that perhaps at lower levels, the men tend to underrate or sandbag a bit.

But do these same trends hold true at the section level?  Here are the same stats for each section in reverse alphabetical order.


Texas looks a lot like the National chart, except they have a few more bump ups at 2.5, 3.0, and 3.5.


At the 2.5 and 3.0 levels, Southwest pushing things a bit more with over 90% and 40% respectively being bumped up.


Southern actually has more balance at 3.5 than National averages or the two other sections above.

Southern Cal:

SoCal doesn't have a lot of players self-rate at 2.5 or 3.0, but a huge percentage of them get bumped up.  Do they just improve a lot playing in the California sun or is there some sandbagging going on?

Pacific Northwest:

PNW has looks like others and National at 2.5 and 3.0, but actually has more 3.5s bumped down than up!


This looks similar to National and others, except that there are more self-rated 4.0 men than any other level and more than twice as many were bumped up than down.


This looks a lot like the National chart, nothing really stands out.

New England:

Hardly any 2.5s aren't bumped up, but otherwise quite similar.

Missouri Valley:

Very similar to the National chart.


Again, very similar to the National chart.  Are men this consistent across sections unlike the women?

Middle States:

For the first time, more 2.5s stay 2.5 than are bumped up.  Otherwise, similar to National.


The 3.5 men are more balanced than more others, and a few more 4.0s are bumped down.


Intermountain men are balanced at 3.5 and quite a few more 4.0s are bumped down than up.


We finally have one that is significantly different.  All 2.5s are bumped up and nearly 2/3 of 3.0s and nearly a third of 3.5s and virtual no-one is bumped down!


Sort of back to normal, but there are a lot of 2.5s and 3.0s bumped up.


Eastern is also fairly normal although nearly all 2.5s are bumped up.


Similar to the Caribbean women, a lot of players self-rate at 2.5, and a ton of 2.5 and 3.0 self-rated men do get bumped up.  It is no surprise they do so well at Nationals at these levels.

Remarkably, the men do not show as much variation by section as the women do.  Apart from Hawaii and Caribbean, most look similar to the National averages.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Checking USTA League self-rated women by section - Who sandbags or overrates?

I wrote a few days ago about trends with self-rated players being bumped up or down at a national level.  That revealed some interesting observations, notably that men seem to underrate a bit at 3.0 and 3.5 levels while women tend to overrate at the same levels.

But that is Nationally.  Do the same trends hold at the section level?

You knew I couldn't leave that one alone, so we will start with the women and look at the breakdown by section.  As a reminder, these charts are showing the number of players by level that self-rated in 2015 and stayed the same at year-end as well as are bumped up and down.  On each bar the number shows the percentage for each category by level.

As a refresher to start, here is the national chart for the women:

Now, we'll just go through the sections alphabetically.


A vast majority of players in the Caribbean self-rate at 2.5!  And nearly 2/3 of these players arguably underrate as they get bumped up at year-end.  Now, it is easy to improve significantly at 2.5 and it may be natural for beginners to self-rate at 2.5, but this is still a remarkable statistic.  Interestingly, it appears more women self-rate at 3.5 than 3.0, and unlike the national trend more women get bumped up than down.

This whole chart in fact looks more like the men's chart where one could conclude there is sandbagging going on.  Is there sandbagging amongst the women in the Caribbean?  Is this in part why they won 18+ 3.0 Nationals last weekend?


This chart looks a lot more similar to the national chart, although at 3.0 a few more self-rated women are bumped up than down, but at the 3.5 level, hardly any get bumped up.


Florida looks even more like then national chart, a trend of a few more self-rated women being bumped down than up.


Another ratings "island" so to speak like Caribbean, there is again more of a trend towards bump ups, even into the 4.0 level.  But a lot more players self-rate at 3.5.  Perhaps Hawaiian women also underrate slightly?


This section also has a lot of players self-rate at 2.5, but doesn't have a huge number of them get bumped up.  And at 3.0, 3.5, and 4.0 levels, a far larger number of self-rated women get bumped down than up.  So far, this is the most extreme case of potential overrating.


Mid-Atlantic has a slight bias towards underrating, particularly at 3.0, which also could have contributed to making the final at 18+ 3.0 this past weekend.

Middle States:

This section is pretty balanced, just a modest number more self-rated women being bumped down at 3.5 and a larger number at 4.0.


Midwest has a slightly larger number of 2.5s bumped up, and at 3.0 does have a few more bumped up, but goes back to the national trend of more bump downs at 3.5 and 4.0.

Missouri Valley:

This section is similar to Midwest with more 3.0s being bumped up, but more 3.5s and 4.0s being bumped down.

New England:

New England has a lot of women self-rate at 3.0 and they do it quite accurately it appears.  The general trend at other levels applies.  With so many players joining at 3.0, it is perhaps not a surprise they made the semis at 18+ Nationals this year.

Northern California:

In NorCal we see some underrating at 3.0 like a few other sections and a lot of 2.5s bumped up, but otherwise like the national averages.


Northern is interesting as the vast majority of women self-rate at 3.5 unlike most others.  More of those self-rated 3.0s get bumped down that up though.

Pacific Northwest:

In the PNW, we see a few more 3.0s bumped up, but a lot more self-rated women 3.5s bumped down.  They also made the semis at 3.0 with the slight bias of more bump ups.  But PNW won the 3.5 level this year where a lot of players got bumped down last year.

Southern California:

SoCal also has more 3.5s, but not like Northern, and at 3.0 a lot of players, nearly a 1/3, get bumped up.  Perhaps more should be self-rating at 3.5!


Southern looks pretty normal, just a few more 3.0s bumped up, but the section is so large you'd expect it to look a lot like the national averages.


Southwest has a lot of 2.5s bumped up and interestingly goes against the national averages at both 3.0 and 3.5 with a few more self-rated women bumped up than down.


Texas look fairly normal and close to the national averages, just a few more bumped up at 2.5 and 3.0.

So we see a few surprises, and some of the sections that seem to underrate at 3.0 and 3.5 did do well at Nationals this year.

What do you think?