Sunday, December 17, 2017

Conversations About Tennis with Carl Bialik - Podcast with me on USTA Ratings!

If you've followed sports/political statistics, you've probably come across Carl Bialik, a journalist who has written for the Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, and FiveThirtyEight among others.  He has a passion for tennis though and has a regular podcast, Thirty Love: Conversations About Tennis, where he talks with guests on a variety of tennis related topics.

He contacted me recently about recording a podcast with him to discuss USTA League and NTRP ratings and I agreed, and you can now listen to it on his site or on iTunes.

Thanks Carl!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

New Report! - Team Recruiting Report

It is December, 2017 year-end ratings have come out and now captains are working on rosters, deciding who to keep from last year, and what holes to fill and who to recruit to fill the gaps.

To aid in doing this research and recruiting, I've created a new report, a Team Recruiting Report.  It is similar to a team report, but breaks out a number of details a captain will find useful when forming a team, such as records and match ratings in singles vs doubles, and how those same two stats varied by league played in.

Here is an example:

P14.5C/4.0C9104.053.651D-8 2D-3 3D-39-10 / 3.822-3 / 3.627-4 / 3.86
P24.5C/4.0C1224.023.81D-5 1S-2 2D-1 2S-57-1 / 3.975-1 / 4.096-2 / 4.056-0 / 3.98
P34.0C/4.0C983.913.91D-2 1S-7 2D-2 3D-12-5 / 3.937-3 / 3.950-1 /9-7 / 3.94
P44.0C/4.0C1133.853.841S-8 2S-311-3 / 3.984-2 / 3.987-1 / 3.98
P54.0C/4.0C313.83.81D-3 2D-13-1 / 3.83-1 / 3.8
P64.0C/4.0C643.793.831D-1 2D-1 3D-46-4 / 3.742-0 / 3.821-1 / 3.63
P74.0C/4.0C993.753.921D-2 1S-3 2D-5 2S-5 3D-13-6 / 3.896-3 / 3.922-4 / 3.787-5 / 3.95
P84.0C/4.0C563.753.731D-3 2D-1 3D-65-6 / 3.693-4 / 3.732-2 / 3.61
P94.0C/4.0C573.743.751D-5 2D-2 3D-25-7 / 3.712-4 / 3.823-3 / 3.63
P104.0C/4.0C983.733.71D-3 1S-1 2D-4 3D-31-1 / 3.598-7 / 3.795-4 / 3.874-4 / 3.7
P114.0C/4.0C793.723.631D-7 2D-1 3D-57-9 / 3.712-2 / 3.791-5 / 3.634-2 / 3.78
P124.0C/4.0C323.693.71D-2 2D-13-2 / 3.693-2 / 3.69
P134.0C/4.0C113.673.672D-21-1 / 3.771-1 / 3.77
P144.0C/4.0C993.633.671D-9 2D-3 3D-10-1 /9-8 / 3.712-5 / 3.764-3 / 3.673-1 / 3.7
P154.0C/4.0C743.63.711S-2 2D-1 2S-4 3D-44-2 / 3.773-2 / 3.643-2 / 3.674-2 / 3.75

This gives a nice summary of an entire team or list of players so you can see who your singles players are, and if someone's rating is being buoyed or hurt by doing well or poorly in a particular league.

This report also includes the partner report showing how many times each player played with another candidate/rostered player and how they did together.

If you are interested in a recruiting report, contact me at  Since this is a new report, I'd love to get feedback and will be discounting the price for a few weeks while I iron out any issues and tailor it to what folks are looking for.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Breaking News - USTA League 2018 Nationals Schedule Released - Texas and Las Vegas added to the mix!

It was just brought to my attention that the schedule and locations for 2018 USTA League Nationals has shown up in places.  The link on TennisLink to the Nationals schedule still goes to the 2017 schedule, but the site I was pointed to is a USTA site so I have no reason to believe it isn't accurate.  And last year the schedule showed up in early January so the timing is similar.

So yes, we are talking about 2018 Nationals already!

After the weather related fiascos of this year including many delays, shortening of matches to pro-sets, short sets, and no-ad scoring, and even declaring co-champs when semis and finals couldn't be played, and yes, no semis meant as many as four co-champs, I'm sure many are wanting to see if there are any changes, and there are!

