June 12, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

Another small fry banned for match fixing

The Tennis Integrity Unit has announced another match-fixing conviction.

And it has offered up a fair amount of detail about what Junn Mitsuhashi did to get fined $50,000 US, and be banned for life.

Mitsuhashi, 27, had better career numbers than the average small fish. He reached a career high of No. 295 in singles in 2009, and No. 217 in doubles in 2010. As a top-100 ranked junior, he played doubles regularly with current Tour player Tatsuma Ito, and was a Junior Davis Cup teammate of Japanese superstar Kei Nishikori.

London-born, he represented Japan. But he never played a match at the ATP Tour level. And those rankings were many, many years ago. He earned just over $65,000 in his career. And he hasn’t played since 2014.

And so …

The ITF’s increased level of detail in this case likely is because another player involved already has been banned for life, in a case finalized in 2016. The fact that the player South African Joshua Chetty (right in above photo) approached then reported the situation to the TIU likely is what got the ball rolling.

On his Instagram account (private), Chetty (now 22) calls himself  “Ex-professional athlete, author, motivational speaker, business owner.”

Matsuhashi, who according to the TIU had previously coach Chetty, asked him to make a corrupt approach to a fellow competitor. It happened during the  ITF Futures F1 Tournament in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The financial inducement was $2,000 to underperform in a singles match, and $600 in a doubles match.

It’s likely that player was Austrian Lucas Miedler. Chetty played Miedler in the first round of both singles and doubles.

Miedler was 19 at the time (he turns 21 next month). He is currently ranked No. 347 in singles. And according to his ITF bio, is coached by former Thomas Muster manager Ronnie Leitgeb.

He was a top-15 junior and won the 2014 Australian Open junior doubles and made the final of the French Open junior doubles. He was losing in the junior Slams to players currently promoted as the Next-Gen (Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev, Thanasi Kokkinakis). So Miedler was a player with a future, with some solid backing.

Mitsuhashi probably was barking up the wrong tree there. But you can certainly see how this kind of offer would be hugely tempting at that level.

Match fixing does pay

Miedler reached the singles semis and won the doubles at that Futures event. His total prize money for the week was $960 in singles, and $215 in doubles. After deductions, Miedler netted … $740. He would have put a quick $2,600 in his pocket had he accepted – more than three times what he earned.

The next month, Mitsuhashi made a similar approach to a different player at a tournament in Lagos, Nigeria – directly, this time.

He also was found to have played 76 bets on tennis matches during that period.

Worse for Mitsuhashi (but probably good for any other players he may have had dealings with), he wouldn’t cooperate with the TIU’s investigation. 

That $50,000 fine is not far away from what he earned his entire pro career. Mitsuhashi may well have made a good living in his side gig, but you wonder if the TIU authorities realistically think they can collect.

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