By Michael T. Bello
Published Sep 29, 2015 at 12:00 PM ET; Updated Sep 29, 2015 at 8:25 PM ET

In late September, the College Squash Association updated a number of rules. This article is the second article in a series highlighting the 2015-16 rule changes.

College Squash AssociationHatfield, MA — During the offseason, the College Squash Association’s team and individual ranking process was reevaluated, and its ranking rules have been updated to reflect the enacted changes.

The CSA’s ranking rules have been adjusted slightly over the past few seasons; however, with the expansion and increased parity of teams, the ranking rules became challenging.

In early June, college coaches gathered at Yale for the CSA’s annual strategic review. During this two day meeting, multiple ranking systems were presented to and discussed by the coaches.

For team rankings, the season will have three phases:

  1. The preseason team rankings will be determined by a poll of varsity coaches;
  2. After the preseason rankings are published, the men’s and women’s ranking chairs and the Executive Administrator will rank the teams;
  3. Beginning with the ranking cycle that includes January 25th, a computerized ranking system will be enabled.

The computerized ranking system the CSA will utilize is the Elo ranking methodology. This methodology is a system for calculating the relative skill levels of teams in competitor-versus-competitor situations. A team with the most points is ranked highest.

The Elo ranking methodology was tested with data from the past few collegiate seasons. The rankings were very accurate, with only a few minor variations from the historical rankings. In the tests, the Elo system was not accurate until the ranking cycle that includes January 25th. Therefore, the CSA decided to begin using the Elo ranking method during the final few ranking cycles of the regular season.

Since the Elo ranking methodology is based on points, it is possible to have ties. The CSA implemented tie-breaking rules if this scenario occurs:

  • If the tied teams faced each other during the current season, the winner of the last meeting is placed ahead of the losing team
  • If the head-to-head tiebreaker does not determine a winner, the team with the victory over the highest ranked opponent not involved in the tie is deemed the winner of the tie

Until the ranking cycle immediately prior to the first Team Championship weekend, only varsity schools will be ranked. Prior to the first Team Championship weekend, club and emerging programs will be included in the computerized ranking system to determine seedings for the tournament.

To accurately and without subjectivity rank club and emerging programs, the Executive Committees decided to hold off on ranking these teams until the conclusion of the regular season. Since many club and emerging programs do not play enough matches to qualify for Team Championships until the final week of the regular season, this gives the computerized ranking system enough match data to correctly place club and emerging teams.

The CSA also formalized that any match involving a varsity team will be scored as a best of nine matches. For example, if varsity Team A has nine players and club Team B has 8 players, Team A automatically wins one match. For reporting purposes in US Squash’s Scoring System, the defaulted match is recorded as a “Double Default” since it was not played.

The team rankings will be published every other week during the November and December, and then weekly from January through Team Championships.

Individual rankings will be published periodically throughout the season. Individual rankings will also be based on the Elo ranking methodology. To assist with individual rankings, coaches are encouraged to log challenge match results into US Squash’s Scoring System. These challenge match results assist in making the overall individual rankings more accurate. The final individual rankings of the season will determine the seeds for the CSA’s Individual Championships.

Team and individual ranking appeals are also changing. Previously, coaches were granted the right to appeal team and individual rankings prior to each publication. These appeals were subjective and often without merit. Under the updated rules, with the exception of pre-championship team and individual rankings, coaches may not appeal rankings.

Coaches may only appeal prior to Team and Individual Championships for extraordinary circumstances, such as an error in a match result that prevented the Elo formula from evaluating the team or player properly. The CSA will not consider opinion-based appeals.

The CSA’s updated ranking rules should only further the growth of intercollegiate squash.

Please refer to the College Squash Association’s ranking rules for complete details on the changes.