Thursday, January 3, 2013

Shall we play a game?

That was the question asked by Joshua the computer in the 1983 Matthew Broderick movie War Games.  That computer basically had a mind of its own, which is what I think of whenever the USTA mid-year and end-of-year ratings come out.  With this last end-of-year rating, I got bumped up from 4.0 to 4.5. I don’t have a problem with my bump up; I had a pretty decent record (13-4) at 4.0 for the 2012 calendar year (18+ and 40+) and I went 1-1 at sectionals with one of my teams which puts me at an overall 14-5 at 4.0 (not including my combo and tri-level wins/losses since I have been told they don’t count towards ratings)   However, what gets me is why some of the top 4.0 players that I lost to over the course of the year didn’t get bumped up. In particular, one guy I lost to three times within a course of three months.  He went 21-3 at 4.0 in three leagues (18+ and 40+) for the 2012 calendar year.  That doesn’t include his 5-0 at sectionals for one of his teams which would put him at 26-3 and 18 of those 26 wins were with the same doubles partner and the partner didn’t get bumped up either!

I have been given several explanations in the past about computer ratings; “it’s not just your wins, but your quality losses that affect your rating, you know, losing closely to top players” or “it’s not only who you beat, but who your opponents beat that affect your rating as well”; and “your combo matches, tri-level matches, and mixed doubles matches don’t count towards ratings” .  I’ve seen a set of doubles partners that played exclusively together, one got bumped up the other didn’t. I’ve seen a guy get bumped up from 4.0 to 4.5, go 4-2 at the 4.5 level, then get bumped down to 4.0 for the following season only to get bumped back up again to 4.5 the following season. I’ve known guys who have tanked matches to stay down and still get bumped up. I sometimes wonder if the USTA rating computer and the college football BCS computer are one in the same. 

At the end of the movie War Games, Joshua the computer realizes that playing Global Thermonuclear War is pointless. Which is basically what it feels like trying to figure out how the USTA ratings are determined.   Hopefully we all don’t come to the same conclusion about playing tennis that Joshua did about playing Global Thermonuclear War, “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?”

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sonterra Select has strong Fall

Last weekend the Sonterra select 4.0 40+ team fought through a tough sectional draw to win the sectional championships. I don't have a lot of info but I know clutch play from Bingham, Arellano and Rojas really helped the team win it all. The Select tri-level team will also represent San Antonio at sections in Feb ( I think). Congratulation to these teams and good luck in the spring. Next year it looks like nationals will be on the line. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

USTA league restructuring vs. NTRP

The USTA continues to restructure their leagues into a more "age friendly" format. How do you feel this impacts the importance of the NTRP rating system? After all, NTRP was designed to level the playing field regardless of age. The USTA seems to be catering to junior and senior members which is likely where the majority of funds are flowing in from.  Whats next, 40+ tournaments?