Sunday, October 21, 2018

2018 National Champions: 40 & Over 4.5+ men Southern California

The National Champion was decided for the 40 & Over 4.5+ men today in Las Vegas, and when all was said and done, Southern Cal won it all.

The semis found Northern Cal beating Caribbean 3-2, and Southern Cal beating Eastern 3-2, just one match tie-break in the latter match.  The final between the Californias was 3-2 as well one match tie-break each way with Southern Cal winning.

Congratulations to SoCal on the win!

2018 National Champions: 40 & Over 4.5+ women Pacific Northwest

The National Champion was decided for the 40 & Over 4.5+ women today in Las Vegas, and when all was said and done, Pacific Northwest won it all.

The semis found Southern beating Texas 3-2, and Pacific NW beating NorCal 3-2, each with key match tie-breaks.  The final was 3-2 as well but all straight sets with Pacific NW winning.

Congratulations to PNW on the win!

2018 National Champions: 40 & Over 3.5 women Pacific Northwest

The National Champion was decided for the 40 & Over 3.5 women today in Arlington, TX, and when all was said and done, Pacific Northwest won it all.

It was tight to get into the semis with three teams tied at 3-1 and Florida advancing on head-to-head, and the semis found Pacific NW beating Florida 4-1, and Southern beating Texas 4-1, both as expected.  The final was close Pacific NW winning 3-2 with several close upsets to accomplish it.

Congratulations to PNW on the win!

2018 National Champions: 40 & Over 3.5 men Mid-Atlantic

The National Champion was decided for the 40 & Over 3.5 men today in Arlington, TX, and when all was said and done, Mid-Atlantic won it all.

It was tight to get into the semis with just one 4-0 team and a 6-way tie at 3-1, and the semis found Intermountain beating Middle States 3-2 with two matches decided by match tie-breaks, and Mid-Atlantic beating Eastern 5-0 with five set or match tie-breaks being played.  The final was similarly close but Mid-Atlantic won 3-2 with one match decided in a match tie-break.

All four semifinalists were in my prediction and the finalists were my #2 and #3 teams to make the semis.

Congratulations to Mid-Atlantic on the win!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Day 2 Update: 40 & Over 3.5 women USTA League Nationals - Head to head comes into play

Day 2 is complete and we now know the semi-finalists for the 3.5 women.

First, it is important to note that despite some rain on Friday, all the matches were played in their full format as the USTA did have a plan to get enough matches played indoors on Friday.  Good move and I think the players appreciated it even if they had to play late Saturday night.

The women did end up with three teams undefeated in Pacific NW, Southern, and Texas.  Then there was a 3-way tie for the 4th spot between Florida, Midwest, and Caribbean.

Caribbean was one court back on the individual court record so they were out, and for the first time I believe this Nationals, the head-to-head came into play, and Florida had beaten Midwest 4-1 in the last match each team played.  This meant Florida advanced and the tie-breaker didn't go to sets lost, which is a good thing for Florida as they lost one more set than Midwest.

So Florida was very clutch as they needed to not just beat Midwest in the last match but do it at least 4-1.  And one of the courts was a match tie-break so I bet it was close.

But, with the semi-finalists, who is the pick to win?  Pacific NW is the pick over Florida, and Southern is the pick over Texas.  The final has Southern the pick to win.

Day 2 Update: 40 & Over 3.5 men USTA League Nationals - Big tie-breaker

Day 2 is complete and we now know the semi-finalists for the 3.5 men.

First, it is important to note that despite some rain on Friday, all the matches were played in their full format as the USTA did have a plan to get enough matches played indoors on Friday.  Good move and I think the players appreciated it even if they had to play late Saturday night.

Despite my simulation indicating there was a good chance of multiple undefeated teams, we ended up with just one, Intermountain, which meant we were going to have a big tie at 3-1.

Eastern was 3-0 going into their last match but sort of had a spot in the semis wrapped up and lost their last one 3-2 to finish 3-1 and 15-5 on courts and get the #2 spot.

Mid-Atlantic lost their first match, and then not only won three straight to get to 3-1, but won their last one 5-0 to move into the #3 spot by themselves at 13-7 on courts.

Then, we had four teams vying for the last spot.  Pacific NW and Southern were 3-1 but just 11-9 on courts which didn't keep them in the running.

Middle States and Texas were both 3-1 and 12-8 on courts so it went to extended tie-breakers.  They didn't play head to head to it went to sets lost where they both lost 16.  Per the rules in play, it then goes to games lost where Middle States lost 8 fewer games so they get the #4 spot.  Note that Texas did win two more sets than Middle States extending two matches to third sets that Middle States didn't, and they also won 19 more games than Middle States so had a larger games won/lost differential, but those aren't included in the current tie-breaker.

In this case, my prediction was spot on as it predicted the four semi-finalists and Texas to be the five teams most likely to make the semis!

Who is favored to win?  Intermountain is the pick over Middle States while Mid-Atlantic is a narrow pick over EasternIntermountain would be the pick in the final.

Good luck teams!

Day 1.5 Update: 40 & Over 3.5 Men USTA League Nationals

Due to rain and altered schedules, day 1 is just finishing up today but with all but one "day 1" match now entered, here is what the simulation looks like now.

Six teams are undefeated, but it appears there is no scenario where they can all remain undefeated, nor even five of them undefeated.  There is a very slim chance of four undefeated so there is a good chance we'll have a tie for at least 4th at 3-1 again.

Here are the teams most likely to be in at least a tie for 4th in order of likelihood:
  • Middle States
  • Intermountain
  • Eastern
  • Texas
  • Northern Cal
  • Southern
  • Hawaii
  • Midwest

Four of the five teams highlighted in the original prediction show up above, just one missing but they could still get to 3-1 and be in the running.

Just the first three have a 4-0 record as the most likely, so a five way tie at 3-1 for one spots is expected, and a few other teams are more likely to finish 2-2 but could join the fray at 3-1.

This could be tight, and with the delays, matches will be going late today so we might not know the semi-finalists until late tonight.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Day 1 Update: 40 & Over 4.5+ Women USTA League Nationals

Day 1 is in the books and here is what the simulation looks like now.

Six teams are undefeated, but it appears there is no scenario where they can all remain undefeated, nor even five or four of them undefeated.  It appears we'll have a tie for at least 4th at 3-1 again.

Here are the teams most likely to be in at least a tie for 4th in order of likelihood:
  • Southern
  • Northern Cal
  • Southern Cal
  • Missouri Valley
  • Pacific NW
  • New England
  • Texas

Three of the above were highlighted in the original prediction, just Florida is missing, but they are missing two of their top-3 players it appears so that may explain it.

The first three have a 4-0 record as the most likely, so a four way tie at 3-1 for one spots is expected, and a few other teams are more likely to finish 2-2 but could join the fray at 3-1, Eastern the most likely one.

