Thursday, October 28, 2010

Masters Discussion

The Texas Adult Masters tournament is approaching, with play set to begin on November 5th.

Several Houston area men's players have qualified in singles.

In the 4.0 division, the Houston area will be represented by Matt Drake and Kris Knutson, who have been placed in the same grouping. There are four players in each of two groups ("red" and "white") and the winner of each group advances to the finals.

In 4.5, half of the field comes from the Houston area. John Griffin and David Guy are in one bracket, and Herb Morton and Chris Sandblom are in the other.

In 5.0 play, Tim Green, Omon Dibua and Reggie Black all qualified, with Dibua and Black set to play in the round robin portion.

Doubles qualifiers in 4.0: John Shivers and Brian Dennis.

Doubles qualifiers in 4.5: David Hall, Peter Rothe, Red Benzon, David Guy, Brian Goldberg, Herb Morton and Robert Wood.

There is no 5.0 doubles event.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Upcoming LeMaster Husband Wife Tennis Tourney

Hey Folks,

Heads up for those who play more than just men's league and women's league.

The 53rd annual LeMaster Husband/Wife Tennis tourney is coming up Nov 19-21 at GTAC.

Please see link here for tournament website.

Tennslink registration is here, or printable mail in application is here.

You do not have to be a USTA member to play in this event, it is a non-sanctioned event that has levels from 3.0 to open.  So drag your spouse, tenniswife or tennishusband out to play - Cheryl and I will be checking marriage certificates!

There is a dinner on Friday with a cash bar. Play typically starts on Friday and runs through Sunday.

If you have any questions hit me up at

HTA Board

Harold Graham has asked that I post this on the blog. It would be nice if we got a lot of league representation on the board, I think.

Call for Nominations for the HTA Board of Directors - The HTA Board and its officers are asking for the submission of names of candidates for nomination to the HTA Board of Directors for the coming year, 2011. We are looking for those that are energetic and enthusiastic, bringing varied skills to the Association with a willingness to work to improve who we are and what we do as a community based, volunteer driven organization, reflecting our community as a whole. If you or someone you know would like to be considered for serving on the board, please email that person's name and contact information to by November 1, 2010. Should you have any questions, please direct them to Thank you.

Monday, October 11, 2010

YE09 Bump-Ups: How Did They Do?

At year-end 2009, there was lots of controversy as the USTA decided to bump some 30% of 3.5 players up to 4.0 (19% in Houston), and a 17% of 4.0s up to 4.5 (11% in Houston). The 4.5 ranks were relatively untouched (7% nationwide, 3% in Houston). People screamed about how they wouldn’t be “competitive” at their new level. I thought I’d look at the data to see how they actually fared, focusing on the USTA summer league as I believe it’s a more reliable dataset in terms of players playing to their capabilities.

First let’s look at the 4.5 level. There were 66 matches in the Summer USTA league where a YE09-bump-up-from-4.0 competed against a player who was already a 4.5 last year (or a doubles pair of bump-ups competed against a doubles pair of legacy 4.5s). The bump-ups won only 17% of those matches. There were also 30 matches in which current 4.0s chose to compete against current 4.5s, and the 4.0s’ winning percentage is very similar at 20%. The three-percentage-point difference I consider to be within the noise of the data.

What those figures suggest to me is that in the 4.5 division, neither an existing 4.0 nor a YE09-bump-up-from-4.0 is particularly competitive with a legacy 4.5. Everyone has his own definition of “competitive”, and I’m not sure I can even give you a number for mine, but I think it’s greater than 17-20%. I also find it interesting that the 4.0s who choose to compete against 4.5s are in general every bit as good as those poor souls who were bumped up.

Why did the 4.0-to-4.5 bump-ups fare so poorly against legacy 4.5s? One contributor has to be the fact that so few 4.5s were bumped up to 5.0 at YE09. This theory can be partially tested by looking at statistics from the 4.0 division (see below), where many of the best 4.0s did get moved up and out. I’d be interested to hear other theories.

Now let’s look at the 4.0 level. In the Summer USTA league there were 72 matches where a YE09-bump-up-from-3.5 competed against a legacy 4.0 (or a doubles pair of bump-ups competed against a doubles pair of legacy 4.0s). The bump-ups won a surprising (to me) 40% of those matches. There were 109 matches where current 3.5s chose to compete against current 4.0s, with the current 3.5 winning 22% of the time.

What these figures suggest to me is that, for YE09 promotions from 3.5 to 4.0, the USTA pretty much bumped up the right guys. A 40% winning percentage sure feels competitive to me. A 22% winning percentage does not, so I’d conclude that on average those 3.5s who didn’t get bumped up, shouldn’t have been bumped up. Of course there are individual exceptions in both directions.

So what does this all mean? Not a lot, really. The YE09 bump-up episode is all water under the bridge now, as evidenced by the fact that I no longer hear people talking (or moaning) about it much. But I found the numbers interesting nonetheless. We’ll see what kind of “corrections” occur when YE10 ratings are out.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Grunting Analysis

Interesting read on the effects of grunting and how it impacts tennis.

I think the cutting edge teams will start employing "effective grunt training sessions" for their players for next season to have that edge.

Here is an teaser from the article:

There is a growing chorus of critics who complain that many of the top-ranked professional tennis players who grunt when they hit the ball gain an unfair advantage because the sound of the grunt interferes with their opponent's game. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.

We explored this potential detrimental effect of grunting by presenting videos of a tennis player hitting a ball to either side of a tennis court; the shot either did, or did not, contain a brief sound that occurred at the same time as contact. The participants' task was to respond as quickly as possible, indicating whether the ball was being hit to the left- or right-side of the court. The results were unequivocal: The presence of an extraneous sound interfered with a participants' performance, making their responses both slower and less accurate.


The Men's 5.0 team from Fort Worth went 2-1 at Nationals last weekend, but didn't win enough lines to get out of pool play.

Men's 4.5 Nationals will start Friday. Rusty Branch's Dallas team is in a Flight with Norcal, Southwest and Pacific Northwest. They start out with Norcal, which is usually the strongest of those three sections.

The 4.0 team from Lubbock is in a tough pool with Middle States, Mid-Atlantic, Norcal and Midwest. Play in the 4.0 division begins on 10/22.

Ratings of local players are dependent on how well or poorly Texas players fare at Nationals. A rising tide lifts all boats, so to speak.