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Opinion: Looking Forward to 2010 USTA Florida Adult Tennis League Season Despite Everybody "Getting Bumped"

April 12, 2010 07:00 PM

Last year's Altamonte Springs 4.5 senior women

By Noel Charette

After the 2009 tennis league season, USTA national decided to redefine how they rated and ultimately changed adult competitors' NTRP ratings. With a new evaluation system the USTA changed a larger amount of players ratings to try and accommodate a more competitive environment for all local teams to compete by. 

For example, a player showing a higher propensity to winning or a doubles team that just never seemed to lose finally got bumped up to the next level. This move was to combat the trend of the same teams from particular cities or clubs consistently competing for district, state and national championships.  

Many players seem disappointed by the move, based on the article by Bill Gray in the March 2010 issue of Tennis Magazine; however, in Sarasota and Bradenton the players are not upset but ready for the new challenge.

The captain's meeting for the upcoming season presented an outpouring of generosity and a willingness to accommodate all the players who were bumped. Based on communications I observed between the team's captains it seems clear to me that it's more important for our local clubs to give everyone who wants to play a place to play. Clubs want to be competitive but not at the expense of leaving the newly-bumped players off a team.

Our region, similar to the rest of the country had very large percentage of players who will be playing at a new level.  Men and women who were integral components of winning teams have suddenly become not so valuable, and although those individuals may not be as quintessential in guaranteeing wins, most captains and team members have recognized that those players are very valuable in terms of enriching the overall tennis experience for 2010. 

It looks like Region 5 is much more interested in gaining new friendships and playing with and against new players than looking to load up teams with potential sandbaggers and underrated players. Teams are loading up with people they want to play with for several seasons rather than putting together a group of players that never really get to know each other and subsequently never play together once the season ends. 

Clubs and teams are frowning on finding ringers and truly trying to advocate players playing at their true level. Captains agree that we don't cheat when we make line calls, so why would we have someone playing at the wrong level?

It is no different than maliciously making bad line calls.

Remember that the District or Regional champ is going to be from a club that you play all the time and will consist of players that you will eventually get to know very well. So instead of finding the next player that you can underrate why not focus on playing those people you meet from other clubs more often and build tennis relationships based on fair competition and mutual respect. Regardless of which team wins a trophy, if you enjoy tennis a couple of times a week, month, or year, then you already have achieved game, set, match!

Noel Charette plays out of Longwood Athletic Club in Sarasota and is a regional writer for the TennisLife-USTA Florida edition.






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