August 14, 2022

Open Court

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Dutch coach Max Wenders banned 12 years for match-fixing charges (updated)

Wenders with former student Demi Schuurs (right) and her former doubles partner Elise Mertens (centre)

Max Wenders, a 26-year-old Dutchman who has worked with several players on the WTA Tour, has been banned for 12 years from professional tennis after pleading guilty to a number of match-fixing charges.

The International Tennis Integrity Agency states in its announcement that Wenders “admitting multiple match fixing charges (and) destroying evidence requested by the ITIA (then the Tennis Integrity Unit) and failing to report a corrupt approach.”

When asked for comment from Open Court, Wenders issued this via email:

“As has been published by the ITIA, today, on 28 April 2021, a decision was rendered against me by an Anti-Corruption Hearing Officer, in respect to breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Programme.

I am extremely disappointed by the decision. I note, further, that the ITIA’s statement on it contains a number of inaccuracies, which I have asked it to correct.

Whilst I am unable to comment any further at this time, due to the ongoing nature of this matter, I wish to make clear, in particular, that I have not been sanctioned for fixing any matches and that the decision relates to events which took place between late 2018 and 2019.”

Most often, the people banned or suspended for match-fixing are relatively obscure players, and sometimes umpires. Coaches are more rare.

Wenders has been a hitting partner for Jelena Ostapenko, briefly worked with Anett Kontaveit and – most notably – coached doubles specialist Demi Schuurs.

Also notably, he is the former boyfriend of former world No. 4 Sofia Kenin.

Wenders with a victorious Schuurs and Ashleigh Barty after the pair won Rome in 2018 (Times of India/Max Wenders)

Wenders also worked with Russian Anastasiya Komardina, whose career high was No. 89 in doubles back in June, 2018, but who has played just two matches since Oct. 2020.

12 years and $12,000

There had been a few rumblings around the women’s tour more than two years ago that Wenders might be involved in something like this. But it takes time for it all to get through the system.

The hearing for the case was a long time ago – in April 2021.

“Publication of the sanction was delayed following submissions from Mr Wenders’ legal team, however AHO McLaren has now lifted that prohibition,” was the explanation in the press release.

Comprehensive list of breaches for Wenders

Section D1.d of the 2019 TACP: No Covered Person shall, directly or indirectly, contrive, attempt to contrive, agree to contrive, or conspire to contrive the outcome, or any other aspect, of any Event.”

And then, Section D.1.e of the 2018 TACP: “No Covered Person shall, directly or indirectly, facilitate any Player to not use his or her best efforts in any Event.”

Section D.2.b.ii of the 2019 TACP: “In the event any Player is approached by any person who offers or provides any type of money, benefit or Consideration to a Player to (i) influence the outcome or any other aspect of any Event, or (ii) provide Inside Information, it shall be the Player’s obligation to report such incident to the TIU as soon as possible.”Section F.2.b of the 2019 TACP: “All Covered Persons must cooperate fully with investigations conducted by the TIU including giving evidence at hearings, if requested.

After a Covered Person receives a TIU request for an initial interview or otherwise becomes aware of any TIU investigation involving the Covered Person, the Covered Person shall (i) preserve and not tamper with, damage, disable, destroy or otherwise alter any evidence (including any personal devices described in Section F.2.c.i.) or other information related to any Corruption Offense and (ii) not solicit, facilitate or advise any other person to fail to preserve, tamper with, damage, disable, destroy or otherwise alter any evidence or other information related to any Corruption Offense.”

Short career, long on drama

Kenin made the couple’s relationship public a year ago on Wenders’ 26th birthday (below), in the midst of all the domestic drama surrounding her split with father/coach Alex.

(Instagram)

Despite some of the social-media and clickbait site chatter out there, he was never her coach.

But they had been an on-and-off couple for years before that, even before Kenin won the Australian Open back in 2020. And we’re told it was … pretty fraught.

At one point, Wenders had been placed on the WTA’s “do-not-credential” list, which made it very difficult for him to earn a living.

But that relationship ended last year.

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