Some key matches tomorrow include SoCal vs MoValley, NorCal vs MoValley, and Pacific NW vs Eastern.  Those will go a long way to determining who advances.

Day 1 Update: 40 & Over 4.5+ Men USTA League Nationals

Day 1 is in the books and here is what the simulation looks like now.

Five teams are undefeated, but it appears there is no scenario where they can all remain undefeated, nor even four of them undefeated.  It appears we'll have a tie for at least 4th at 3-1 again.

Here are the teams most likely to be in at least a tie for 4th in order of likelihood:
  • Southern Cal
  • Eastern
  • Northern Cal
  • Northern
  • Texas
  • Florida

Three of the above were highlighted in the original prediction, just Mid-Atlantic is missing, but they were the 4th pick originally to make the semis.

Just Southern Cal and Eastern have a 4-0 record as the most likely, so a four way tie at 3-1 for two spots is expected, and a few other teams are more likely to finish 2-2 but could join the fray at 3-1.

Some key matches tomorrow include Northern vs SoCal, NorCal vs Texas, and Florida vs NorCal.  Those will go a long way to determining who advances.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Kudos to the USTA, there is a plan for the rain this weekend!

The forecast for Arlington, TX where the 40 & Over 3.5 men and women are playing this weekend has not changed, a lot of rain on Friday with clearing Saturday and Sunday.  In light of that, a contingency plan was in order and a plan the USTA has.

From what I've heard, matches will be played Friday at indoor facilities in the area on a different schedule than originally planned, but using full match formats.  This will hopefully get all of Friday's matches complete by end of day.  This is great news and good to see the USTA respond to what happened last weekend.

While the forecast looks good Saturday with just AM clouds, it appears the USTA is playing it safe in case there are lingering showers, or just giving players some time to sleep in after playing late as that schedule has changed too, but the plan is to play outside and play full match formats.  Play will start late morning and as a result go later into the evening than planned, but still good to see a plan that gets all the matches in without abbreviated formats.

For those of us following from afar, we won't be able to trust the schedule we see on TennisLink for when matches should be played, but who cares, full matches will be played!

Thanks to the USTA and specifically the staff working this event for working hard to get the plan in place and to the facilities for stepping in to help.  I've heard SMU and Los Colinas CC are at least some of the facilities, but please let me know others so I can give the well deserved credit.

Let the matches begin!

Update: I learned that some teams are not scheduled to play two matches on Friday but just one, and then three on Saturday.  That is likely the reason for the late start for some teams on Saturday as some Friday matches will be finishing up Saturday morning.

Update 2: As can be seen in the comments, my understanding is that Brookhaven, Lifetime Fitness, and TCU are helping out with courts too.  Thanks!

The good from 2018 USTA League Nationals so far

It is easy to write about the controversial things that occur, and I fall victim to that at times, but also want to remember to write about the good stuff that happens too and this year through two weekends, a lot of good has happened at USTA League Nationals.

First, from most everything I've heard, the new format is a hit.  People like the two matches per day and four guaranteed total as it gives more opportunity for more players to play and puts all the teams on equal footing.  It also gives a team that loses early a chance to still make the semis.

Second, it has only been host one weekend so far, but Las Vegas as a new site appears to have gone very well.  Good weather, and a good forecast this weekend, and no issues of any sort that I'm aware of.

Third, despite the weather challenges there have been, we have not had any co-champions declared and all semis/finals have been played to completion with full format matches.  One can debate the site selection and planning leading up to an event, but once you are there and weather happens, you do your best to adapt and the USTA was creative to get all the matches in last week in Arlington and were able to crown champs on Sunday using full format matches.  Thanks to them for that.

Fourth, Orlando as a site continues to work well.  I've heard no complaints and the National Campus has lots of courts and even some indoor courts in the event of rain, and multiple events have been held successfully.  It is a long trip for those out west like me, but perhaps I'll be fortunate to make it some day.

Fifth, and most importantly, there has been a lot of good competition between similarly skilled players.  A lot of the events have had teams in contention winning/losing 3-2 matches where multiple courts go to match tie-breaks and the results could have gone either way.  This is all you can hope for when you go to Nationals and by and large it is happening.

Let's hope there are more positives this weekend and next as the Adult Nationals wrap up.

What do you think?  If you've gone to Nationals this year, what is the biggest positive you have seen or taken away?

11/18 Weather Update: 40 & Over 3.5 USTA League Nationals, what was learned from last weekend?

Yes, I'm writing another blog post with the dreaded rain image. 🙄

The 40 & Over 3.5 men's and women's Nationals is scheduled to begin play tomorrow in Arlington, TX, but the weather forecast for Friday is not good with a 100% chance of rain.  Thankfully, the forecast for the weekend is better, it appears cloudy to partly cloudy both days.

Here is the forecast as I write this Thursday morning.



Chances are then that there will be significant delays, if not an entire washout of matches on Friday.  That is, unless there is a contingency plan.

Last week, there apparently was no plan in place prior to the event, despite the forecast all week for heavy rain Friday and Saturday, leading to a scramble to find indoor courts and playing nearly every match in a short format, about half using a single first to 4 set to decide a match.

I can only imagine the complaints the USTA received, and in response my understanding is a letter was sent to 4.5 captains/players acknowledging the feedback and apologizing for the inconvenience and experience players had.

The letter also stated that starting this weekend, "adequate contingency plans are in place at each of the various sites for the remainder of the 2018 USTA League National Championships season."

Given the forecast for Friday, I would expect the contingency plan now in place to kick in for Arlington, but have not yet heard what that might be.  I would think it has to be one of:

  1. Indoor courts have been secured for Friday should they be needed and matches will be played in full with normal scoring.
  2. The forecast for Saturday and Sunday is good enough that even if play is completely washed out on Friday, all matches will be played using a short scoring format on Saturday to fit them all in.
  3. Some indoor courts have been secured for Friday, but not enough to get all play in with normal scoring.  Either short scoring is used Friday to try to get all the matches in, or they plan on getting enough matches played Friday that they can catch-up on Saturday, resorting to short scoring if required.

I will update as I hear more, I'd think the plan would be communicated at the captains meeting this evening, but which option would you prefer they incorporate?  I'm guessing folks would vote for #1, but if that isn't possible, which of #2 or #3 would you prefer?

Predicting the 2018 USTA League Nationals semi-finalists and champion - 40 & Over 4.5+ women

Now that the USTA has corrected a scheduling snafu where Mid-Atlantic was scheduled to play five matches, I can do the prediction for the 4.5+ women.

I've written about my simulations of the new format for USTA League Nationals, and hinted at who some favorites are, but now it is time to actually use the simulations to predict who the semi-finalists will be and of those, who the favorite to win it all is.

