Match-fixing, spot-fixing and ball tampering are terms usually associated with cricket. Imagine ‘fixing’ on a tennis court and that too in a junior-level tournament.
Pune’s tennis fraternity had a common talking point on Friday as a chair umpire was offered money by a player’s father. The incident, perhaps the first of its kind, took place at a girls’ U-16 final of the All India Junior Ranking Tennis at the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA) School Tennis court in Balewadi on Friday.
The sponsor of the event Nitin Kotwal has awarded Rs1,000 to the umpire for his act. The umpire Datta Dongre has filed a written complaint with the tournament supervisor Tanaya Gosavi and the tournament director Sunder Iyer in which he stated, “One of the parents had offered to pay Rs3,000 to give decisions in his daughter’s favour during a final match. This amount was increased to Rs5,000 when the match was stopped for a rain break.”
Taken aback, Dongre, who is also an assistant coach at the MSLTA school of tennis in Balewadi, immediately reported the matter. “The complaint will be forwarded to the MSLTA and a decision will be taken in the MSLTA council meeting,” said Iyer, who is also the association’s treasurer.
“Such episodes tarnish the game. We are grateful to the official (Datta Dongre) who brought this to our notice. We cannot disclose the names. We will do so after appropriate action is taken,” said Iyer.
He added, “It has never happened in the past three decades ever since I’ve been involved with the game in Maharashtra. It is shocking. We (MSLTA) are meeting next month and will take action. We will insist on a very harsh decision against the concerned parent and the player. Such an attitude is detrimental to the sport and totally against its principle. It is also unfair to players who sweat it out every point. We are grateful to Dongre for his honesty. We will appreciate his conduct at a bigger forum.”