Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Props to Tosha

Some of the obvious tankers received the ratings they deserved.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Year End Ratings are Out

The ratings are here. There may still be further adjustments made. As noted before, appeals are now easy and many people will probably be moved down.

Here are my first impressions:

Notable bumps to 5.0:

Odion Dibua, Tim Green, Tim Hurlbert, Ryan Kudva, Henry Li, Phong Regent

I know people are quite opinionated on Tim (and perhaps Phong and Henry) being moved up, but I don't have a strong opinion on it either way. They have obviously been Sectional-level players in 4.5 for many years and have had tons of success. I'm sure they will be successful playing 5.0 as well. On the other hand, none of them is in any way a dominant force at Sectionals and I certainly wouldn't have any problem with them staying at 4.5. I think it's kind of ironic that they all got moved up THIS year when I feel that their play (and results) has been better in many previous years. Phong and Henry played much of their tennis in 5.0 league, which is what helped to push them upwards.

Notable bumps up to 4.5:

Sarosh Ahmed, Sam Ahn, John Biers, Quack Bui, Bernie De la Torre, Greg Dwyer, Matt Evelt, Brian Goldberg, Bret Hern, Eddie Janek, Wade Karel, Jason Kern, Kris Knutson, Don Obenrader, Eddie Perdomo, Richard Perreras, Jason Rawls, Chad Reed, David Romero, Thomas Sawaya, Peter Strasser, John Swartley, Thomas Tran-Park, John Veilleux.

I'm sure I missed quite a few. I must say I'm baffled at being included in that list. My play was quite poor and my results were mediocre at best. I have yet to appeal, but will try to do so soon. I'm shocked at being included on the list.

It looks like 6 of Freeman's guys got bumped, which is a little higher than I thought given that they didn't fare that well at Nationals. Their high ratings helped to inflate the rest of Houston's ratings a bit. The Rice team had even the Heat team had 5 players bumped.

4.5 Bump Downs and Players who didn't get moved up:

David B., Blessing B., Lukas Jendek, Grant Murphy, Gary Armstrong

Wow. I'm shocked that those names are on this list. No offense to Tim, Phong, Henry or anyone else, but I would have expected a lot of these names to have been rated 5.0 ahead of those three.

It's quite possible that Houston could put together a super strong 4.5 team this year. If Murphy, David and Blessing are on the same team, that would be quite a nice foundation. Perhaps Sectionals in 2008 in 4.5 will be interesting after all....

I just glanced quickly at the new 4.0 list. I only noticed one interesting drop down: Ken Sjoberg. I'm sure there were others, but none jumped out at me. Jason Freeman was among those bumped up from 3.5....

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

That time of year...

The new ratings are generally published around mid-to-late November so that players may plan for early 2008 tournaments. I would expect to see the new ratings within a week or so, though I've not heard any official date announced.

It will be interesting to see how the local ratings have changed from the midyear ratings. Houston saw one of its teams in 4.0 head to Nationals, where they had mediocre results (albeit against top-flight competition). If their players receive mediocre ratings, it will keep most Houstonians from being bumped up out of 4.0...as the Hurricanes pretty much ran over most teams in Texas in 2007.

Houston's 5.0 team did not do anything special up in Dallas, and most of their players will not receive espeically high ratings. This may result in some "bump downs" from 5.0. Both of Houston's 4.5 representatives at Sectionals performed well, and most of their players will either be rated 5.0 or in the upper reaches of the 4.5 range. Remember, ratings "filter down", so a great performance by a team at Nationals generally results in high ratings for their players....and as a result the players who played them at Sectionals often receive high ratings if they played a competitve match with the Nationals player(s). And so on...

Personally, I was (rather inexplicably) on the "bump up" list at midyear, but expect that I may be back down when the official ratings come out. Remember, those players "within tolerance" (I believe tolerance is .05) will have their appeals granted automatically. The appeals process has become much easier nowadays. Freeman knows the ins and outs of the process and could explain it much better than I can if anyone is curious.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Discretionary No Ad Scoring in HTA League Play?

Having played league for a while now both in HTA and other organizations I am fascinated by nearly 100% of people's feelings towards no-ad scoring....the consensus is that it is universally hated regardless of age, gender or level of play.

The version of full tennis is what is used in every aspect of HTA league play..singles, doubles and even Mixed have this reader's digest version of tennis as the de-facto standard format.

Some of the pros and cons from my perspective are:

+ Matches are set to an approximate fixed time interval (targeted 90 minutes) and by doing this 2 cycles of matches can be played during the work week with the first match starting at 7p. I think everyone has been subjected to playing the last match at MP when the dude sounds the horn.

- No-ad scoring favors the weaker team...sometimes 3-3 is a coin toss.

Several other organizations allow the matches to be full sets of tennis with either a 3rd set 10-point tiebreak or a full 3rd set as the match decider.

My question is:

Why can HTA not institute a discretionary no-ad scoring policy based on agreements between the captains at the beginning of the match based on the in-situ capability of the facility on a given evening?