As a reminder, the simulations use the top-10 average for each team using my estimated ratings, and then account for some variation in play by each team and run through a million iterations to see what the most common result might be.

With the third weekend of Nationals, we'll look at the 40 & Over 4.5+ women that is coming up this weekend in Las Vegas, NV.

The simulation is pretty standard for this event, three teams very likely to at least make a tie for the semis, and four other with a greater than 50% chance.  There is a good chance of four undefeated, 17%, and the "lets hope it doesn't happen" five undefeated has a 4% chance which is higher than most.  Here are the four most likely:
  • Florida - 92%
  • Northern Cal - 90%
  • Southern - 85%
  • Southern Cal - 68%

The chances of these teams advancing is pretty close for #1 thru #3, so tie-breakers will come into play for the seeding in all likelihood, but if they are seeded as I list them, in the semis, Florida would be favored over Southern Cal and NorCal over Southern, and Florida the pick to win the final.

Should one of the above teams falter, Northern is really close to SoCal, and Texas and Pacific NW have good shots, New England the longshot.

If you are on one of the teams, or any team going to Nationals, it is not too late to get more details from my simulation or a flight report to scout opponents and plan your line-ups.  While the above is what the simulation says, the ratings aren't perfect between sections, players have good and bad days, not everyone will make the trip or players other than the top-10 will play, so some smart captaining can still go a long way and my reports can really help.  Contact me if interested in any reports.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

USTA League Nationals Schedule Snafu? 40 & Over 4.5+ women Mid-Atlantic to play five matches

The 40 & Over 4.5+ women are to play their Nationals this weekend in Las Vegas, but like I found a schedule issue with the 18 & Over 3.5 women, I've discovered one for the 4.5+ women.

Looking at the schedule on TennisLink, it appears Mid-Atlantic has five matches to play, their schedule:
  • Friday 10:30 am - Florida
  • Friday 12:30 pm - Middle States
  • Friday 5:00 pm - Southern Cal
  • Saturday 9:00 am - Northern
  • Saturday 2:00 pm - Northern Cal

It would seem one of the Friday matches is wrong.

And it appears Missouri Valley only has three matches, so they probably should be playing one of those matches.  They already are playing Northern, NorCal, and SoCal, so I'm figuring they should be playing one of Florida or Middle States.

I hope they get it straightened out soon!  Play begins in just over a day!

Update: At the same time I wrote this, I sent a note to someone at the USTA and voila, it has been corrected and both Mid-Atlantic and Missouri Valley now play four matches.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Predicting the 2018 USTA League Nationals semi-finalists and champion - 40 & Over 4.5+ men

I've written about my simulations of the new format for USTA League Nationals, and hinted at who some favorites are, but now it is time to actually use the simulations to predict who the semi-finalists will be and of those, who the favorite to win it all is.

As a reminder, the simulations use the top-10 average for each team using my estimated ratings, and then account for some variation in play by each team and run through a million iterations to see what the most common result might be.

With the third weekend of Nationals, we'll look at the 40 & Over 4.5+ men that is coming up this weekend in Las Vegas, NV.

The simulation is pretty standard for this event, a 5% chance of four undefeated, and less than 1% chance of 5.  But there are a couple teams that are pretty big favorites to make at least a tie for the semis, the four most likely being:
  • Southern Cal - 95%
  • Florida - 84%
  • Northern Cal - 69%
  • Mid-Atlantic - 68%

The chances of these teams advancing is very close for #3 and #4, so tie-breakers will come into play for the seeding in all likelihood, but if they are seeded as I list them, in the semis, SoCal would be favored over Mid-Atlantic and Florida over NorCal, and Florida the pick to win the final.

Should one of the above teams falter, Pacific NW is poised to capitalize, but after that, Midwest and Eastern are most likely.

If you are on one of the teams, or any team going to Nationals, it is not too late to get more details from my simulation or a flight report to scout opponents and plan your line-ups.  While the above is what the simulation says, the ratings aren't perfect between sections, players have good and bad days, not everyone will make the trip or players other than the top-10 will play, so some smart captaining can still go a long way and my reports can really help.  Contact me if interested in any reports.

Average rainfall for USTA League Nationals sites - What can we learn?

The USTA has held USTA League Nationals at a variety of sites over the years, and has added two new ones (at least in recent memory) this year in Las Vegas, NV and Arlington, TX.  In light of the weather issues last year and this year already, I thought it would be interesting to look at some objective data, average rainfall totals and days of rain, for all the sites.

Here they are, using information from U.S. Climate Data for average rainfall and Weather Spark for days with precipitation (where available) in October, ordered from least to most rainfall:
  • Palm Springs, CA - 0.20 inches / 1 day
  • Las Vegas, NV - 0.28 inches / 1 day
  • Phoenix, AZ - 0.59 inches / 2 days
  • Tucson, AZ - 1.22 inches / 3 days
  • Orlando, FL - 3.31 / 9 days
  • Mobile, AL - 3.70 / 7 days
  • Arlington, TX - 4.61 inches / 7 days
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL - 6.42 / 11 days

Clearly, there are 4 sites that are drier and 4 that are wetter.  I've bolded the locations for Nationals this year, and apart of Vegas, you can see that save for Ft. Lauderdale, the wettest locations are being used this year.  This is not anything that hard to determine and should have been consulted prior to picking the sites.

And I'll be honest, when I heard Arlington was a site this year, along with Vegas, I thought both would be good because they'd be unlikely to have rain.  I had not looked up the rain situation in Arlington, I just assumed it is central Texas and would be dry, but had I done some research earlier would have been more critical of its selection as a site to hold Nationals.  A 1 in 4 chance of a day being wet and 4.61 inches of rain in a month is a lot and you have to almost expect an event to be affected.

Now, weather is unpredictable, and a storm can come through and it can rain anywhere, none of the above sites are 0% or 0 days so none guarantee a dry event.  And Phoenix even had some rain (but not near the amount Arlington did) last weekend.  But averages do tell a story and, well, on average that is what will occur, and clearly some sites are better and worse to hold an event where dry weather is required.

Additionally, there can be contingency plans in place in the event of weather, for example securing and using indoor facilities in the event of rain, so the availability of those needs to be judged against the risk of needing them.  But it appears there were no plans in advance, or they were not sufficient in Arlington last weekend.

The National Campus in Orlando is not the wettest listed above, but is reasonably wet.  But it also has the capability to adapt as there are some indoor courts there, and they have over 100 courts so have capacity to use more courts and do more in parallel to catch up if needed.  This is a great example of having a contingency plan at a site where there is a chance of rain.

All that said, when players are taking time off from work and spending thousands on airfare and lodging, in my opinion they have a right to expect that between the site selection and/or contingency plans that the event will be held to completion in as close to a full format as possible.