First, here is the schedule:

Oct. 5-7Orlando, FLHard18 & over 5.0+
Oct. 5-7Arlington, TXHard18 & over 4.0
Oct. 12-14Orlando, FLHard18 & over 3.5 and 2.5W
Oct. 12-14Las Vegas, NVHard18 & over 3.0
Oct. 12-14Arlington, TXHard18 & over 4.5
Oct. 19-21Las Vegas, NVHard40 & over 4.5+
Oct. 19-21Arlington, TXHard40 & over 3.5
Oct. 19-21Orlando, FLClay55 & over 6.0 and 8.0
Oct. 26-28Las Vegas, NVHard40 & over 4.0
Oct. 26-28Mobile, ALHard40 & over 3.0
Oct. 26-28Orlando, FLClay55 & over 7.0 and 9.0
Nov. 9-11Mobile, ALHardMixed 18 & over 6.0 thru 10.0
Nov. 16-18Orlando, FLHardMixed 40 & over 6.0 thru 9.0

As far as the age groups go, this is a similar schedule to 2017 and past years with 18+ going first, then 40+, and then 55+ and Mixed.

Regarding locations, Mobile is unfortunately still a host site but will be used just twice, 40+ 3.0 and 18+ Mixed, although it is all of 18+ Mixed so should there be any bad weather that weekend, a lot of tennis could be impacted.

But the big news is two new sites that haven't been used recently, or perhaps ever, in Arlington and Las Vegas.  But Arizona is now completely missing, California is still missing, and Ft. Lauderdale is gone after one year and significant delays due to weather.

In adding Vegas and Arlington, the USTA was perhaps reading my blog and saw the poll I did earlier this year where response was that Las Vegas and Texas should be added in the future!

Note that as you might expect, Orlando means the USTA National Campus.  Las Vegas will be at the Darling Tennis Center, Arlington will be at the Arlington Tennis Center, and Mobile is where it has always been.

I think this is an improvement over last year, while Mobile still shows up it is limited to two weekends and Ft. Lauderdale is gone.  I think Vegas makes sense and Arlington does too.  It is still a little disappointing to not have Arizona or California in the rotation, but this does have some events in the West or Central regions making the travel requirements for folks a little more balanced.

There you have it, what do you think?

Friday, December 8, 2017

2017 USTA League Year-End Rating Analysis - 5.0 Bump Up/Down Percentages - Interesting Tennis League Stats

I already wrote about the 2017 year-end bump up/down percentages and also by gender, and started looking at levels with the 4.0 men and women3.5 men and women, 4.5 men and women, 3.0 men and women, and now the 5.0 men and women.

First, the 5.0 women by section.

As you might imagine, at the 5.0 level very few players are bumped up, and indeed just a few sections had a noticeable number bumped up and even those were in the los single digit percentages.  There were a lot of bump downs though, over 15% in most sections and well over 50% in Hawaii.

And then the 5.0 men by section.

The stats for the men are similar to the women, but not as extreme.  As many as 4% were bumped up and more sections had noticeable bump ups, and Hawaiian men only had about 33% bumped down and some other sections below 15%.

What do you think?  What does this mean for 5.0 play in your section in 2018?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

USTA NTRP National Championships - Another opportunity for recreational tennis Nationals!

Anyone who reads my blog or follows USTA League tennis is aware of the National Championships that the USTA holds each Fall where players who played USTA League locally are able to advance through local playoffs, Districts/States, Sectionals, and make it to Nationals where they can compete against teams from 16 other sections to win a championship.  Championships are held at NTRP levels for both Adult (men's teams and women's teams) and Mixed teams.

But the USTA doesn't run just USTA League.  There are tournaments held throughout the year that are sanctioned by the USTA and these include both NTRP tournaments and as well as Open/Senior tournaments that are open to all of any age (Open) or of a minimum age (35+, 40+, 45+, etc.).

For the Open/Senior tournaments, there are select tournaments identified as championships that draw the very best in pursuit of winning the title.

What has been missing, until now, is the identification of a "champion" for NTRP tournament play.  Recently, the USTA has introduced the NTRP National Championships which is a "new national adult tournament that leverages the NTRP rating system as a way to create level-based competition at the 18 & over and 50 & over age groups".

