I have been thinking about this whole tanking thing alot lately in particular after witnessing the Branch beat downs of TBar, Canyon Creek and Brookhaven in flight A and then seeing our 9.0 mixed team get destroyed last weekend.
This weekend's match results for Branch vs Collin County though perfectly emphasize the problem with the system. Collin COunty have struggled to be competitive all season and Branch have rolled over the stronger teams 5-0 regularly but somehow Branch lost 2 lines against CC?
Obviously I am not good enough to be in the predicament they are in or even good enough to lose on purpose (that's when my frame shots will probably start going in). Every time I walk on the court I want to win. Generally it's hard work but that is my objective. I can't go out there and try to lose. In addition, my objective is to continually improve and become the best player that I can be. I doubt I will ever be good enough to be bumped up to 5.0 but that is my ultimate goal. I suspect that this is really the thought process of most players including those on the Branch team.
Why am I saying this? Because I don't understand why so many good players that played College tennis etc want to keep playing beneath themselves at 4.5 when they are obviously good enough to compete at 5.0 & some probably 5.5?
I theorize that there may be principle 2 reasons:
1. some people just want to win and think it's fun to beat up/ bully weaker players, but more likely,
2. there is a contradiction between the usta ratings initiatives in relation to the league play available. I think that this holds true for more players. I know some of the Branch players and they are nice guys. They are exceptionally good tennis players and are good enough to “work the system” because of the inherent flaws.
Until the dta and usta correct playing opportunities for stronger players, folks will continue to manipulate the system by managing their results. The usta have improved the self-rate process (well for those than answer the questions honestly) and they have recently bumped up a lot of players in the 2.5 to 4.5 range.
However, there are such limited playing opportunities for 5.0 and 5.5 players that they are basically encouraged by the usta to “tank” so they can have playing opportunities.
So what is the solution? I think Houston has some combo leagues allowing 5.0 and 5.5 players to play with 4.5s. I’m not sure about the mechanics or rules but perhaps this is an option.
The large majority of college tennis players do not go pro. Yet they are now required to self-rate at 5.5 if they had any kind of ranking. So in order to get to 5.0 they have to play tournaments and lose. Many couldn’t be bothered so they just don’t play. The usta and dta are losing out on the best tennis players participating in their leagues and tournaments and therefore losing revenue and robbing weaker players of the enjoyment of playing with and against and learning from these better players incompetitive match situations.
It would be nice if the DTA as the representative for a leading metropolitan area in the country took the lead and started initiating some leagues or ways to get the better players playing.
It is no fun getting your ass kicked in a competitive match and it surely can’t be fun for the branch players to be inflicting beat downs for 9 matches just so that they can eventually play a handful of difficult ones.