Sunday, August 3, 2014

Made In Houston

Sorry for the comparison, but I can’t be the only one that thinks Freeman resembles Elton John.   Yes, it was  7:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning, too early to be drunk.  Maybe a little hung over, but still. 

Like Elton, Freeman has been kicking out the hits to Dallas’s dismay.  Hits like:

Goodbye Nationals Road (Goodbye Yellow Brick Road)
Dallas In The Wind (Candle In The Wind)
The Lying King (The Lion King)
Don’t Let Sectionals Go Down on Me (Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me)
Tiny Poacher (Tiny Dancer)
Rocket Man  ….and I think it’s going to be a long, long time…
The One

The list could go on.  But you have to admit, year after year, he puts out the hits at 4.0 to keep Dallas from Sectionals.

So what is it about Freeman and Houston that breeds such success?

I think Murray nailed it back in April on his post Apocalypse Now.  It is hard to beat an adversary when you don't know from where he will be attacking.

While a legend, he is not machine and subject to err.  At least that was my thoughts from the first glance at things.  It was my understanding that Freeman was to take both 4.5 and 4.0 this weekend.  When I saw the loss to Amarillo, I initially thought he might be human and made a mistake with his line-ups.  But to another blogger's point, and upon further review of his roster, he just got beat, even with his core line up that made the trip.  I mean come on, besides a great George Strait strong, what is Amarillo known for??   To Amarillo’s credit, they made it all the way and took the title.  So much for a kink in Freeman's armor, except for just not having enough fire power this year at 4.5.  Unfortunately at 4.0, the competition was weaker than the depth of his entire squad, and he could afford to alternate players in flight play at will.  On Sunday, he unleashed his best, giving Dallas a tough go. 

Sometimes I think that when you have depth on a roster, it can actually be more of a curse than a blessing.  I think Dallas 4.5 has fallen to this trap.  Why?  Because with depth as a captain, you believe you have liberty to go with alternate line-ups on what you might think is your “not so tough” competition.  At the end of the day, you have your top 8, and putting in anything less can be detrimental.

Surprisingly, we saw this at 4.0 this weekend on the Dallas side with an unlikely move by  Somabut, discounting Corpus Christi and not going with their best 8.  Sunday morning was theirs for the taking, only needing to secure a few lines.  Bob is not one to make mistakes, but hate to say it, this weekend he did. 

While I know this thread is on 4.0 and Houston’s success,  the first point to make is roster size.  If I look at the king of Nationals, it is none other than Bender.  Bender sticks with his top 8 players, and may have a 9th and 10th.  That is it.  No tough decisions to make.  Play your best, all the time.  For him it has paid off.  More than you would like to acknowledge or know.   I know that is 3.5 and not 4.0 or 4.5, but I would think the principal would even be more so important at the higher levels.  Look at Amarillo's roster - 14 players.  The difference in winning and losing at the higher levels is a razor thin margin.  I would think it would be tough going with anything less than your top players 100% of the time.

At 4.0, Freeman had 18 on his roster, and 19 on his 4.5 roster.  He has had smaller rosters in the past, and a few years with larger ones.   At 4.5, Dallas had 26 on their roster, Fort Worth had 25, and Dallas Wild 22.  Some players are on more than one roster.  How can you be fully committed to a team when you are on multiple rosters in the same league?? 

While I am not a 4.5 nor know the vast majority of the 4.5 players, I have been privy to Dallas tennis for over the past 5 years, and have played on a few Tri-level teams (Sectionals twice, Nationals once) and have gotten to know a few of the players.  In glancing at these 3 rosters, I see 3-4 guys from each roster that should be playing together on the same team.   My question is, why has our 4.5 become so segmented?  Could that be one of our frailties? Houston's best come together.  Dallas's best seem to split up and compete against each other. 

Second, have guys that are fully committed – all the way to the end.  Whether it is regular league play, Tri-level or Combo, I can’t tell you how many times I hear a captain complain that his all-star can't make the trip to Sectionals or Nationals.  If your goal is Nats, only sign guys who have cleared their schedule for all dates, and are fully committed to being there.  It appears that every time we hear about Freeman having “this player” or “that player” they are there on the court playing, not MIA. 

Thirdly, you need players who respect each other’s game, and have checked their ego at the door and come to support each other.  Based on the comments and bashing I see on this blog, it seems Dallas falls short in this area as well.  Freeman also seems to attract all the top self-rates.  While a couple of singles ringers is definitely in the recipe for success, you also have to have players that are true teammates, on and off the court.   It is team tennis.  And teams win, not individual players.   