I know more goes into selecting a Nationals site than just saying "let's go there".  A city/facility has to be interested or willing to host, and as I understand it they may even need to bid on it, but I'm also sure the USTA could encourage sites to bid.  Cost of the facility, and convenience/cost for those players traveling to it is also a factor.  But I'm pretty sure the majority of players would choose to spend a few hundred more dollars and have a complete event than to skimp and have an event where just 53% of the planned tennis was played, or 4-way National Champions are declared when matches can't be played.

Let's hope we can avoid more rain the rest of this year's Nationals, but also that future sites are selected in a way and plans put in place that gives a greater chance of a complete event.

Update: A few additions made to use the National Campus in Orlando as an example of how a lot of course and some indoor can be a suitable contingency plan.

Predicting the 2018 USTA League Nationals semi-finalists and champion - 40 & Over 3.5 women

I've written about my simulations of the new format for USTA League Nationals, and hinted at who some favorites are, but now it is time to actually use the simulations to predict who the semi-finalists will be and of those, who the favorite to win it all is.

As a reminder, the simulations use the top-10 average for each team using my estimated ratings, and then account for some variation in play by each team and run through a million iterations to see what the most common result might be.

With the fourth weekend of Nationals, we'll look at the 40 & Over 3.5 women that is coming up this weekend in Arlington, TX.

This event is not as top-heavy as the men's, but there are two teams separated from the rest, although one has a significantly harder schedule.  Still, both are favored to make the semis, here is the full list of those most likely:
  • Southern
  • Missouri Valley
  • Midwest
  • Southwest
  • Southern Cal

There is a mix of the top teams, and teams with easier schedules above.  Southern has the combination of the highest top-10 average and easiest schedule so are expected to be undefeated, but they may be the only one with a glut at 3-1.  The simulation says the most likely number tied is 4, 5, or 6, but there is even an 8% chance of 7 tied.

The chances of these teams advancing is very close for #4 and #5 above, so tie-breakers will come into play for who advances and the seeding in all likelihood, but if they are seeded as I list them, in the semis, Southern would be favored over Southwest and Missouri Valley over Midwest, and Southern the narrow pick to win the final.

Should one of the above teams falter, Pacific NorthwestNorthern Cal, TexasIntermountain, and Middle States are poised to capitalize.

If you are on one of the teams, or any team going to Nationals, it is not too late to get more details from my simulation or a flight report to scout opponents and plan your line-ups.  While the above is what the simulation says, the ratings aren't perfect between sections, players have good and bad days, not everyone will make the trip or players other than the top-10 will play, so some smart captaining can still go a long way and my reports can really help.  Contact me if interested in any reports.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Predicting the 2018 USTA League Nationals semi-finalists and champion - 40 & Over 3.5 men

I've written about my simulations of the new format for USTA League Nationals, and hinted at who some favorites are, but now it is time to actually use the simulations to predict who the semi-finalists will be and of those, who the favorite to win it all is.

As a reminder, the simulations use the top-10 average for each team using my estimated ratings, and then account for some variation in play by each team and run through a million iterations to see what the most common result might be.

With the fourth weekend of Nationals, we'll look at the 40 & Over 3.5 men that is coming up this weekend in Arlington, TX.

The big news here is that this event seems pretty top-heavy with good teams, and most of the good teams have reasonable schedules meaning there is a very good chance, 40%, of having four undefeated teams.  There is even a 16% chance of five undefeated!

That means the most likely teams to make at least a tie for 4th place are going to possibly be undefeated, those being:
  • Texas
  • Mid-Atlantic
  • Intermountain
  • Eastern
  • Middle States

All of the above teams have top-7 top-10 averages, but they all have lower half schedules, it is only the weaker teams that have the tough schedules.

The chances of these teams advancing is very close for #1 thru #3, so tie-breakers will come into play for the seeding in all likelihood, but if they are seeded as I list them, in the semis, Texas would be favored over Eastern and Intermountain narrowly over Mid-Atlantic, and Texas the pick to win the final.

Should one of the above teams falter, Northern Cal is poised to capitalize, but after that, just Midwest, Hawaii, and Southern are long shots..

If you are on one of the teams, or any team going to Nationals, it is not too late to get more details from my simulation or a flight report to scout opponents and plan your line-ups.  While the above is what the simulation says, the ratings aren't perfect between sections, players have good and bad days, not everyone will make the trip or players other than the top-10 will play, so some smart captaining can still go a long way and my reports can really help.  Contact me if interested in any reports.

USTA League Nationals Weather Forecast: October 19-21 40 & Over 3.5/4.5+ and 55 & Over 6.8/8.0

Given the weather issues in Arlington this past weekend, it seems my weather forecasts each week of Nationals are a prudent thing to pay attention to.

This weekend finds the following Nationals taking place.

First, the 40 & Over 3.5 men and women back in Arlington.  Here is the forecast.


Oh no, rain again.  Although Friday is on the tail end of a week of rain so perhaps it will be moving out, perhaps early, and the weekend will be dry.  This one will have to be monitored.

Next, 40 & Over 4.5+ in Las Vegas.  Vegas had no issues last week, here is this weekend's forecast.


Uh-oh, even Vegas has rain the forecast?  It is just showers and is Sunday morning so shouldn't effect round-robin play, and hey, it is Vegas, if anything the forecast of rain will diminish.

55 & Over 6.0/8.0 in Orlando - The weather in Orlando was fine last weekend for the 18 & Over 3.5 Nationals, here the the forecast for this weekend.


It looks warm and muggy, and a 40-50% of precipitation each day which is a little concerning.  But forecasts can change and even with some showers, they may be able to get the matches in, especially with all the courts, and a few indoor, at the National Campus.

So there are some question marks for each location, Orlando is probably the big concern, but right now at least it doesn't appear we'll have a repeat of last week in Arlington.

For what its worth, Phoenix has a chance of scattered thunderstorms on Sunday, but no worse than any of the above, and Indian Wells is partly cloud at worst the whole weekend.  Anyone think Nationals should have been there instead?

Let's hope the weather is better than the forecasts.

Top-8 observations from the second weekend of the new USTA League Nationals format

The second weekend of 2018 USTA League Nationals was this weekend with the 18 & Over 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, and 4.5 levels playing in Arlington, TX, Las Vegas, NV, and Orlando, FL.  Given the new format for Nationals this year, I wrote some thoughts last week and more were in order.  Here are my top-8.

First, the new format gives all teams at least 4 matches and last week everyone played them, but this week two men's 3.5 teams didn't, just not playing their last match.  I'm not sure why but guessing injuries or fatigue in what was a match not influencing who made the semis.  But this raises the question of what happens when a team is tired and doesn't want to play and it does affect the semis?

