The Washington Tennis and Education Foundation's fight with the ATP Tour over the dates of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic is over. Tournament organizers had been battling the Tour since last winter, when they filed a federal lawsuit protesting the ATP's plan to move the tournament from mid-August to late July. But late yesterday the ATP announced it had reached a settlement with the WTEF, and that the new dates will stand.
"We're happy, the tournament weeks are exactly as we had scheduled them," ATP representative David Higdon said.
Legg Mason founder Donald Dell, who had been an advocate of the lawsuit, could not immediately be reached to comment. Higdon said the Washington tournament -- and an Indianapolis tournament that had joined the lawsuit -- also will undergo an official status change, bumping it down a tier in the tour's system. The change means the tournament will be required to provide less prize money; it also means the tournament could be less of a draw for elite players.
The date change may also be a deterrent. In 2003, the Legg Mason will be held the week of July 28, the same week as a tournament in Los Angeles and a week before two mandatory tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati. Players often prefer not to play three weeks in a row so close to the U.S. Open, which is held at the end of August.
-- Rachel Nichols