Sunday, January 15, 2017

Poll results on what people think about the location/surface changes for 2017 USTA League Nationals

I wrote a blog with some poll questions asking for feedback on what people think about the location and surface changes for 2017 USTA League Nationals.  It has been a week, so let's take a look at the results.

Here is how the votes came in on the change of location.

We see that nearly half the respondents say they like it as it makes good use of the USTA National Campus.  But right around a quarter think it is a mistake and Arizona/California offer better weather, and a few others don't like it as they thought it it was good as is.  Just over 12% think it is good as it reduces the travel for some that have had to make a long trip in the past and 10% don't care, perhaps Nationals isn't a goal or priority for them.

Here is how the changes impact folks desire to go.

Nearly two thirds of folks that voted have not had their desire to go affected, but of those that have been affected, a few more are less likely to want to go than those that are more likely.

Clay is going to be used as a surface at some events, here is what people thought of that.

The response with the most votes was that this makes players less likely to go, likely a result of nearly all USTA League play outside of Florida not using clay.  But nearly as many think it is about time!  Then nearly a quarter don't care, and 15% take the positive approach of enjoying the opportunity.

Last, here is where people would like to see Nationals played in the future.

This is interesting as nearly half said using the National Campus in Florida is good, but over 36% think California should still be a site that is used.  Florida is #2 ahead of Arizona, and Other beats out Alabama which is at just over 5%.  But of the existing sites, the West coast pulls in over 58% while the East coast pulls in just over 36%.

Some of the Others were interesting, they included:

  • Las Vegas
  • Texas
  • Georgia
  • Bigger cities with more to do
  • Rotating between all sections

It is worth noting when taking these results in that the majority of respondents were from East of the Mississippi.  Given this, there was still strong support for the West coast sites.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The USTA publishes a nice summary of 2016

Those of you that get e-mails from the USTA probably got one yesterday with a link to a 2016 year in review.  It includes some boilerplate statistics on participation (not as many stats as I give you though 😀) plus a mention of plans for 2017 Nationals to include the new USTA National Campus.

There are several "up close and personal" stories on several of the teams/individuals that went to Nationals.  It then includes a short blurb on each Nationals event/level, some sounded eerily like the recaps I did after many of the events.

They also include the Nationals schedule for 2017 which matches what I wrote about recently.  So you can begin to plan your own road to Nationals for this year!

All in all, a nice summary of the year.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Poll: What do you think of the location/surface changes for 2017 USTA League Nationals?

I wrote last week about some changes for 2017 USTA League Nationals.  Specifically, California will no longer have any host sites, Florida picking them all up, many at the new USTA National Campus, and some divisions/events will play on clay.

I'm interested in what everyone thinks, so here are some poll questions.

What do you think of the majority of the 2017 USTA League Nationals being in Florida/Alabama?

Don't like it, why change a good thing?
It is a mistake, the weather is better in Arizona/California
Don't really care where Nationals are
It is about time, was a long trip for many in the East/South
I like it, good to use the new USTA National Campus

Does the location change cause you to want to go to Nationals more or less?

No change

What do think of the possibility of playing Nationals on clay?

Makes me less likely to go
Don't care
Never played on it, would be fun!
About time, should use it more

Where would you prefer Nationals to be in the future?

Please Specify:

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

It is 2017, ready for USTA League Nationals yet? Draft schedule has Florida as the new destination and clay is in play!

It is the third day of 2017, but it is never too early to start thinking about Nationals.

I came across what appears to be a draft schedule for Nationals this year, and there are some things that will be familiar, but some that are perhaps surprises too.

First, what is familiar.

All Nationals will be played in October and November as has been traditionally done.  Additionally, 18 & over generally is first, early in October, 40 & over is later in October and early November, and 55 and over and Mixed are predominantly in November.

Now, the surprise.

