July 12, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

Nastja Kolar, Alexandra Riley banned from tennis for life

(Nastja Kolar, left and Alexandra Riley have been banned for life by the ITIA).

You see a fair amount of lower-level players on the men’s side of tennis getting caught for match-fixing. Not as many as likely DO it, but some.

But on Wednesday, the ITIA announced lifetime bans for two female players.

Slovenia’s Nastja Kolar and American Alexandra Riley were banned for life, and handed major fines following multiple breaches of the anti-corruption program.

The full decision can be read here.

Among the charges are matches they were caught for were matches in which the two “conspired” to fix match matches in which Riley participated. Also: “Facilitating” wagering on tennis matches through courtsiding. And betting on their own matches. And failure to report corruption committed by the other.

The players had been suspended since March 2023 pending the resolution of this, an announcement that sort of fell under the radar at the time.

The decision said that Kolar had committed 25 offenses, and Riley 15, between 2015 and 2020.

They included included “contriving aspects of matches, wagering, facilitating wagering, courtsiding, conspiracy, and failing to report corrupt approaches.”

Kolar, whose career earnings sit at $175,837, was fined $175,000 – so basically every penny she legitimately earned on court in her career. Riley was fined $50,000.

The anti-corruption hearing officer noted that the fine for Kolar is close to the $250,000 maximum penalty, and said they were for “corruption offenses of the highest order of severity over an extended period of time.”

He also wrote that “(Kolar) remains defiant in the face of my findings, continuing to maintain her innocence and showing a total lack of contrition or remorse”.

Most of the offences Riley was found to have committed were fixing individual points and games. Her counsel offered this defence: “The ITIA offered absolutely no factual evidence during the hearing as to any impact or effect Ms. Riley’s alleged offenses had ‘on the reputation and/or integrity of the sport.’ “

They weren’t buying it.

Those items were flagged by automated electronic alerts.

Kolar a former top junior

Kolar was the No. 4 junior in the world 13 years ago, at age 15.

She was in the junior crop that included Ons Jabeur, Genie Bouchard, Elina Svitolina, Monica Puig, Lauren Davis and many more. And she won 13 of her last 14 junior matches.

Now 28, she reached a career high singles ranking of No. 140 in Sept. 2015, and a career high doubles ranking of No. 178 in Nov. 2014.

She hasn’t played since Sept. 2022.

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Riley a father’s project

Riley, 32, was a product of her father’s coaching. She played just two junior matches – both at a now defunct grass-court junior event in her hometown of Philadelphia. She lost both.

Father Eric was the co-captain of the tennis team at Penn, which is an Ivy League school. The story linked to below says he coached such illustrious American players as Kathy Jordan, Lisa Raymond and Pam Shriver.

He was indeed Shriver’s last coach, before she retired.

He played a few Challengers and futures in the 1980s, earning just over $4,000 for his playing career.

They got some publicity in her hometown when she was coming on the circuit, in the Philadelphia Inquirer and also the local NBC station.

He appears to be, or have been, the tennis director at a club in Amagansett, NY, in the Hamptons, with his daughter listed as the “Tour Pro”. (The website last looks updated in 2021, though).

It lists him as having coached Raymond to her first pro singles title and her first Grand Slam doubles title.

And it also describes Riley, known as “Xan”, as “a fashion model (who) has twice had the privilege of walking the runway for NYC’s Fashion Week.”

Riley’s Instagram account seems to indicate she’s on some sort of photo shoot today – the day her tennis career ended.

She had been out on the ITF circuits since April of 2007 – all over the world, over 320 tournaments played. And Riley won back-to-back matches only a handful of times, in nearly 16 years.

The most recent was a WTA 125 in Colombia in early February of this year.

Her career earnings are not listed on the WTA site.

Riley’s best doubles ranking was No. 501 back in Dec. 2015, with No. 691 her highest ranking in singles, in March, 2015.

RIley and Kolar teamed up for doubles in more than 30 tournaments in 2017 and 2018.

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