I was a head tennis coach for forty years for two different colleges. Twenty years at Atlantic Christian/Barton College, twenty at Elon University. Most of our teams were in the National Association of Intercollegiate Association (NAIA). Elon years included NCAA 11 then NCAA 1
In 1972 the NAIA voted on college tennis’s most volatile issue; international players were completely dominating college rosters. Enclosed are a small percentage of letters I have written in an attempt to support American Junior players and their families in pursuing college tennis scholarships. This issue over the years spread from the NAIA men’s rosters to the NCAA11, NCAA1, both men and women’s teams.
In 2017 my friend Chuck Kriese, former Clemson tennis coach, asked me to be a panelist at a meeting in Bradenton FL. to deal with this issue. (I thought) Coach Kriese has long been an ally on the international issue. There were ten people on the “panel” and I was asked to speak first (see notes). I did so attempting to gain support for tennis scholarships for Americans.
The second speaker startled me and others with his topic. Stripped down, it proposed to bring smaller satellite tournaments for college tennis in America. One panel member questioned where was the financing of these local tournaments coming from? Response: “we already have five million dollars in reserve.” Silence! Who is that sponsor was the question from the floor. I do not remember the name but another panelist replied “that is a gambling outfit in Europe isn’t it?” Yes was the answer. We all seemed a little stunned. And did not bring up the subject through the next several presentations.
As I exited the meeting Coach Kriese stopped me and asked “what do you think?” I was very frank with my friend –“Chuck this is an attempt to bring big time gambling to American College Tennis.” I was then no longer involved with this effort.
Concern for the game I reported this development to all involved in American tennis that I thought should be aware. Hardly anyone was aware of such a movement and I worried about overreacting and put my concern aside.
Still it nagged at me. How about the pro who revealed this scenario in the meeting: ”yes, one of my fifteen year old players asked me what to do about that man.” Why?
“He stopped me on the way to the dressing room and offered me $1500.00 to lose the second set”.
One statistic said the volume of betting on tennis was second only to soccer in Europe.
The light comes on! With the ability to electronically report the current score of a tennis match worldwide was now technologically available to anyone as the official punched in the score. Anybody, tennis knowledgeable or not could place a bet on anything in the game. Second serve a double fault? Total number of games played per match?
Light #2. Gamblers get a 4% vigorish on any bet. The more bets the more 4% flows to management.
Voila. Where can you find the most number of tennis matches played in the world? Europe satellites? Nope. College tennis in America, no where close. Men & women, all divisions. How about Old Dominion’s number four girl against number four from William & Mary?
Will NC’s number two guy win the next point? 4% !
Today’s paper features an article entitled “New Series Seeks A Improved Pathway To Pro’s for US Tennis”.
Did I attend the beginnings of this current attempt? Is this really a “pathway to gambling”?
ORACLE is now the ITA (College Tennis) leading sponsor. All gamblers need now is that score recorder in a college referee’s hands. Worth watching this all develop?
COMMENT BY LANE EVANS
This is very insightful coach. Well done! I hope this is not a trend that will increase. Gambling in tennis will paralyze our sport. There are too many issues in sports as a whole to have this muddle the mix. I have heard of the few regulars that show up at tour events and college matches with cell phones in hand ready to call the next bet. Some have been stopped but just like the drug traffic, there is another right behind them to take their place. High school, college and tour coaches need to unite in integrity. They need to draw their lines in the sand and let the tennis world know that they are not going to participate. Period and without discussion. Violators should be prosecuted for the fullest extent possible. No exceptions. No appeals. Put me in charge of it. I’ll take care of this quick, fast and in a hurry. Anything that tarnishes our game is off limits. We saw some fantastic performances at the Open over the past few weeks. Gambling has no place among that royalty. le
COMMENT BY DR. JOHN EATMAN
COMMENT BY DR. JOHN EATMAN
The item you sent out today is very interesting. While I have heard it from you before, it is in line with a friend of mine who said that gambling is also infecting college soccer. In fact, many of the “big” professional teams in Europe have gambling firms as sponsors.
However, most of the gambling issues (bribed players, referees, coaches) really affect the leagues where players are not paid (college soccer) or lower pro leagues (like the recent problem in El Salvador) where the player pay is very low.