Tennis is really looking good these days. When you do a search for the tennis in the news, here’s what you get (or at least I got): A story about a sick, perverted female tennis coach in England who wears her student’s panties, and then of course gambling. Feel good stories they are not. So much for tennis being in a dead spot PR-wise this time of year I guess.
In regards to the first story, I will only say that that coach needs to be locked away forever. Simple as that.
On to the gambling issue. According to the AP the governing bodies of tennis have in their possession a document listing 150 “suspicious”, potentially fixed matches dating back to 2002. The 150 matches include some from Grand Slam tournaments, according to the report.
First, I have to say I’d love to see that list.
Second, 150 matches is a lot of matches. That’s more matches then the US Open men’s singles draw had this year (127). So imagine a whole Grand Slam singles draw with every match fixed and we still don’t get to 150.
Now I doubt that all 150 matches were indeed fixed, but then again I think it would be naïve to believe that there was absolutely no foul play in any of them either.
And Andy Murray seems certain foul play does exist, telling the BBC this week in Moscow, “everyone knows it goes on. … I’m not going to name names … I’ve just spoken to quite a lot of the players about that and there’s obviously something that needs to be addressed. I’m going to speak to the ATP in Madrid to discuss that.”
So again, it’s getting pretty clear that based on what some of the players (Nadal doubted Murray’s claims) have been saying, based on the evidence and based on the fact that tennis matches, unlike team sports, is an easier target for those with evil intentions, I think it’s fair to say match fixing does go on and has gone on. When, where and how much remains unclear.
And in some ways I don’t think people want to know just how prevalent the problem might be.
Imagine if it’s uncovered that several Slam finals have been fixed. That’s just the kind of news could bring the sport down. So how deep do you want to dig?
All this has lead to a Friday meeting of the ATP, ITF and WTA. Already the ATP has instituted a rule requiring players who are approached by punters to report the incident within 48 or suffer sanctions, but far, far more measures will be needed to properly grapple this issue.
Undercover sting operations? Surveillance? Wire tapping? Internet key-logging? Maybe that’s the future of tennis. Let’s hope not.
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