I’m not sure of the other ingredients for Freeman’s success, but he definitely has clearly established himself as a captain for players to come play for, and somehow manages to keep all of his players in check.  I do see he has a core group of players that have played for him multiple years, at both 4.0 and 4.5, and back and forth.  As I mentioned before, Dallas has that at 4.5, but has become segmented with the top players playing for different teams and different captains, depending on the year. 

From there, I have to revert to Murray’s most recent post, as I think he was spot on, especially at the 4.0 level.    So many times I see great players play on a team, only to get bumped up and lost at the next level.  As a captain, you constantly need to be identifying these guys and trying to get them corralled together.  Unfortunately, half of our post season 4.0 players are playing 4.5, and until they realize the brutal truth, Dallas 4.0 will suffer.

All that being said, I do have to acknowledge our Dallas teams, as they are always representing the City well at Sectionals, and typically making the Semis or Finals of every Sectional event.  It is just the refinement of a few small crucial things that separate us from Houston.  Freeman and his players have figured it out.  Can we find a way as a tennis community to do the same for our City ??

86 comments:

  1. In the finals, Freeman has 3 lines that have players that are self-rated and rating-appealed. I looked at their records and I would assume they have to be pretty close to DQ right? So what happens if enough lines DQ and it gives Wild Houston a 3-2 win in the finals?

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    1. With ROUSSOW constantly going after people he can't beat to get them moved up Dallas will never be a powerhouse. You don't have the jealousy and hatred there like here. Their "DTA" not as eager to get certain individuals they feel as a threat removed as well. Too much of that in Dallas to be competitive. 25-30 on a team w no ringers is a recipe for disaster and it showed yet again this weekend.

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  2. A DQ at this point on prevents you from playing at Nationals. Sectionals is in the books and is final.

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  3. Enjoyable read...
    For the record, in 4.5 Houston only brought their top 8.

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    1. You are right. Oh well, it at least it laid ground for an interesting theory. I guess Freeman has been flawless.

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  4. it also helps when you have a former A&M player on your team that is under 30 @ 4.0, I don;t give a damn that he was in a motorcycle accident previously, it was a joke that TTA let him play 4.0.

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    1. People would be justifiably complaining at 5.0.

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  5. BTW Amarillo also one Sectionals in 1999 over alot of the same players, surprising everyone again, with solid singles just like in 1999

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  6. Somabut really laid an egg at sectionals. That's the third time his questionable lineups have cost him at sectionals. Of course it didn't matter in the end. They would have been crushed by Wild Houston anyway.

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  7. Dallas tried to get it done with the same old guys at 4.5. They are good but they don't have the self rate ringers that are a cut above. And they're about 18 - 22. Those huge rosters aren't getting any younger.

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  8. By no means did Freeman underestimate Amarillo. I spoke with him briefly about 4.5 before the weekend and he knew they were very strong. It was my impression that he was more confident about 4.0 than he was about 4.5.

    I also think the "all the top players coming together" theory about Houston is a bit overblown here. There have been a couple of years in 4.5 where that was the case, but I don't think that's true in 4.5 right now, and it's definitely not true in 4.0, as the Unicorns and Chancellor's, to name just two, were on the same tier, talent-wise, as the Hurricanes.

    My own opinion is that Freeman has forced the Chancellor's and Unicorns captains to raise their game and find/cultivate better players. And they have risen to the challenge.

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    1. Nobody wants to hear it over again but when you have no Kelley or similar player that can guarantee his line you are going nowhere. Plain and simple.

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    2. I would agree with that. Houston has become a different environment at 4.0 and others have adapted to that environment. Dallas has been left in the stone age.

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    3. Be realistic, nobody does a better job of getting players bumped down at various facilities than Freeman. Don't hate the player, hate the game.

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    4. Agreed, no ringers and no titles. And when their is a ringer to threaten certain captains they are quickly hunted down. Houston does not eat their own. Certain individuals have ruined Dallas. Continue to support them then don't complain

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  9. Agree w 11:26 and :31. Until you let our best players play you will never have a shot. Yes, you will do well at city level but outside of that you will be a doormat. Kelley bashing on the blog is fun but unless you have 3 or 4 Kelley's you will fail. Dallas is a bunch of huge egos that have done nothing since 2010 ( coincidentally Kelley was in) and no regard for leaving the best players to play instead of protesting their OWN. We have a lot to learn , until then keep jumping on a spare roster of 30 plus people to be told "" This is the year!" and keep getting disappointed.

