Tennis: Match-fixing, anyone? |

Tennis: Match-fixing, anyone?

Among the all-star roster of Important Sports Scandals that has assembled over the past six months ” Barry Bonds, Michael Vick, Marion Jones, to name a few ” let us not overlook the pretty little game of tennis.

Tennis, where underdogs and favorites play consistent with their roles more often than any other sport, where it’s routine to see the 300th-ranked player matched up against a top-10 opponent, and where nobody questions such a low-ranked player losing.

Tennis: where gamblers can win some really big money.

Not that the bettors don’t know this already. The sport’s dirty little secret is starting to leak across the pond, and you can bet it’ll get worse before it gets better.

Match-fixing rumors are swirling. Dollar numbers are beginning to come out. In one case, Belgian player Gilles Elseneer said he was offered more than $100,000 to lose a first-round match against Potito Starace at Wimbledon in 2005. As of Monday, Elseneer was ranked 688th and Starace was ranked 31st.

You can see how this could be difficult to detect. And perhaps even harder to prevent: If I’m a lower-tier player with little shot at winning anyway and I need some money, hundreds of thousands of dollars could be tough to pass up. …

Shifting to small-college football. Harvard beat Yale 37-6 on Saturday in a ballyhooed clash of Ivy League unbeatens that delivered the league title to Harvard ” and presumably made Yale’s 9-1 season feel like 5-5.

Two stats from that game caught my eye: Harvard cornerback Steven Williams picked off two passes to finish the 10-game season with 16 interceptions, an absurd number; and Yale’s star quarterback, Matt Polhemus, completed only two passes all day.

Down the East Coast a few hundred miles, I found an even more mind-blowing fact: There are only two Division 1 football teams in Delaware ” Delaware and Delaware State ” and this weekend, when they meet in the first round of the (formerly) 1-AA playoffs, will be the first time in history that they’ve played each other.

Did a little web research as to how they could’ve possibly gone 83 years before squaring off on the gridiron. The primary reason: Delaware State is a predominantly black school, and predominantly white Delaware’s administration has never made much effort to line up a meeting. …

Hard to believe such a big guy could escape the attention that goes with being the No. 2 quarterback in the NFL, but Ben Roethlisberger has. The Steelers’ signal caller has tossed 23 touchdowns and only eight INTs this year, good for a rating of 107.5 that is better than Favre, better than Romo, better than Manning. …

The Celtics’ perfect season was derailed by Orlando on Sunday, but Boston still has the best record in the NBA (8-1) and the Big Three experiment is blossoming like a four-leaf clover. Check out these numbers: Paul Pierce is scoring 22.7 points per game to go along with 4.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists, while Kevin Garnett has been a versatile force down low (20.8 ppg, 13.3 rpg, 4.3 apg and 2.3 steals per game) and Ray Allen (20.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.7 apg) has made 41 percent of his 3-pointers.

In all, Boston is the only team in the NBA shooting over 50 percent. …

Nice little story coming out of the NFL this year, where traditionally brash, whiny receivers Terrell Owens and Randy Moss are dominating with (gulp) class. Moss has caught 66 passes for an NFL-best 1,052 yards and 16 touchdowns, only slightly better than Owens’ 58 catches for 1,028 yards and 12 TDs. …

In parting, a peculiar press release was forwarded to me Monday morning. Seems 1995 Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George is house hunting in Breckenridge. The peculiar part was George’s supposed quote: “Breckenridge offers most of the amenities of Vail and Aspen,” he was quoted as saying, “but at a much more affordable price. Luxury was the missing element. Now with what Vail Resorts is building on Peak 7 and 8, that’s changing.”

Can’t you just imagine ol’ Eddie sitting in a local coffee shop, breaking down the Rocky Mountain real estate market like he’s been at it for decades?

” Breckenridge resident Devon O’Neil’s $0.02 column runs on Tuesdays. He can be reached at

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