Second, we still haven't had any events finish with only undefeated teams in the semis.  While it was possible for this to happen, and it was even possible to end up with 5 or more undefeated sending an undefeated team home, it didn't happen and we had ties for 4th place and the last semi spot.

Third, the ties continue to be all with 3-1 records.  While it was possible for ties to happen with 2-2 records, it did not happen this weekend.

Fourth, the size of the ties on record has almost always been 4 or 5 teams which is in line with my simulations, just 3 teams and 6 teams once each.  It is possible for these ties to be significantly larger though.

Fifth, the tie-breakers were then important.  The tie-breaker has usually been sets lost, but we had a head-to-head tie-breaker this weekend where if sets lost would have been used the teams would have been swapped.  We also had a team that would have won the head-to-head tie-breaker and make the semis but didn't as they were one game back on individual courts which is used first.  We did not see the flawed tie-breaker come into play again.

Sixth, and perhaps I should have led with this, we had major weather issues in Arlington affect play and require short to ultra short playing formats.  Just 4 of 72 team matches played had normal/full scoring with all the matches on day 1 using a modified Fast-4 format and all day 2 matches being a single first to 4 set!  The new format has more matches to play, so having good weather is even more important than before and Arlington was bit this week.

Seventh, sections making the semis were fairly spread out, although Caribbean always does well in 2.5-3.5 and did so here, the Midwest came through across levels especially 4.5.  Here are the counts:
  • Caribbean - 2.5W, 3.0W, 3.0M, 3.5W
  • Midwest - 2.5W, 3.5W, 4.5W, 4.5M
  • Southern - 3.0M, 3.5W, 3.5M, 4.5W
  • Intermountain - 3.0W, 3.0M, 3.5M
  • NorCal - 3.0W, 3.5M, 4.5M
  • Florida - 3.5W, 3.5M
  • New England - 2.5W, 4.5W
  • Pacific NW - 2.5W, 3.0M
  • SoCal - 3.0W, 4.5M
  • Texas - 4.5W, 4.5M

Eighth, despite all the excitement of this weekend, there are more possibilities to come including:
  • Rain is forecast again for Arlington this weekend
  • Four undefeated teams make the semis meaning no controversy or tie-breakers
  • Five teams go undefeated and one is sent home without making the semis which would be unfortunate
  • A seven or more way tie for a semi-final spot and the confusion and controversy that might ensue
  • A tie at 2-2 for a semi-final spot, and won't that be a doozy
  • More than two teams in a tie having to go to the really flawed games lost tie-breaker
  • Teams being tied on the games lost tie-breaker and going to the feared "method to be determined by the Championship Committee" to break the tie
  • A team scheduled to be there doesn't show up and the USTA has to change the schedule on the fly

So there is still a lot to look forward to as we move into 40 & Over events.  Stay tuned for more simulations and predictions this week.  And if you want even more info to help scout opponents and plan your line-ups, contact me about flight or team reports.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

2018 National Champions: 18 & Over 3.5 women Florida

The National Champion was decided for the 3.5 women today in Orlando at the National Campus, and when all was said and done, Florida won it all.

Florida and Caribbean were undefeated in round-robin and beat Midwest and Southern in the semis 4-1 and 3-2 respectively, and then Florida won the final 4-1.

Florida and Southern were two of the teams expected to be in the semis from my prediction,

Congratulations to Florida on the win.

2018 National Champions: 18 & Over 4.5 women Southern

The National Champion was decided for the 4.5 women today in Arlington, and when all was said and done after much hullabaloo, delays, and strange short scoring formats, Southern won it all.

The semis saw Texas, Midwest, New England, and Southern survive playing matches with single 4 game sets on day 2, and Midwest and Souther won 3-2 semis to make the final where Southern won the final.

Southern was the pick in my prediction, and just New England was mentioned, so Midwest and Texas came through and capitalized on the short scoring format.

Congratulations to Southern!

2018 National Champions: 18 & Over 4.5 men Midwest

The National Champion was decided for the 4.5 men today in Arlington, and when all was said and done after much hullabaloo, delays, and strange short scoring formats, Midwest won it all.

The semis saw Midwest, NorCal, Texas, and SoCal survive playing matches with single 4 game sets on day 2, and Midwest and Texas won 3-2 semis to make the final where Midwest won a 3-2 final.

SoCal and Texas were in my prediction, but Midwest and NorCal came through and capitalized on the short score format.

Congratulations to Midwest!

2018 National Champions: 18 & Over 3.5 men Intermountain

The National Champion was decided for the 3.5 men today in Orlando at the National Campus, and when all was said and done, Intermountain won it all.

The semis were loaded with self-rated players, Southern's and NorCal's rosters entirely self-rated and Florida's roster nearly all so, just Intermountain had mostly computer rated players.  Both winners, Intermountain and NorCal, won 3-2 each with match tie-breaks in matches so it was close, and Intermountain won to take the title.

Intermountain was the one team from my predictions that made the semis so it was not a surprise they won.  Southern and NorCal were teams I said would be right there though.

Another interesting observation is that not all the teams played 4 matches, not by design but it appears New England and Missouri Valley just didn't play their last match.  Perhaps injuries or fatigue were involved and both teams decided not to play.

Regardless, congratulations to Intermountain on the win.

Update on Semis/Finals: 18 & Over 3.5 and 4.5 USTA League Nationals

It is Sunday morning and that means semis have been played at USTA League Nationals in Orlando and Arlington.

In Orlando where the 3.5 men and women are playing, Intermountain beat Florida 3-2, and NorCal beat Southern 3-2 to set up what should be a very good final.  For the women, Florida beat Midwest 4-1 and Caribbean beat Southern 3-2.

In Arlington, despite losing an entire day to weather, they got to the 4.5 . semis by playing single 4 game sets late last night and Midwest has been the benefactor, the men beating SoCal in their semi 3-2 while Texas beat NorCal 3-2.  For the women, Midwest beat Texas 3-2 and will face New England or Southern, that score not entered yet.

The 3.0 men and women are in Vegas so should be playing now.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Day 2 Update: 18 & Over 3.0 Women USTA League Nationals

Day 2 is complete, and we now know the semi-finalists for the 18 & Over 3.0 women.

And with the new format for Nationals, we get to see how the ties play out, how large the group tied is and what tie-breakers are ultimately used, and how equitable they are.

SectionRecordCourtsSets
Intermountain4-015-533-12
NorCal4-015-530-13
Caribbean3-115-531-14
SoCal3-115-530-14
Pacific NW3-113-729-16
Florida3-112-827-19
New England3-111-923-20

There was a 2-way tie for first at 4-0 between Intermountain and NorCal and it was close but broken on the sets lost tie-breaker, one fewer lost for Intermountain, and Intermountain won more sets too.