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  10. Play ft worth, play Dallas, play both. Same result. Big rosters, little success. Go get Kelley, build around him about 10 guys. You win. See Alan A track record and copy it. see Pickett trilevel and copy it. See Sisk combo and copy it. Example: Kelly plays for oak creek mixed in spring and they go to playoffs and sp doesn't. Kelly leaves there and plays summer 8.0 for SP and they go to playoffs and oak creek doesn't. Coincedence? Nope. Freeman can gather talent and get along, Dallas cannot. period. Now bash away.

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    1. There goes Kelly stroking himself again. I bet he has a sticky keyboard.

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    2. And sticky trophies as well!...

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  11. Freeman does not play by the rules. We do.

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    1. You mean he doesn't play by you're rules?

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  12. Yes, Dallas plays fair and square and we want everyone to enjoy themselves. Great way to spend a weekend, who cares about sectionals.

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  13. So what's the story on the Next Big Thing in USTA Texas tennis? This Rigney guy from FW has been telling anyone that will listen for two years that he's going to dominate at 4.0. I see his squad came in dead last at sectionals going an impressive 2-18. I'm sure Houston sat up and took notice.

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    1. His squad came in dead last bc his team tanked every match this past weekend to keep his players from being bumped up. Some people this past weekend were telling me that one of his players tanked by playing left handed one match and turned around and played right handed the next.

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    2. Holy crap! So the guys who couldn't win Fort Worth are all coming back? Now I'm really scared. What joke.

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    3. Why anyone plays for him is a mystery

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  14. David t wu is a stud at 4.5 as well. How is he 4.5

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  15. Dallas beat Houston this weekend, at women's 4.0. The three lines that Dallas won in the semis over Houston gave up a total of 4 GAMES. Maybe that captain should start a men's team. Some woman gave up three total games in semis and finals at #1 singles. May have been the only 4.0 in Dallas that Freeman could have used. And Dallas 4.5 women went 17-3 in their flight and 5-0 in the finals. Impressive.

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  16. The Fort worth league does not prepare anyone for a sectional run. That league is a joke. Dallas tennis is tougher but even then the competition is watered down. We are years away from winning anything in men's.

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    1. Does Freeman play???

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    2. Just the system.

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  17. Freeman was a 3.5 champ til Bender took over

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  18. Bender chose to win it all at 3.0 that year. Bender wins and loses at the level he chooses.

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  19. As long as that level is 3.0 or 3.5.

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  20. To HtownHacker - If Freeman actually "forced the Chancellors and Unicorns to raise their game", why in the heck to Freeman breeze through them in the finals?? Yeah - some tight matches I see - but looked more like score management than the Unicorns putting up a fight.

    Also - Unicorns play out of the same tennis center so sure there isn't some cross-breeding there?

    And the Chancellors? Looks like in regular season play the Hurricanes beat them 5-0 and then again 4-1. Not much of a fight.

    Go Hack off.

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    1. They've risen to at least one challenge. They're cheating more than ever. Freeman has top 50 D1 players, supers, players winning open tourneys and and college players, all at 4.0. Ask Hacker about the French guy that no showed for the Unicorns. Freeman would be proud.

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    2. Unicorns are about a step behind the Hurricanes. Check the final scores.

      Hurricanes took #2 doubles easily, and #1 doubles as well but it was much closer fought vs the former D1 + Open level European guy.

      Unicorns took line 3 doubles from a set down, and lost both singles in super tiebreakers. The Hurricanes singles #1 is some ringer kid who has to be at the equivalent level of an 18s Super if not close.

      No one is going to try and manage their score in the super tiebreaker finals.

      Unicorns didn't have arguably their best player and still came points within dethroning Freeman.

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  21. At this point, what difference does it make?

    The real question is how does he keep finding these guys? We could all go down to SMU and even if the NTRP gestapo would go all Puerto Rico and turn a blind eye, we couldn't get four players to play 4.0 or 4.5. Is he paying these guys?

    Geez, I understand a 4.5 playing 4.0 or 4.0 playing 3.5 to win but a top 50 National player playing 4.0? It isn't like he just finds one ridiculously out of level player but finds half a sectionals lineup every single year.

    Sadly, he still gets his ass handed to him at nationals. It will be interesting to atch how this current group of 'Canes does.

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    1. Actually he has 2 or 3 seriously out of level guys, then 2 or 3 more that are solid 4.5s. Finally, his filler guys are just a little better than ours, not a lot better. It allows him to start the match up 2-0 with two more likely wins.