The tournaments will be held for 18+ in Surprise, AZ April 6-8 and for 50+ in Naples, FL April 20-22 and include play at the 3.5, 4.0, and 4.5 levels in both singles and doubles.  The page says they there will be four-player round robins feeding into compass draws so each player/pair should get a number of matches in.

Interestingly, the scoring format is listed as Fast Four.  This has been experimented with in some events including the ATP NextGen tournament a month or so ago, and entails best-of-three set matches to four games with a tie-break at 3-3 in a set and tie-breaks the first to 5 win by one.  I like the idea of not having match tie-breaks for a third set, but am not sure about first to four sets.  But I guess if you are going to play upwards of 6 matches in three days, some sort of short format is needed.

To advance a player will need to play NTRP tournaments in their section and using criteria set by each section, quality to be a section's representative to the event.

Some sections will hold a Sectional tournament where players qualify for it based on tournament play during the year, say the top 8 or top 16 at a level advancing to Sectionals.  Others will just use the tournament rankings to determine the representatives directly.  See the link above with links to rules for various sections or contact info for each section's coordinator.

It is interesting to note that a couple sections have explicitly stated that self-rated players are not eligible to advance to Nationals.  I think this makes sense, you don't want to encourage players to self-rate too low to unfairly dominate at too low a level, especially since there are no 3-strike DQ's from NTRP tournament play.  There are some that feel that self-rated players shouldn't be eligible to go the USTA League playoffs or Nationals!

As there is often confusion about rankings vs ratings, particularly as it relates to NTRP play, a little clarification is probably a good idea.  See what I wrote several years ago for more details, but the summary is that a player generates an NTRP rating and associated year-end NTRP level from play in USTA League play (and sometimes NTRP tournament matches are included too), while a player separately accumulates points from NTRP tournament play based on how far they advance in a draw, and their ranking is just based on where the show up (rank) in the list of players with points.  So these are separate and distinct things.

In any case, this is a new opportunity for recreational players who have an NTRP rating/level to advance to a Nationals and get to play against peers from other sections.

What do you think?  Will you set new goals to play more tournaments because of the NTRP National Championship?

2017 USTA League Year-End Rating Analysis - 3.0 Bump Up/Down Percentages - Interesting Tennis League Stats

I already wrote about the 2017 year-end bump up/down percentages and also by gender, and started looking at levels with the 4.0 men and women,  and 3.5 men and women, 4.5 men and women, and now the 3.0 men and women.

First, the 3.0 women by section.

At the higher levels we looked at so far, the bumps up were far smaller, even many more bumps down at the 4.5 level.  At 3.0 it is the other way with some sections seeing nearly 20% of their 3.0s bumped up, Southern California, Southwest, and Caribbean leading the way.  And no section had even 5% bumped down.

And then the 3.0 men by section.

The ratio is huge for the men, Southern California having over 40% of 3.0s bumped up!  But Hawaii, Texas, and Southwest all had over 25% as well.

It is natural for there to be more improvement at lower levels, but some of the numbers above would seem to clearly show some players are under rated.  I'll have to look at how many of these are self-rated.

What do you think?  What does this mean for 3.0 play in your section in 2018?

Monday, December 4, 2017

2017 USTA League Year-End Rating Analysis - 4.5 Bump Up/Down Percentages - Interesting Tennis League Stats

I already wrote about the 2017 year-end bump up/down percentages and also by gender, and started looking at levels with the 4.0 men and women,  and 3.5 men and women, now the 4.5 men and women.

First, the 4.5 women by section.

We see that every section, other than Caribbean, had more players bumped down than up, and by a wide margin.  Southwest had over 15% bumped down and less than 4% bumped up.  A few sections like Missouri Valley, Pacific Northwest, Florida, and Eastern were pretty stagnant with under 7% bumped up or down.

And then the 4.5 men by section.

Here, Eastern is the one section with more bumps up than down, but just barely.  Every other section had more bumps down, many by a significant margin.  Hawaii stands out with over 17% of their 4.5s bumped down!  Look out for Hawaii at 4.0 Nationals next year!

What do you think?  What does this mean for 4.5 play in your section in 2018?

Sunday, December 3, 2017

2017 USTA League Year-End Rating Analysis - 3.5 Bump Up/Down Percentages - Interesting Tennis League Stats

I already wrote about the 2017 year-end bump up/down percentages and also by gender, and started looking at levels with the 4.0 men and women, now onto the 3.5 men and women.