I fully understand the situation at some places around town where court time is at a premium during the work week (MP, HF, CuField), however at a lot of clubs all matches start at 7p and then are done promptly at ~815p, with 5 courts empty or people playing an additional set for fun since the courts are available and they want to play some more.

I think this is something that can be accommodated easily in league play by a little bit of coordination between the two captains and the host facility. As stated before, there are instances where this just won't work due to facility/scheduling constraints, but a large portion of the time this is something that would benefit the league and people's level of satisfaction with their league experience.

There have been many instances where I have tested people's tolerance of playing no-ad scoring...it is very easy to convince people to go ahead and play ad-scoring, just ask them prior to the match. There are some lemmings out there that do say "the rules say that it is no-ad scoring...", yes I know but if you know there will be no one playing behind you, isn't it more fun to play a real match?

Part of my reason for this rant is the way I look at it my "total cost of ownership" to play tennis is continually rising: increased league costs, that bullsh*t USTA processing fee, gas costs are up, membership dues are up, babysitters are now part of the mix for me, and even ball costs seem to be rising.

The summary is: when I get a chance to play, I would like to maximize my ROI. I would like to play as much tennis as possible for a given opportunity to play.

In the end, HTA is a customer service organization that needs to be customer focused and respond to their customer base. The only way to let them know you want something to change is to let them know.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Forfeit Etiquette/ Protocol -- What do you think?

I had an experience this week with one of the captains from the league that I need to share.

I guess I am using this writeup as an attempt to remind people how their actions affect others. I realize that everyone had a family, job and then is a tennis player and sometimes tennis does not get the attention that it needs as you have to have a job to pay for tennis as none of us our playing for big checks on Sundays (unless you play for Freeman, he pays well...just kidding)

Communication/ Match arrangement:

The way I understand the "captain protocol" is that the visiting captain is supposed to contact the home captain to confirm/arrange stuff for the coming week. I really don't mind just shooting out a quick email about when/where etc if I am home or away.

Here is what happened this week:
1. Email sent on Monday about playing all 4 lines at the scheduled time.
2. Follow up email sent on Thursday. I realize not everyone has a crackberry or sits in front of a monitor all day (giving the benefit of the doubt).
3. Phone message on Friday at both numbers listed on HTA directory.
4. Follow up phone calls on Sunday AM to both numbers listed on HTA directory.

All through the week I did not get a response. I had to "plan for success" so I had my team ready to go and 8 people showing up to play.

There is no co-captain, so I did not have a second person to contact through all of this. I almost starting randomly contacting people on their roster to see if they were going to play, but I did have stuff to do this weekend and should not have to work this hard to set up a match.

I finally received a call 40 minutes prior to the match start time telling me to call him and when I did I was told that they would not be able to have any lines play this evening.

WTF? these were the first 3 words out of my mouth.

As a captain, I fully understand that there are times when your players leave you with little or no notice and you must forfeit a line, but at this point I was already in the car. At 520p, people are already en route to the courts to play the match.

I guess my frustration is not that all 4 lines did not play, but that people's time is VERY VALUABLE and with such little notice, people had already arranged for babysitters, have foregone other plans, etc to play tennis.

We ended up getting in a scrimmage, so we got to play, but this is just a frustrating situation that can be avoided in the future with a little pro-active communication.

My lessons learned are:
  1. Never assume that the guy on the other end of the email/phone is as organized as you are and if you have not received confirmation from them, assume the match is off.

My advice is:
  1. Have a co-captain. You have a plethora of people on your roster that can help out when you are out of contact of email and/or phone. I am sure one of them can help.
  2. Have an "auto-reply" feature on your email that says "Hey douchetard, I am dropping acid in the desert with Jim Morrison and don't expect to hear back from me until after my trip is over."
  3. Have a "out of office" feature on your VM that tells someone that your are gone and to not expect a call from you until your acid trip is over with.

I hope my message comes across clear and resonates with anyone that has ever been on the receiving end of this.

How could HTA change the regulations to shape people's behavior to avoid this?

  • Hit them in the wallet... I have read and heard of some leagues that make the team post a $100 "bond" that if they forfeit, the other team gets some or all of the bond...My question is, should HTA look into this? Just a thought. There a many logistical nightmares that could be induced if they did do this.
My questions to the community are:

Should I be as pissed as I am? I guess my frustration stems not from the fact that I was contacted so late, but that I had to hustle to get a full lineup anyways. People had to skip stuff with their family to come play, then they show up and there is no opponent!

For those who really want to know who I am referring to, it won't take a research scientist to figure out who I am talking about. I have never met this captain as his team is new to our flight and I am sure he is a really nice fellow, but it is not cool to do this to someone.

Who wants to see a monetary amount posted in some escrow account that if you never forfeit you never lose it, but if you forfeit your opponents get some of your bling for not showing up?

I will get off of my soap-box now. LMK what you think.