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  22. He must be blowing them. Hence he reference to Elton John ??

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  23. Perhaps the "Bitch is Back"?

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  24. Freeman has scouts comparable to the spurs. New faces come in, same results every year. If he doesn't win, he's surely in the mix.

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    1. Now we are throwing San Antonio into it? I thought this was just a Houston - Dallas thing.

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    2. Wow. My iPhone actually worked!! When did Googke finally figure this out?? I've waited days before posting just to have access to a computer. Maybe this is why we see all the Kelly posts. He can post from anywhere.

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  25. Google Logan Powell tennis. See Amarillo 4.5 player who has ITF points. Why the USTA does nothing about this is ridiculous.

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  26. Bec He has never won nationals. They don't care about cities and sectionals. Winning national will cause them to take a look. I was told that by a USTA board member years ago. Same w Houston. They win but very seldom nationals.

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    1. Makes sense. If you can't make cities or sectionals, your gaze doesn't extend past dallas. The usta has to look at everyone.

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  27. Wow. Powell is easily a 5.5

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  28. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  29. So I had to get on the DTA website to find some information. But since I'm at work I was easily distracted and hit the Photos link. And what is the very first picture? Seth Grossman and company from Canyon Creek holding their 3.0 sectionals banner. This from the club that does more complaining than anyone else in town. Complete hypocrites.

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    1. It's ok if they do it

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    2. That's hilarious. Had to look it up. They lost in flight play to the team that finished 4th out of the 4 semi-finalists. So they went to 3.0 Nationals with guys that are now 4.0 & 4.5 and didn't even win their flight.

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    3. If you knew anything about Grossman, you'd know that he hadn't picked up a racquet in his life prior to playing that year he advanced to sectionals as a 3.0. A decent soccer player doesn't automatically make a 4.0 tennis player out of the gate. Some might say he still has a 3.0 swing, so just because he beat you with foot-speed quit your bitchin and throwing out some lame argument that he or anyone at CC is good enough to tank matches for a rating.

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    4. No self respecting 3.0 would claim those strokes.

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    5. Good point but he'll still whip your ass.

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    6. He was 0-2 at cities

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    7. So it sounds like Canyon Creek is back on the blog after their little nap. Must be mixed season somewhere.

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    8. What was his record at sectionals this year?

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    9. Probably the same as yours.

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  30. Freeman has an impressive network but don't kid yourself that Houston gets along. The top teams can't stand each other. The big difference with Dallas is they try to get better to win. We try to DQ our opponents so we don't have to get better.

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    1. I am a Houston player and the top 3 teams cannot stand each other. You are correct, we practice to get better to beat up on each other. Also, the Houston Tennis Association is a joke. Bunch of clueless idiots. And we also try to DQ each other. The Houston Tennis Blog is littered by haters and wannabes. See everyone next year :)

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    2. We don't have three top teams, just teams.

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    3. Bet the Dallas Tennis Assoc are a bigger group of clueless idiots.

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    5. I agree, I can't imagine the HTA is more clueless than the DTA... Simply not possible. If there is a wrong way, the DTA will do it.

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  31. That is a great point. Rather than try and get better to beat " unnamed person we won't mention" the best way is to get a petition together to remove opponent. Maybe practice w better players and improve, instead of add 50 to a roster and play dual cities.

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  32. Good post. Throw a cap on the picture of Elton and I can't tell the difference. Although your missing my favorite, Benny and the Jets.

    What I don't understand is how someone takes their own time outside of their careers, family, etc to focus so much time and energy on going to recruit and build a tennis team, year after year.

    I thought USTA league was supposed to be recreational and was for the average joes to go and play and compete. If good, you advance.

    This whole thing of sandbagging to get to lower levels and finding college players, etc to go and win has gotten a bit out of hand.

    Don't people have better things to do with their time then to go and spend all of their time to win recreational tennis? Defeats the whole purpose of the thing, IMO.

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    1. I'd say you're right for the most part. Probably 80% are playing recreationally. Maybe 20% think they're putting a team together to make a run at sectionals. Of those, only about 5% are really putting that team together. For the vast majority of players, you're right. They just don't post on this blog.

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    2. I doubt you are playing recreationally. The ones that are don't care about the ringers. They've been beaten before and will be again. They've usually been beaten often. It is the ones that perceive themselves as close that complain. In Houston, we get beat with teams we think are unbeatable.