But then there were 5 teams for 2 spots, and Caribbean and SoCal took the spots ahead of Pacific NW, Florida, and New England, but they were tied on individual courts won/lost and sets lost.  It would normally go to games lost and SoCal lost fewer games, 145 to 154, but these teams played head to head and Caribbean won so they get the 3rd set.  For what its worth, I agree with this.  Also interestingly, Pacific NW beat Caribbean, but because they didn't win as many courts that tie-breaker didn't come into play.

Good luck to the teams in the semis!

Day 1 Update: 18 & Over 4.5 Women USTA League Nationals

The weather delayed day 1 of the 4.5 women finally completed this morning, and I understand they will be playing each match as a single set to 4 games with so few courts/time available, so any predictions are probably highly suspect, but here goes.

The most likely to at least be in a tie for 4th are:
  • Southern
  • Florida
  • Pacific NW
  • Hawaii
  • Texas
  • Southern Cal

That is six teams for four spots, other teams have longer shots, but with this format, who knows!

There could be four undefeated, a decent change at 10% chance of that, but a tie for fourth is very likely and we are then subject to the flawed tie-breakers perhaps.

Good luck, we'll see what happens!

Day 1 Update: 18 & Over 4.5 Men USTA League Nationals

The weather delayed day 1 of the 4.5 men finally completed this morning, and I understand they will be playing each match as a single set to 4 games with so few courts/time available, so any predictions are probably highly suspect, but here goes.

The most likely to at least be in a tie for 4th are:

  • Pacific Northwest
  • Midwest
  • Florida
  • Northern
  • Northern Cal
  • Missouri Valley
  • Southern Cal

That is seven teams for four spots, other teams have longer shots, but with this format, who knows!

There could be four undefeated, but just a 1% chance of that, so a tie for fourth is very likely and we are then subject to the flawed tie-breakers perhaps.

Good luck, we'll see what happens!

Weather Update 3: Even shorter format for 18 & Over 4.5 men and women

As noted in weather update 2, matches for day 1 were not finished in Arlington for the 4.5 men and women.  I understand they did get them finished early this morning, I believe using the few indoor courts they were able to secure, but there has been no play so far today.

I believe some indoor courts have been secured, but not until the evening, and the forecast has improved, rain may stop by 5pm, so I suppose outdoor courts could be playable by 6pm or so.

I just got an update from someone at the even that they were told their next match will be at 6:30pm indoors, and take a seat for this, with an even shorter format.

The format I was told is each individual match will be one set to 4 win by 2, no-ad scoring, with a first to 7 win by 2 tie-break at 4-4.

This will keep matches short, and perhaps they can get enough matches in to have a semis and final tomorrow, or at least finish up the day 2 matches first thing so the semis and final can also be completed with this or another slightly less short format.

Given how much such a short format makes things unpredictable, I hesitate to do an updated prediction, but stay tuned, I probably will anyway.

Note that this is certainly not ideal, but is perhaps the best that could be done given the situation.  Let's hope the USTA learns and comes up with better contingency plans (different sites, secure indoor courts earlier) in the future.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Day 1 Update: 18 & Over 3.5 Women USTA League Nationals

Day 1 is complete in Orlando and here is what the simulation looks like now.

Five teams are undefeated, but as the schedule has been made it appears there is not a chance of all, or even four of them, remaining undefeated.  This means a tie at 3-1.

There are four teams that stand out as being the most likely to at least tie for 4th, those being:

  • Florida
  • Intermountain
  • Middle States
  • Southern

Three of the teams above were highlighted in my prediction, so things are playing out somewhat as expected.

After the above, Southern Cal and Southwest have good chances to get in the mix, but any others are pretty doubtful.

Day 1 Update: 18 & Over 3.5 Men USTA League Nationals

Day 1 is in the books and here is what the simulation looks like now.

Five teams are undefeated, and there is a scenario where they all remain so, but just a 0.2% chance of it happening according to my simulation.

Four teams at 4-0 is possible, but just a 6% chance, so we are likely to have a tie for 4th again.  Here are the teams most likely to be in at least a tie for 4th in order of likelihood:
  • Intermountain
  • Northern Cal
  • Southern
  • Florida
  • Middle States
  • Pacific Northwest
  • Eastern
  • Mid-Atlantic
  • Caribbean

Three of the above were highlighted in the original prediction, just Texas a surprising absentee.

A few other teams could get to 3-1, but it is pretty doubtful.  Although, there is a 2.6% chance the tie for 4th is with a 2-2 record.

Some really key matches in the morning with Florida playing Caribbean, Eastern vs Middle States, and Mid-Atlantic vs PNW.  The result of those will go a long way to deciding things.

Weather Update 2: 18 & Over 4.5 USTA Nationals day 1 not finished yet, rain forecast for the next 24 hours

I wrote earlier that the USTA League Nationals in Arlington, TX had rain forecast and were preemptively going to a modified Fast-4 format to shorten match times and try and get the matches in.

Unfortunately, there were rain delays today and despite the short format, the matches scheduled for day 1 are not yet complete, let alone getting ahead for day 2.  Picture to the right is from a Facebook follower at the event that posted it.

Worse, the forecast for the next 24+ hours is pretty much solid rain.  There may be a brief break later tonight, and perhaps players stick around to try and finish a few more matches, but as of right now, from 6am to 6pm tomorrow, the chance of rain is at least 75% every hour and it only drops to 50% by 11pm Saturday.  But the break appears brief as Sunday's forecast is for more rain.



I'm not sure what the contingency plan is, but I hope it doesn't come down to flipping coins to decide winners or declaring co-champs again like was done last year at one of the weather affected events.  But I think they need to at least complete the round-robin to even be able to declare co-champs?

Perhaps whenever they call it and scores are in, they'll ask me to simulate the remainder of the matches to declare the semi-finalists?  I'm not holding my breath but will probably do the simulation anyway!

Update: I hear there may be some indoor courts that can be used, I have no idea how many or for what period of time.

Weather Update: 18 & Over 4.5 Nationals playing modified Fast 4 due to forecast for rain

I wrote yesterday in my preview of the weekend that Arlington, TX, the site of the 18 & Over 4.5 Nationals, that rain was forecast for Saturday and even a good chance of showers today and Sunday.

I've learned that it appears the USTA is taking the pre-emptive step of going to a short format immediately and is not waiting for the rain to come.  The format is is a modified Fast 4, first two sets first player to 4 games (no tie-break) and a 3rd set that is a 12 point (first to 7) tie-break.  I have not confirmed, but I'm guessing the games are no-ad as well.

This format will definitely get matches done quicker.  The absolute most points played (assuming a 7-5 3rd set tie-break) is 110.  While a normal scoring match that goes to one deuce every game and 7-5 tie-breaks the first two sets and a 10-8 tie-break in the third would be 234.  So the matches should take about half the time and perhaps they can get most if not all the round-robin in today.