First, the 3.5 women by section.

Unlike the 4.0 women, every section had more players bumped up than down in this category.  Southern California had the most bumps up at nearly 10% while Northern had the most bumps down at about 5.5%.  But no section had less than 2.5% bumped down so there was movement both ways.

And then the 3.5 men by section.

Every section had more bumps up than down by a pretty wide margin.  Southern Cal and Texas both had over 12% of 3.5 men bumped up but no section had less than 7% bumped up.  And bump downs were rare, no section even having 4% bumped down.

What do you think?  What does this mean for 3.5 play in your section in 2018?

Saturday, December 2, 2017

2017 USTA League Year-End Rating Analysis - 4.0 Bump Up/Down Percentages - Interesting Tennis League Stats

I already wrote about the 2017 year-end bump up/down percentages and also by gender, now it is time start looking at individual levels.

The first I'll take a look at is the 4.0 level.

First, the 4.0 women by section.

There is quite a bit of variation here with more sections having more bumps down than up.  Midwest had the highest percentage of bumps down followed by Southern, Missouri Valley, and Northern California.

And while most sections had more bumps down, a few went the other way and had more bumps up.  Eastern had over 6% bumped up vs less than 5% bumped down.  Northern, Pacific Northwest, and Southern California also had more bumps up than down.

And then the 4.0 men by section.

While the Southern California women were bumped down more than up, the men led the way with over 9% bumped up.  Caribbean, Florida, and Middle States were also all right around 8%.

A few sections had more bumps down than up for the men led by Hawaii but including Pacific Northwest, Southern, and Southwest.

What do you think?  What does this mean for 4.0 play in your section in 2018?

12/4 Note: Corrected discussion under the women's chart, the chart stayed the same

2017 USTA League Year-End Rating Analysis - Gender and Section Bump Up/Down Percentages - Interesting Tennis League Stats

In the second of my posts on 2017 USTA League year-end rating analysis, I'll split out the bump up/down percentages by gender and section.

As a reminder, I wrote yesterday that the overall percentages were 8.6% up and 4.6% down.

By gender, for the women, 9.1% were bumped up and 4.7% down.  The men found 7.6% up and 4.5% down.

Here then is how each of those breaks out by section.

First, the women.

The sections with the most bumps up were Caribbean and Pacific Northwest with Texas, Southern California, Southwest, and Southern also all over 9%.

And then the men.

Here, Southern California, Caribbean, and Texas were the only sections with more than 9% being bumped up.

More to come!

Friday, December 1, 2017

2017 USTA League Year-End Rating Analysis - Bump Up/Down Percentages - Interesting Tennis League Stats

With the 2017 USTA League year-end ratings having been published about 24 hours ago, I'll be doing a sequence of blog entries analyzing what happened this time around.

To start, lets look at the high level bump up/down percentages.

Across all players that had a C rating at the end of 2016 and 2017, 8.6% were bumped up and 4.6% were bumped down.  This means that 86.8% stayed the same.

That isn't a whole lot of bumps either way, and is pretty close to last year and 2015 as well.  So it doesn't appear, nationally at least, that there was much of a shake-up.

Breaking it out by section, we see the following.

There aren't a lot of sections wildly out of whack with the national average.  Caribbean had the highest percentage bumped up, just under 11%, and Hawaii had the fewest right around 7%.  Northern California had a perhaps surprisingly high number of bump downs at around 5% and New England had the fewest under 4%.

Stay tuned, I'll be breaking things out by gender and level soon.

What? No way? How? Curious why your 2017 year-end NTRP level is what it is?

The 2017 USTA League year-end NTRP ratings are out, and many players received the year-end rating they were expecting.  But some individuals may still be surprised with where they ended up.

There are always some surprises for players.  Some may have been expecting to stay where they were but got bumped up or down, while others may have won a lot and were expected a bump up, or lost a lot and thought they'd be bumped down, and neither happened.

I will be doing some analysis to look at what happened and if there were any surprises or adjustments made by the USTA and reporting a variety of stats, but for those that want to understand why they were/weren't bumped up/down, they can always get an Estimated Dynamic NTRP Rating Report that will help explain how it all works.  While my ratings aren't perfect, they usually can explain odd bumps or lack thereof.  Contact me for more information.