Universal Tennis Analysis of Withdrawals in US Junior Tennis
Author: Justin Stocks-Smith, Universal Tennis
The rate at which players withdraw from matches is an important issue at all levels of the game, particularly in the juniors. Withdrawals are often related to injury/illness or schedule conflicts, but some are driven by a lack of motivation/incentives. Universal Tennis hopes that drawing attention to this issue will help minimize illegitimate withdrawals and promote level-based play worldwide.
Universal Tennis is working closely with the tennis community to find a broader solution without punishing players who withdraw for legitimate reasons. This includes displaying walkovers on the UTR player profile and encouraging tournament directors who use our tournament management system to report all withdrawals, especially those in the back draw. With this data, we are able to more accurately and comprehensively track withdrawals across different segments of the player population.
To better understand this issue, we looked at USTA junior match results from 1/1/2018 to 7/31/2018. Withdrawal information reported from several sources is assumed to be consistent and accurate. Not all sources report complete information, so conclusions are based on data in which that information is known. The primary questions are:
1. How widespread is the withdrawal issue for USTA juniors?
2. Is the withdrawal rate for USTA juniors increasing over time?
3. What is the distribution of withdrawals by UTR difference?
4. Are there confounding factors that influence withdrawal rates?
Some factors are found to be more correlated with withdrawals than others. The primary findings are:
1. Less than 5% of USTA juniors have three or more withdrawals in 2018.
2. The withdrawal rate for USTA juniors has been relatively constant in 2018. We are working with other parties to pull pre-2018 data to analyze this trend over a longer time period.
3. For a given match, the player with the lower UTR is just as likely to withdraw as the player with the higher UTR. A close matchup is just as likely to see a withdrawal as an uneven matchup.
4. There are confounding factors that influence withdrawal rates. For example, withdrawal rates are much higher for back draw vs. main draw.
In conclusion, withdrawals cannot easily be attributed to one specific factor. Universal Tennis is committed to working with the broader tennis community on a multi-pronged strategy to minimize illegitimate withdrawals.