England: Paul Hutchins, a former Davis Cup captain believes that fixing in tennis can never be completely eliminated due to the “human nature” of yielding to temptation, but it’s great that the condition will not ruin the game’s integrity and credibility.
Tennis is winding from the destruction caused thorough the investigative reports that coincided with the beginning of the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year which suggest the prevalence of rampant match-fixing, even in the Majors.
Hutchins, however, wasn’t distressed by its threat to the sport’s future.
“I don’t think it’s anything serious. You are talking about human nature aren’t you? So I don’t know if there’s anything to worry about it. I don’t think it’s as serious as people making it out to be”.
“I think it’s just stupid people you know benefiting from it. Very small section of people. I don’t think it will affect the top end of the game.”
Even Wimbledon wasn’t exempted from suspicion as the expose questioned the outcome of at least three dodgy matches at the All England Club, which were utilised by gambling syndicates in Russia and Italy to make big amounts by placing bets on scores of matches.
The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC), which controls the operations of Wimbledon, has strongly denied that it hosted a corrupt match.
Hutchins, director of “Road to Wimbledon” programmer, a tournament for Under-14 players, speak out that without supporting evidence, such question marks about matches shouldn’t be raised.
“Yeah. But I don’t know. There’s no proof, is it ?,” he questioned back when asked if Wimbledon’s pristine status, exemplified by its “all-white” players clothing rule, has been sullied.
More than 16 players, including a US Open champion and doubles winners were under suspicion for intentionally throwing away their matches. Eight players, including a top-50 ranker, took to the court at the Australian Open.
World No 1 Novak Djokovic and Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, admitted receiving fixing offers early in their careers but declined accepting them, as these allegationsgives an indirect approval.
Kokkinakis, 19, added it is common for young players to be propositioned ahead of big matches. Fixers usually tempt the players by social media and didn’t require to meet the the players personally.
Britsh star Andy Murray and Swiss legend Roger Federer claimed an elevated education system and identification of the offenders to stem the malpractice.
But Hutchins said he has faith in existing methods of the Tennis Integrity Unit(TIU) and won’t going to take any separate precautions.
“There is a TIU that would be upgraded. The chairman of Wimbledon is also the chairman of the group of people ATP, WTA, ITF. They have met and spoken about it and are going to improve things,” the right-hand player said confidently.
He expressed satisfaction in the work of the four governing bodies — Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), Grand Slam Board and International Tennis Federation (ITF), who are partners in the TIU, to stem the rot if a complete eradication isn’t feasible.
He said too much was being made of the findings of the reports that was blowing the issue. TIU’s long-lasting investigations didn’t found any confirming evidence of fixing.
TIU’s efforts had also resulted in 18 successful disciplinary cases including five players and one official who had been banned from the sport for life.
“My first reaction was that it was old news. Yeah I was aware of it that fixing happens in tennis, since 2008-09,” the 70-year-old, however, conceded.
“My second reaction was yeah it happens.”
“And it has brought (everyone) together to make the integrity unit better. And you always gonna have those people who are going to be stupid but I don’t think it is as serious as the most of the headlines.”(IANS)(image: cityofsunprairie.com)