Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Previewing a couple levels of the 2017 NorCal USTA League 40 & Over Districts

I wrote yesterday about the upcoming NorCal 40 & over Districts, and remarked that a few levels had a remarkable number of flights/teams.  Specifically, the 3.5 women has seven flights (28 teams!) and the 4.0 men has six flights (24 teams!).

With that many flights, it gets interesting on how to advance teams to Sectionals.  It appears the women will take the seven flight winners plus one wildcard, and the men will take the six flight winners and two wildcards.  Sectionals will then be two flights of four teams each, the flight winners playing a final.

In any case, with 28 and 24 teams respectively, you might expect to see teams of varying strength, so I thought I'd go about doing a preview using my top-8 averages for each roster using what is included in my flight preview reports.  To not give all the details away, I won't list team names, but will list the top-8 averages for each team and the flight the team is in.
Here are the 3.5 women.

1Flight 23.53
2Flight 33.50
3Flight 33.49
4Flight 43.48
4Flight 73.48
4Flight 53.48
7Flight 33.47
7Flight 13.47
9Flight 23.46
10Flight 73.45
11Flight 13.44
12Flight 43.43
13Flight 63.42
14Flight 53.41
15Flight 73.40
15Flight 63.40
15Flight 63.40
15Flight 43.40
19Flight 53.39
19Flight 43.39
21Flight 13.38
21Flight 23.38
23Flight 33.37
23Flight 13.37
25Flight 53.36
25Flight 63.36
27Flight 73.35
28Flight 23.33

We see what is quite honestly a huge range for teams at Districts, a full 0.2 is required to cover the top to bottom teams.  And these are averages of the top-8 mind you, so while the top-12 are covered by just 0.1, but it appears quite a few teams are there that, on paper at least, will be pretty severe underdogs.

And I have no idea how they distributed teams to flights, but there are a couple that stand out as stronger or weaker.  Flight 3's best three teams are all in the top-7, the best two are #2 and #3, all with top-8 averages higher than the best from flights 1 and 6.  A couple pretty good teams won't be making it to Sectionals, although there is a wildcard open, but if they beat up on each other, the second place team may not make it.

At the other end, flight 6 has no team rated higher than 13th.  Of course, now that I've pointed this out, watch the flight 6 winner go to Sectionals and win it all!

Moving on to the 4.0 men, here is what their top-8 averages look like.

1Flight 24.02
2Flight 34.00
2Flight 24.00
4Flight 53.99
5Flight 43.97
6Flight 23.96
6Flight 63.96
6Flight 43.96
9Flight 33.94
9Flight 53.94
11Flight 53.93
12Flight 43.91
12Flight 13.91
12Flight 63.91
15Flight 13.90
15Flight 33.90
17Flight 63.89
17Flight 53.89
17Flight 13.89
20Flight 63.87
20Flight 33.87
22Flight 43.86
23Flight 23.84
24Flight 13.78

The range here is a full 0.24, the lowest rated team has a top-8 average that is well, right about average, for 4.0s as a whole.  The top-8 are all within 0.06 of each other though, and two more just 0.02 back, so there are still a good group of good teams.

But like for the women, there is a very tough flight, that being flight 2 with the #1, #2, and #6 teams in the flight.  Flight 1 appears to be the easier flight here with no team higher than #12.

You might wonder how accurate these previews are at predicting who advances and that is an excellent question.  As we know, in sports, it isn't always the "better" or most accomplished team on paper that wins, and in tennis a lot depends on who shows up, what the match-ups are, and just how players play on a given day.

But last year, the 3.5 women had the #1 team from flight 1 move on, #1 from flight 2, #2 from flight 3, #1 from flight 4, #4 from flight 5, #2 from flight 6, and #2 from flight 7.  So five of the seven had the #1 or #2 team advance.

And the 4.0 men had flight 1 tightly bunched with the #3 team (just hundredths behind #1) moving on, flight 2 had the top team advance, flight 3 saw a close #3 advance, flight 4 had #2 move on, flight 5 had #1 advance, and flight 6 also had the top team move on.  So three of the six flights had the top-team, and one had a #2 team.

So these averages aren't perfect, but they are a pretty good predictor of who will advance.

What do you think?

If you are interested in knowing the actual teams in each spot above, or are on a team and want to get a flight report to scout your opponents and see where your team compares, or a team report to better plan your line-ups, contact me.