Of course, there was a 50% chance of rain today, so doing that may be difficult.

Stay tuned for updates.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The second weekend of 2018 USTA League Nationals will be busy!

The first weekend of USTA League Nationals completed with generally positive feedback on the new format.  Despite a team DQ and flawed tie-breaker coming in to play, National Champs were decided for the 18 & Over 4.0 and 5.0+ levels.

The second weekend only speeds up with a full 7 champions to be determined.

The National Campus in Orlando hosts the 18 & Over 2.5 women and 3.5 men and women.  New site Las Vegas hosts the 18 & Over 3.0 men and women.  And Arlington, TX hosts for the second week in a row, the 18 & Over 4.5 men and women playing there.

I've done simulations and predictions of most of the events, see the links in the paragraph above.

As always, given weather issues of the past, we must check the weather report.

  • Las Vegas - Sunny, 0% chance of rain, highs in the upper 70s to low 80s
  • Arlington - Highs in the upper 60s, 50% chance of showers Friday, 80% Saturday, 50% Sunday, does not look good :(
  • Orlando -  Partly cloudy to Sunny, highs in the low 80s, just a 20% chance of showers Sunday

The concern is obviously in Arlington as that is a foreboding forecast.  Lets hope the rain stays away, but it looks like there is a good chance of disruptions and perhaps shorten scoring formats.

What about the weather in the Southwest where arguably all Nationals should be?
  • Indian Wells - Sunny, upper 80s, just 20% chance of a shower on Saturday
  • Phoenix - Highs around 80 and 60% chance of thunderstorms on Saturday

So Phoenix is actually not ideal this weekend, but still not as bad a forecast as Arlington.


Good luck to all the teams

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Predicting the 2018 USTA League Nationals semi-finalists and champion - 18 & Over 4.5 men

I've written about my simulations of the new format for USTA League Nationals, and hinted at who some favorites are, but now it is time to actually use the simulations to predict who the semi-finalists will be and of those, who the favorite to win it all is.

As a reminder, the simulations use the top-10 average for each team using my estimated ratings, and then account for some variation in play by each team and run through a million iterations to see what the most common result might be.

With the second weekend of Nationals, we'll look at the 18 & Over 4.5 men that is coming up this weekend in Arlington, TX.  Here is the link to the earlier simulation write-up.

The most likely teams to make at least a tie for 4th place are:
  • Southern Cal - 88%
  • Northern - 79%
  • Florida - 69%
  • Missouri Valley - 65%

These numbers are not as high as some other events, but still SoCal is a solid favorite to make the semis.

I did increase the variability a bit for these predictions for week 2 of Nationals, but the percentages are still pretty high especially for SoCal.  We'll see how well they predict.

In this case, 3 of the top-4 teams are all represented in the list, #4 has a tougher schedule and falls down the predicted record list a bit.

The chances of these teams advancing are pretty straight-forward but #3 and #4 are  close, so tie-breakers will come into play for the seeding in all likelihood, but if they are seeded as I list them, in the semis, SoCal would be favored MoValley and Florida over Eastern, and SoCal the narrow pick to win the final.

Should one of the above teams falter, Caribbean and Southern are close behind and most likely to take advantage of it, with Texas a team that could cause trouble if they can win some close ones.

If you are on one of the teams, or any team going to Nationals, it is not too late to get more details from my simulation or a flight report to scout opponents and plan your line-ups.  While the above is what the simulation says, the ratings aren't perfect between sections, players have good and bad days, not everyone will make the trip or players other than the top-10 will play, so some smart captaining can still go a long way and my reports can really help.  Contact me if interested in any reports.

Predicting the 2018 USTA League Nationals semi-finalists and champion - 18 & Over 4.5 women

I've written about my simulations of the new format for USTA League Nationals, and hinted at who some favorites are, but now it is time to actually use the simulations to predict who the semi-finalists will be and of those, who the favorite to win it all is.

As a reminder, the simulations use the top-10 average for each team using my estimated ratings, and then account for some variation in play by each team and run through a million iterations to see what the most common result might be.

With the second weekend of Nationals, we'll look at the 18 & Over 4.5 women that is coming up this weekend in Arlington, TX.  Here is the link to the earlier simulation write-up.

The most likely teams to make at least a tie for 4th place are:
  • Southern - 98%
  • Northern Cal - 95%
  • Pacific Northwest - 85%
  • Caribbean - 65%

The top-3 teams are pretty big favorites to advance, and they are joined by Caribbean.

I did increase the variability a bit for these predictions for week 2 of Nationals, but the percentages are still pretty high especially for Southern and NorCal.  We'll see how well they predict.

In this case, 3 of the top-4 teams are all represented in the list, but the #3 team has the hardest schedule and may struggle to make the semis.

The chances of these teams advancing is very close for the top-2, so tie-breakers will come into play for the seeding in all likelihood, but if they are seeded as I list them, in the semis, Southern would be favored over Caribbean and NorCal over PNW, and Southern the pick to win the final.

Should one of the above teams falter, Missouri Valley and Florida are close behind and most likely to take advantage of it, with Hawaii and New England being long shots that have a chance.

If you are on one of the teams, or any team going to Nationals, it is not too late to get more details from my simulation or a flight report to scout opponents and plan your line-ups.  While the above is what the simulation says, the ratings aren't perfect between sections, players have good and bad days, not everyone will make the trip or players other than the top-10 will play, so some smart captaining can still go a long way and my reports can really help.  Contact me if interested in any reports.

Predicting the 2018 USTA League Nationals semi-finalists and champion - 18 & Over 3.5 men

I've written about my simulations of the new format for USTA League Nationals, and hinted at who some favorites are, but now it is time to actually use the simulations to predict who the semi-finalists will be and of those, who the favorite to win it all is.

As a reminder, the simulations use the top-10 average for each team using my estimated ratings, and then account for some variation in play by each team and run through a million iterations to see what the most common result might be.

With the second weekend of Nationals, we'll look at the 18 & Over 3.5 men that is coming up this weekend in Orland,  FL.  Here is the link to the earlier simulation write-up.

The most likely teams to make at least a tie for 4th place are:
  • Texas - 98%
  • Middle States - 90%
  • Intermountain - 77%
  • Mid-Atlantic - 76%

I did increase the variability a bit for these predictions for week 2 of Nationals, but the percentages are still pretty high for the top-2 teams.  We'll see how well they predict.

Three of the top-4 rated teams do make the list above, the other has one of the tougher schedules and would be the 6th pick.