Last year, Nationals were predominantly in the desert Southwest with eight of the events held in Arizona, five in Palm Springs, and three at a new for 2016 Mobile, AL.  But in 2014 and 2015 they were entirely held in Arizona or California.

The shift should have been a sign though, as for 2017, California has been completely replaced by Florida!  Of the 14 events scheduled (18+ and 40+ Mixed are all single events rather than two of each) a full eight are being held in Florida and there are none in California.  Mobile still pulls in three and Arizona gets the other three.  See the table below for the schedule.

But the surprises aren't limited to the locations.  Some Nationals will now be played on clay!  According to the draft schedule, 40+ 3.0 and 3.5 as well as all of 55+ will be played on clay while the rest will remain on hard courts.

Now, perhaps this shouldn't be a surprise and we should have seen it coming.  In fact, some of you probably had as there were rumors that the new USTA National Campus in Orlando with its 100 courts would be a natural host for some Nationals events.  And indeed it is, hosting six of the 14 events in 2017.  And since it has both Har-Tru and Europen red clay courts, having the seniors use it probably makes sense.

But the clay courts will likely be a big advantage for players from Florida who are able to play and practice on clay the whole year.  Not many other areas have clay courts in any significant amount let alone play league matches on them.

Here is the schedule, or you can see the draft schedule for Nationals PDF the USTA has.

Note: The schedule has changed slightly, see this blog post for the update.

Adult 18 & over

Oct. 6-83.5Surprise, AZHard
Oct. 6-85.0+Orlando, FLHard
Oct. 13-152.5WOrlando, FLHard
Oct. 13-154.0Surprise, AZHard
Oct. 20-223.0Surprise, AZHard
Oct. 20-224.5Mobile, ALHard

Adult 40 & over

Oct. 13-153.0Ft. Lauderdale, FLClay
Oct. 20-224.0Orlando, FLHard
Oct. 27-293.5Ft. Lauderdale, FLClay
Nov. 10-124.5Orlando, FLHard

Adult 55 & over

Oct. 27-296.0 & 8.0Orlando, FLClay
Nov. 17-197.0 & 9.0Orlando, FLClay


Nov. 3-518 & over 6.0-10.0Mobile, ALHard
Nov. 10-1240 & over 6.0-9.0Mobile, ALHard

What do you think?  Are you glad to see the majority of Nationals in Florida?  Or did you like having them in Arizona and California?  And will playing on clay be a nice addition or is it an unfair advantage for some and will take away from the competitiveness of Nationals?

Monday, January 2, 2017

USTA League participation by year, is tennis shrinking? - More interesting tennis league stats

In my post from Monday on USTA League player distribution by level, I mentioned an overall drop in how many players had computer ratings for the end of 2016.  To expand on that, here are some participation numbers from 2016 to shed some more light on the subject.

All the charts in this analysis are looking at the number of players to played in Adult leagues (18+, 40+, 55+, 65+) during the 2016 rating year (roughly November 2015 thru October 2016).  For comparison, I'm including the same data from the past three years so we can see trends.

First, here are the national stats, overall and by men and women.

We can see that there are not any radical changes from year to year, but across the board, overall and for each gender, the numbers have been shrinking the past few years.  The women have dropped over 6K since 2013 while the men have just less than 6K fewer players participating in the analyzed leagues.  This represents a 4.4% drop over the three years.

As I mentioned last year when I looked at similar stats, one must understand the data they are looking at.  This analysis looks at just the main Adult leagues, and while they are shrinking, it is possible some of the secondary leagues like Tri-Level or Combo or other singles/doubles leagues run within the sections are not.  And there is a lot of tennis played outside of USTA League so this doesn't not necessarily mean tennis as a whole is shrinking.

As I did before, we can look at the trends by division.  Looking at just 18 & over, we see the downward trend more clearly.

There is the same roughly 12K drop here, but being based off a total over 200K, the percentage is larger, 5.7%.

If we look at the 40 & over league though, there is growth, particularly for the women.

