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Length of Season - USTA Adult 18 & Over

Wondering why the USTA Adult 18 & Over league season is 6-7 weeks?  Here you go!

Since 2016, the length of each local league season in Colorado has been 6-7 weeks.  While this length of season is the most common across the country, the fact that it is shorter than the 8-10 weeks we provided for the USTA Adult 18 & Over league in the past has caused concerns among some players.  The information below is intended to help players understand what has transpired to lead to these changes.

Some areas in the country offer much longer leagues.
One common comment we receive is that there are some areas in the country that offer a longer local league.  Generally speaking, there are very few similarities between these other states and Colorado, so it’s really impossible to make comparisons without understanding the full picture.  To compare Colorado to another area, we would need to find another area that has a league as large as our 18 & Over league (currently 2nd in the US), the same weather patterns we have in Colorado, and the same facility structure (i.e. permanent court time throughout the winter/spring).


We completely understand that players would like more matches in Colorado.  Many people send us suggestions – all of which we had thoroughly reviewed prior to making the change.  If there was a simple solution, we would have done it long ago.  While this explanation may not make some players feel better about the situation, we think it’s helpful for players to understand a little more about the big picture.

There are several reasons that we cannot currently provide a longer season for the USTA Adult 18 & Over league (Note: This is the only league that has been shortened.  All the rest of our leagues have been the same number of weeks for many years and have not been reduced).

One reason
At one point in time, years ago, we were able to overlap some of our evening leagues.  The growth that has occurred in all leagues throughout Colorado maxed out facilities to the point that we could no longer overlap these leagues

Another reason
Since the 18 & Over and 40 & Over leagues advance to Sectionals and Nationals, it is required for our leagues to be completed in time for the Sectional events.  We have deadlines imposed from USTA National that cannot be adjusted, by which all District and Sectional events have to be completed.  Our 40 & Over District Championships take place the last possible weekend for this event.  The 18 & Over league in Colorado is currently one of the largest in the entire country.

Another reason
The participation growth in both of these leagues also led to an increase in the size and court requirements to run Districts, which brought on the necessity of a flight playoff round.  We needed to shrink the size of the larger District Championships because they had reached a point of unsustainability.  We were needing nearly 120 courts over one weekend to run the 18 & Over event.

Planning Process

When we put together the league calendar each year, we start with the District dates for 40 & Over and work backwards.  Below are some important dates to understand for the 40 & Over league because they end up determining the range of dates available for the 18 & Over league.  These dates cannot be moved later because of the required deadline for Sectionals.

  • 40 & Over Sectionals – Sept 14-16 (last weekend allowed to run Sectionals for 40 & Over)
  • 40 & Over Districts – Aug 24-26 (last weekend allowed to run Districts for 40 & Over)
  • Publish schedules – Aug 17 (1 week notice for players)
  • Flight Playoffs – Aug 11 (score entry deadline Aug 13 in case of rainouts.  Allows only 4 days to finalize and publish District Schedules)
  • Publish Flight Playoff schedules Aug 6 (only 5-day notice for players)
  • League score entry deadline – July 30 (gives us 7 days to finalize standings and publish Flight Playoff schedules)
  • League runs from June 11 – July 26

Since facilities cannot accommodate an overlap of these two leagues, the 18 & Over league has to be done by June 7 (4 days before the start of 40 & Over).  From June 7, we work backwards to determine the start of the season.  If we were to go back to the 8-10 week league option, we would back up 10 weeks and the 18 & Over league would start the week of April 2.  This would be absolutely no problem for USTA Colorado, but facilities across the state have repeatedly let us know that they will not agree to starting earlier.  Facilities throughout the state run their permanent court time well beyond that date.  Throw in the challenging weather that we can get during April and starting that early doesn’t really look like a very viable option.

Financial
While many players place blame on USTA Colorado and make accusations that we have some kind of financial gain by shortening leagues, there is absolutely no truth behind that.  There is no possible way that a shorter season for the 18 & Over league can create a financial benefit for USTA Colorado

Summary of reasons
It really comes down to variables that are completely out of our control, as the primary reasons we cannot extend the 18 & Over league in Colorado:  Sectional dates, league participation growth, court availability at facilities, and Colorado's weather patterns.


We want happy players
Our volunteer committee and staff have looked at this situation from every possible angle to try to come up with a solution that would make players happy.  Since we only have the ability to change things that are under our direct control, any changes we could make would lead to far more complaints and a less enjoyable experience for players.  For example, at one point in time, we used Fridays to schedule additional weeks of matches.  After several years of that, and thousands of player complaints about Friday matches, our committee voted to stop using Fridays for the evening leagues.


No simple solution
Hopefully, this information helps players have a somewhat better understanding why we had to shorten the 18 & Over league, as well as point out that there really isn’t a simple solution to the issue.

 

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