The chances of these teams advancing is very close for #3 vs #4, so tie-breakers will come into play for the seeding in all likelihood, but if they are seeded as I list them, in the semis, Texas would be favored over Mid-Atlantic and Intermountain narrowly over Middle States, and Texas the pick to win the final.

Should one of the above teams falter, Northern Cal, Eastern, and Southern are most likely to take advantage of it, with Middle States and NorCal having a shot too, and Caribbean is perennially underrated and does better than expected.

If you are on one of the teams, or any team going to Nationals, it is not too late to get more details from my simulation or a flight report to scout opponents and plan your line-ups.  While the above is what the simulation says, the ratings aren't perfect between sections, players have good and bad days, not everyone will make the trip or players other than the top-10 will play, so some smart captaining can still go a long way and my reports can really help.  Contact me if interested in any reports.

Predicting the 2018 USTA League Nationals semi-finalists and champion - 18 & Over 3.5 women

I've written about my simulations of the new format for USTA League Nationals, and hinted at who some favorites are, but now it is time to actually use the simulations to predict who the semi-finalists will be and of those, who the favorite to win it all is.

As a reminder, the simulations use the top-10 average for each team using my estimated ratings, and then account for some variation in play by each team and run through a million iterations to see what the most common result might be.

With the second weekend of Nationals, we'll look at the 18 & Over 3.5 women that is coming up this weekend in Orlando, FL.  Here is the link to the earlier simulation write-up.

The most likely teams to make at least a tie for 4th place are:
  • Texas - 98%
  • Southern - 80%
  • Mid-Atlantic - 68%
  • Florida - 68%
  • Intermountain - 68%

Yes, I know I'm showing five above, and that isn't because I'm predicting another team to qualify for the semis only to be DQ'd, instead it is because the teams 3 thru 5 are literally hundredths different in the simulation so it really is too close to call on which to predict will advance.

I did increase the variability a bit for these predictions for week 2 of Nationals, but the percentages are still pretty high especially for Texas.  We'll see how well they predict.

In this case, the top-4 teams are all represented in the list.  The teams, especially Texas, are somewhat separated from the others on top-10 average, and they have reasonable schedules so they rise to the top.

The chances of these teams advancing is very close for the top-3, so tie-breakers will come into play for the seeding in all likelihood, but if they are seeded as I list them, in the semis, Texas would be favored over any of 3 thru 5 and Southern over any of them as well but it is extremely close, and Texas the pick to win the final.

Should one of the above teams falter, Northern and Southwest are close behind and most likely to take advantage of it, with Middle States and NorCal having a shot too, and Caribbean is perennially underrated and does better than expected.

Note that ESL bumped up players are not eligible for Nationals and this significantly affected a few teams and really changed the landscape of the event.  I originally did my analysis including these ineligible players and Southern was the pick to win it all, and now isn't even mentioned.

If you are on one of the teams, or any team going to Nationals, it is not too late to get more details from my simulation or a flight report to scout opponents and plan your line-ups.  While the above is what the simulation says, the ratings aren't perfect between sections, players have good and bad days, not everyone will make the trip or players other than the top-10 will play, so some smart captaining can still go a long way and my reports can really help.  Contact me if interested in any reports.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Southern, and others, bit by the Nationals rule regarding early start league bump ups again

For a few years now, there have been no early start ratings and instead, players just played at their current level for early start leagues.  However, if they were bumped up at year-end, they became ineligible to play at the lower level at Nationals.

The problem is, some sections allow these players to continue to play on their teams through Sectionals.  This creates the awkward situation where a team wins Sectionals, but then may have their roster gutted if they have players that were bumped up for the current year.

Last year, a team in Southern won Sectionals but then didn't even have enough eligible players to go to Nationals, but others have been affected just by not having their best players eligible and having to go with weaker/smaller rosters.

This year, teams are being affected again.  I originally did my simulation and prediction of the 18 & Over 3.0 women, and Southern was far and away the team picked to win.  But when you remove the 8(!) players rostered who are now 3.5s, while they still have enough to make the trip, it is a much smaller/weaker roster.  This isn't just unique to Southern, but any section with early start leagues and this year the Southwest 3.0 women are in a similar situation with 5 players ineligible.

This really shakes up the strengths of the teams, and frankly puts those sections at a disadvantage at Nationals as they are not sending their strongest teams, as the Sectional runner up, or some other team beaten along the way, may be a stronger team when just Nationals eligible players are considered.

This isn't limited to the women either, the 18 & Over 3.0 men have also been impacted.  The Southern team has 7 players rostered that are ineligible for Nationals.

If you are from another section, I guess take advantage of it, but if you are on an affected team, I feel for you, but I also feel for the teams that lost to you along the way that could have perhaps been at Nationals if the eligibility rules were consistent across the sections and through the year.

What do you think?

Predicting the 2018 USTA League Nationals semi-finalists and champion - 18 & Over 3.0 men

I've written about my simulations of the new format for USTA League Nationals, and hinted at who some favorites are, but now it is time to actually use the simulations to predict who the semi-finalists will be and of those, who the favorite to win it all is.

As a reminder, the simulations use the top-10 average for each team using my estimated ratings, and then account for some variation in play by each team and run through a million iterations to see what the most common result might be.

With the second weekend of Nationals, we'll look at the 18 & Over 3.0 men that is coming up this weekend in Las Vegas, NV.  Here is the link to the earlier simulation write-up.

The most likely teams to make at least a tie for 4th place are:
  • New England - 97%
  • Midwest - 90%
  • Intermountain - 86%
  • Pacific NW - 76%

I did increase the variability a bit for these predictions for week 2 of Nationals, but the percentages are still pretty high.  We'll see how well they predict.

Note also that these are not the top-4 rated teams, as schedule strengths are a factor and two of the above teams slip in to the semis without being one of the highest rated 4 due to the two easiest schedules in the event while two of the top-4 rated teams have tougher schedules.

The chances of these teams advancing is very close for the top-3, so tie-breakers will come into play for the seeding in all likelihood, but if they are seeded as I list them, in the semis, New England would be favored over PNW and Intermountain over Midwest, and New England the pick to win the final.

Should one of the above teams falter, Missouri Valley is most likely to take advantage of it, with Middle States and NorCal having a shot too, and Caribbean is perennially underrated and does better than expected.

Note that ESL bumped up players are not eligible for Nationals and this significantly affected a few teams and really changed the landscape of the event.  I originally did my analysis including these ineligible players and Southern was the pick to win it all, and now isn't even mentioned.

If you are on one of the teams, or any team going to Nationals, it is not too late to get more details from my simulation or a flight report to scout opponents and plan your line-ups.  While the above is what the simulation says, the ratings aren't perfect between sections, players have good and bad days, not everyone will make the trip or players other than the top-10 will play, so some smart captaining can still go a long way and my reports can really help.  Contact me if interested in any reports.