Today, I have the opportunity to bring together two themes for a rant. In honor of a former colleague who has wondered why I do Football Friday in the Fall but never Tennis Tuesday, he should note that today’s rant comes on a Tuesday and will be exclusively about tennis. In addition, I can continue the recent these of commenting on bad/criminal behavior by folks associated with the sports world. So, this could be labeled Tennis Tuesday brought to you by some Tennis Bad Boys.
Let me start with a report I read last week that six players have received bans from tennis after a court in Spain found them guilty of match-fixing and convicted them on criminal charges. The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) made this announcement and proclaimed that these players represented “one of the most significant infiltrations of tennis by organized crime that we have seen.”
The bans from tennis for these players range from 7 years to 22 years. Four of the six banned players were unranked but two held a minimal ranking:
- Marc Fornel Mestres was ranked as high as 236th in the world
- Jorge Marse Vidri was ranked as high as 562nd in the world.
Mestres received the 22-year ban; Vidri received a 15-year ban; three of the unranked players also received a 15-year ban and one of the unranked players received the 7-year ban. The banishment means that these six players cannot play in or even attend any “tennis event authorized or sanctioned by any international tennis governing body or national association for the length of their bans.” Moreover, none of the six are allowed to coach any other professional players. There are suspended prison sentences involved here also which could be enforced if any of these players runs afoul of the law into the future.
Based on remarks from senior officials in the ITIA, this investigation has been ongoing for about 5 years and more than one senior official referred to organized crime infiltrating the sport of tennis. That being the case, it must mean that in some parts of the world there is a relatively large betting handle on very minor tennis matches. It makes no sense to me that organized crime bosses are trying to fix matches involving unranked players for the fun of it, but it also makes little sense to me that lots of money could be wagered on such a tennis match making a so-called betting coup worth the time and effort. I guess I must admit that I am dead wrong about that second part…
Here is a link to the ITIA website with the details of the convictions here. These guys were very active – and somewhat creative – in their nefarious activities.
In other news about a “Tennis Bad Boy”, three-time Wimbledon champion, Boris Becker, has been sentenced to jail and has begun his incarceration. Becker was convicted in the UK of four counts based on the British Insolvency Act. Apparently, just before declaring bankruptcy about 5 years ago, Becker intentionally moved and attempted to hide “millions of pounds worth of assets to avoid playing them to his debtors.” Becker is 54 years old; he attempted to hide two Wimbledon Trophies as assets in his possession from the court. That indicates to me that Boris Becker is an unlikely MENSA candidate.
Becker had a very successful but tumultuous career. In one tournament, he got so angry at the umpire that he spat at the umpire; he battled addictions to sleeping pills and alcohol. At one point, he became a tabloid favorite when he supposedly had a tryst with a model in a broom closet at a London restaurant. He has been married three times and divorced twice leading one to assume that a lot of his wealth was lost in those divorce actions. He also has been convicted of tax evasion in Germany and now of trying to cheat the insolvency court.
Boris Becker led a “jet-set life”; he is now in a facility called HMP Wandsworth which is described as follows:
“… a crumbling, vermin-infested Victorian jail.”
HMP Wandsworth in in South West London and is described as one of the most overcrowded prisons in England. A report in January 2022 about conditions there paints a picture that is the antithesis of a “jet-set life”. Here is a link to that report.
Dwight Perry had a comment on the matter in the Seattle Times about a week ago:
“Tennis great Boris Becker was sentenced to 2½ years in an English prison for illicitly transferring large amounts of money and hiding assets after he was declared bankrupt.
“Sounds like Boris had quite a racket going.”
The last tennis item for today involves a decision by the folks who run Wimbledon to ban Russian players from this year’s tournament because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. That is virtue-signaling on steroids. None of the Russian tennis players who might have qualified for Wimbledon is part of the Russian War Machine; punishing Vladimir Putin and his cronies and punishing Russian military folks who are part of the actual invasion makes perfect sense; punishing Daniil Medvedev makes little sense.
Maybe they are enforcing that Wimbledon banishment because they cannot put Vladimir Putin in that ”crumbling, vermin-infested Victorian jail”…
Finally, let me close today with a joke about tennis that my father used to enjoy telling:
- Q: Why should you never fall in love with a tennis player?
- A: Because “love” means nothing to them…
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………