The Crescent-News, August 21, 1981, Defiance, Ohio
Computer ratings continue to upset lady tennis stars
TORONTO - Chris Evert Lloyd, your basic 17.478 on the Womenís Tennis Association computer and Hana Mandlikova, a bitter 13.473, meet today in the quarterfinals of the Canadian Open Women Tennis Championships because the computer says they ought to.
Not because its fair.
Lloyd and Mandlikova both agreed Thursday that numerical injustice is being done under a computer ranking system that is so sophisticated the players, members of the tennis association and tournament directors fail to understand it.
Mandlikova, whose record the past year includes the Australian and French Open championships and finals at Wimbledon and the U S. Open, has managed to climb no farther than fifth in the world rankings. Even her arch-rivals feel that Mandlikova, and not 16-year-old Andrea Jaeger (14.420) of Chicago, deserves the worldís No. 2 ranking.
Officials at the Canadian Open, using the WTA as a guide, have seeded Mandlikova fifth this week to meet Evert in the quarterfinals.
"The seedings are wrong," said Evert, who trounced Kate Latham of Palo Alto, Calif., 6-3, 6-2 Thursday. "Our quarterfinal match will be more like a final. She should be at least No. 3 or No. 2 in the world."
Mandlikova does not mind playing Evert but she resents meeting her so early in the week.
Sensing that bluntness may be the only way to deal with computers, Mandlikova vowed that if the injustice is not corrected at the U.S. Open next week, "I will make a big mess."
"Everybody knows that I am No. 2 in the world," said the Czechoslovakian star after ousting Barbara Potter 7-5, 6-4.
Tracy Austin, second-seeded and third-ranked (14.068), who beat Regina Marsikova of Czechoslovakia 6-2, 6-2 in a late evening match to set up a quarterfinal against Pam Shriver, said the system is incapable of common sense and its logic is a secret understood by only a few computer experts.
"Nobody understands how it works," she said, "except the guys who work on it. My dad is a nuclear physicist and he sends things to Mars but he canít figure it out either."
John Beddington, the tournament director and Ana Leaird, a WTA public relations director, said Austin's view was essentially justified.
"We make up the seeds based on the WTA rankings," said Beddington. "I donít understand the system. Itís very complicated and I donít think many people can argue that Mandlikova is not the number 2 player in the world.Ē
"It would take a genuis to figure it (ratings system) out," said Leaird. "Basically the system is weighted, based on who you beat and in which round," she said, while admitting that actually it's more complicated than that.