Through 2012, USTA League had an 18 & over division and then a "Senior" division that was for those 50 & over. In 2013, this changed to add a 40 & over division and change the existing Senior division to 55 & over.
I occasionally hear discussion about participation in the 40 & over league, if it is really needed/different from the 18 & over, and if it was just a way for the USTA to charge members to play in another league and make more money. So looking at some stats is in order.
I've written about league participation before, but the quick summary is that in 2016 there were about 200K participants in 18 & over and 125K in 40 & over. That likely means a lot of 40+ folks play in 18+, but 18+ is certainly still serving a large group of folks.
18 & over participation:
40 & over participation:
One can't dispute the claim that the USTA is making more money by giving those over 40 two divisions to play in. But those players do get to play more right?
Some believe or have observed that when the split happened, the seasons for the leagues became a bit shorter, necessary in order to fit two separate seasons into the calendar. So, I went about looking at the number of team matches played in 2012 and then successive years after the split.
In the chart above, we see that teams on average played just over 9 regular season matches per season, and since then both the 18+ and 40+ leagues have dropped to just under 9 for the 18+ and closer to 8 for 40+.
Based on this, the data does support the observation that on average, teams do have a few fewer matches. For 18+, about one of every three teams played one match less than before the split, and 40+ has just played fewer from the start.
So it is correct that adding the 40+ league has not doubled the playing opportunity for those over 40, but it is pretty close as the matches per team has dropped only slightly.