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    3. What he meant to say was, I just want to play recreationally and still win, and go to the playoffs.

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  33. It's very easy, don't lie when being self rated. This will solve most of the issues, very few players tank but can get better or worse.

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  34. The 4.5 Amarillo team are cheats. I was excited to see a small town win the 4.5 sectionals, but then show the history of the blog for a future tour player. How can a guy who is plating a pro tournament play in a 4.5 event. FYI, their other singles guy has the same issue and david wu was an all American in div3. Google him. Bottom line is that they all just lie on the self rate forms and cheat.

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    1. I wonder why no one filed an appeal then?

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  35. Yep. Someone should.

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  36. Uh yeah and that's what happens every year. 2 or 3 ringers and average players good enough to win a line. Reporting an individual player does nothing. The whole system needs to be changed but my guess is this is here to stay. I doubt the usta has money to hire rating level police to ferret this out and self policing is obviously a pipe dream. Get used to it it is what it is

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  37. Ken Mcallister on USTA Texas board wrote an opinion piece in the July USTA Texas magazine. Proposal on the table to revamp USTA by 2020 so that it models ALTA (Atlanta rec league) and by doing so players will no longer feel the need to tank matches. Article is on USTA texas website under news & multimedia.

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  38. Most grievances are denied because the team filing them actually has nothing to go on

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  39. So I read another one of Ken's fabulous commentaries. I might be a bit jaded as I had mentioned before, he completely discounted a serious complaint that occurred to a minor glitch in the system I personally had brought to his attention. Nonetheless, this sounds nothing more to me than the USTA's answer to what is equivalent to TCD. For those of you unfamiliar, it is the Tennis Competitors of Dallas.

    They too have an obscure method of ranking teams. While they don't necessarily enforce a rating system, they do try to group teams into levels of competitive play.

    This is mainly a women's league, but the women (as they so craftfully can) engage the men to participate in the mixed leagues. Typically, these are in the Fall when nothing else is going on, and then men obliged to play.

    When I played, I was in one of the lower divisions, something like 3A or 3B?. Quite honestly, I cannot recall. Far from the top and about the 2nd or 3rd lowest level you could play. I just went to the website to research but seems there website is slower than the USTAs.

    Anyhow, our team was comprised mainly of 3.5 women and 3.5 men. We did have BMO on our roster (for those of you that remember) as our "Ringer" who was ranked 4.0. We played none other than CC ( and this is not meant to bash CC), and I was playing line 1 with a 3.5 girl whom I had never played with before. Basically, a 7.0 team.

    Across the net was none other than the CC's pro's wife, Erin Nolan (4.5) and a lefty 4.0 (can't recall the name but was bumped to 4.5 that year). Virtually a 9.0 team.

    If memory serves me correct, we managed to get 3-4 games per set against them. To me, that was an accomplishment. To my buddies I told, they said it sounded more like score management on their end. But this is TCD. No need for that. Plus this was CC - they don't manage their scores. :)

    Regardless, it did not feel competitive to me, and I think Ken's proposal for some "neighborhood" league that is a compilation of NTRP rated players would be a possible disaster.

    I think there is an answer to what is going on. It would just require a heck of a lot more involvement from the USTA, both Nationally and locally.

    Anyhow, those are my thoughts. Not sure of anyone else's.

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    1. There is no system that can't be gamed. Personally, I think there are two forms. The guys who follow the rules technically but bend them as far as possible. Then the people that don't follow the rules at all. Collectively we can stop most of the real cheating.

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    2. Rec leagues already exist. If the usta wants to go that direction they should just hang it up. You don't fund all those jobs and feed the beats that is the usta on a rec league.

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  40. What dude in their right mind would want to play mixed? All these people talking about going to nationals in mixed is absolutely hilarious. Only those looking for off court favors/hook ups would even think about it. Too funny!!!
    On another note, the best ways around the tanking is to
    1. not count the fall season like Houston and other major sections.
    2. Have the roaming tennis pros certify your rating like they used to. I think that if everyone paid $10 more per season that would cover the cost.
    It's a proven fact that people will not honestly self police themselves.

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    1. They got rid of the pros certifying levels because they all certified differently and certain pros would rate people in where you wanted them.

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    2. You don't self police yourself. You police the other guy.

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  41. 10:14 you just made my point

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    1. Because you aren't cheating. Not because you had a good point.

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  42. The issue is not being honest on the self rating forms. Just don't lie. The way to fix this is not let the cheating captain be a captain next season. It would stop then.

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