The score that re­ally mat­ters

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In his Sept. 3 Out­look es­say, “Why the most ef­fec­tive ten­nis player doesn’t al­ways win the match,” Gabriel Allen com­plained about the point-game-set scor­ing sys­tem in ten­nis by sug­gest­ing that a los­ing player wins more to­tal points in a match “more of­ten than you’d think.” He re­ported that in the past four ma­jor tour­na­ments this hap­pened in 87 sets and 31 matches.

But that is not very of­ten. In a ma­jor tour­na­ment with a 128-player draw, there are six rounds and 126 matches. If you mul­ti­ply by eight (for the men’s and women’s draws in the four ma­jors), that equals 1,008 matches — mean­ing that it oc­curred in only 3 per­cent of the matches. If you as­sume that the av­er­age num­ber of sets in men’s ma­jors is 3.5 and women’s is 2.3, the fig­ure for sets is just be­low 3 per­cent. This hardly “tilt [s] the field to fa­vor the in­fe­rior” nor pro­vides a ba­sis for chang­ing the scor­ing sys­tem, let alone mov­ing to “one ex­tended tiebreaker,” as Allen sug­gested.

I’m more sym­pa­thetic to his com­plaints about pres­i­den­tial elec­tions. We’ve had 58 of those, with five win­ners who lost the pop­u­lar vote (slightly less than 9 per­cent). So amend the Con­sti­tu­tion, but leave the ten­nis scor­ing sys­tem alone.

Jef­frey S. Lub­bers, Takoma Park

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