And similar growth is shown in 55 & over too.

So as noted last year, it appears there are fewer players playing in the 18-39 age range, but more playing that are 40+.

But the overall decline is not occurring in every section.  Here for example is the overall chart for the Pacific Northwest section.

We see there has been small growth, about 500 or 4.2% over the three years.

The Southern section has had significant shrinkage though.

That is a drop of about 5K over the three years, or about 6.6%.

Texas had shown a drop but recovered some this year.

The drop was about 800 or 4% but went back up 200 in 2016.

Southern Cal is another section that is growing.

Their count has gone up about 700 or 6.8%.

I can do more sections if there is interest.  Let me know.

When does your 2017 league start? Get a flight preview report to prepare!

It is only January 2, but it is already time to get ready to start the 2017 40+ USTA League where I play (Seattle) as our first matches are this coming weekend.  And other districts in the Pacific Northwest section have leagues starting right away too, with Northern Oregon starting 18+ and Southwest Washington starting 40+ this coming weekend, and Southern Oregon starting 40+ the following weekend.

Now, there are 2017 leagues that already started, several sections have some leagues start as Early Start Leagues that began play as early as last summer, but the bulk of the country will be playing their 2017 leagues this Winter and Spring.

The start of a league season is always exciting as new teams have formed as players are bumped up or down or new players are available, and every team has high hopes of doing well and at least making local playoffs.  Captains are faced with the challenge of figuring out line-ups and determining when they need to play their best players to get a win, and when the opponent is weaker and they can afford to play others on the roster.

A great tool to help determine who the stronger/weaker teams are in a flight/sub-flight is a flight preview report.  Using my Estimated Dynamic NTRP Ratings, it shows the average rating for each team's roster including the average by level.  This lets you gauge the overall strength and depth of each team.  It also shows the top-8 average for each team which tells you which team is the strongest at the top.  With this report in hand, a captain can know how the competition stacks up and how to plan line-ups.

Here is an example of the top-8 average from last year, a Portland 40+ 4.0 sub-flight where the top team did win the flight and go on to win the section and go to Nationals:


Flight preview reports are very affordable at just $20 per sub-flight and a great value given how much information is provided.

If you'd like to get a flight preview report, or any other report for that matter, contact me at or on Facebook and I'll get you what you need.

Regardless, have a great 2017 season!

Happy New Year! USTA League player distribution by level - More interesting tennis league stats

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone rang in the new year safely, and at least in my area, we are starting our 2017 40+ league right away, my team's first match is this coming weekend.  But before we look forward to 2017, here is another post looking back at 2016.

Specifically, this is taking a look at how many computer rated players ended 2016 at each level and comparing it with the same numbers from 2015.

Note, in doing the comparisons, I show there were about 2,000 fewer players that were computer rated at the end of 2016 than 2015, so that is partly the reason why some levels may have fewer players this year.  This decline continues what we've seen the past few years interestingly enough.

First the women:

First, we can see that the more women are 3.5s than 3.0s or 4.0s by a pretty wide margin.  But looking at trends from 2015 to 2016, we can see that the 2.5s and 3.0s went up a bit, but the number of players that ended 2016 as 3.5s, 4.0s, and 4.5s all dropped slightly.

Next the men:

For the men, the 3.5s and 4.0s are neck and neck with the 4.0s staying just ahead of the 3.5s last year.  We also see more 2.5s and 3.0s, but fewer players at 3.5, 4.0, and 4.5 like we did for the women.

Given that there were more players bumped up than down in ever section, it is a bit surprising to see the decline at higher levels and would seem to indicate that some players at higher levels did not play enough matches to get a year-end rating.  It would also support the notion that most new players join at the 2.5 and 3.0 levels as that is where the growth was despite the overall loss of players.

What do you think?  In your area, are there fewer players playing and is the loss at the higher levels?

I'll probably look at the same data by section or state and will do the most requested first, so let me know where you are from!