Nemiah Fletchman? No, we’d never really heard of him either. But this week he became another name in the tennis hall of shame.
Fletchman was apparently known as ‘Tennis-saurus’ when he was young, because of his height at an early age and because of his serve.
Timed at 120 mph, he blew opponents away at the courts near his his Moss Side, Manchester, home.
Moss Side is not renowned for tennis – more drugs and gang violence, in Britain’s northern city, but Nemiah flourished.
At 6ft 3in he towered over his opponents and attracted interest from potential backers. Former England soccer star Wayne Rooney (now playing in the US at DC United) was linked.
Rooney’s longtime agent Pauil Stretford eventually backed the kid to the tune of £100,000. At the time he was being picked out as the next British Wimbledon champion.
Likened to Argentinian star Juan Martin del Potro, Nemiah’s big serve was a match winner. Sadly, that career came to an end last week in a British court.
At Carlisle County Court in the north of England last week Nemiah Fletchman, now aged 19, was jailed for joining a drugs gang.
He and two others, arrested in March, admitted planning to flood the streets of Carlisle with heroin and crack cocaine.
They will spend the next three years in a young offenders’ institution.
“Your sporting career is in ruins and your family must be distraught,’” the judge told Fletchman as he was sentenced.
Fletchman was a foot soldier – a mule – in a drugs ring where customers ordered their ‘fix’ via mobile phone.
And in northern England, in socially poor areas, these gangs prey on young kids, offering get rich quick schemes for being their mules.
Fletcher is one of 11 kids, all brought up by single parent mum Elvereen. (dad had died of a heart problem some years earlier).
But tennis, seen by mum as the way out of poverty, soon took a back seat to gang videos and online groups. Plus, his lawyer argued, a head injury as a result of a car crash that ‘changed his personality’. From there, sadly, it was all downhill.
To pay off his debts, to continue playing tennis, he became a mule.
And when he offered big money to set up a new ring in the city of Carlisle, some 2 hours north of Manchester on the Scottish border, he foolishly, took it.
Fletchman’s role was a ‘bagman’ to collect and return to money to the main players.
But a crime is a crime – and the young tennis prodigy last week saw his world come crashing down around him.
From a contender to a common criminal – another name on the tennis corruption watch list.
SERENA Williams has admitted that she “absolutely” wishes she handled last fall’s US Open controversy differently.
Williams, 37, opened up about ‘that’ match in a new cover story for Business of Fashion, published in the US last week.
The US Open championship final in September between Williams and Naomi Osaka was marred by a verbal altercation between Williams and chair umpire Carlos Ramos.
The world watched in horror as Williams refused to let go and Ramos gave the 23-time Grand Slam champion three separate on-court violations.
Williams was penalised for illegal coaching, breaking her racket and verbal abuse, and later even suggested that the umpire’s actions were motivated by sexism.
During the interview she was asked if she regretted how she acted during the situation.
“That’s a really loaded question,” she replied.
“Do I feel regret for being penalised for something which has never happened in the history of tennis and I didn’t use one single curse word?”
“For me, being a perfectionist and being a professional, it would be impossible not to wish I didn’t handle a lot of situations differently, even that particular situation.
“So, absolutely. However, I have to tell myself, because of my daughter, that I should be able to have any emotion that any man can have.”
“It’s about teaching our new generation that everyone should be treated the same,” Williams said.
So little contrition then, for the abuse she threw at Ramos – only the use of her daughter to defend her stand.
Williams has used the gender card before to defend her actions – yet there was nothing about gender in the actions or the fact she violated the rules, was warned, repeatedly, and was then sanctioned.
“But I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things,” she said earlier this year in an interview. No evidence offered there.
But, two wrongs don’t make a right, and while it’s good to hear Serena now realises she should have handled the situation differently, please, stop playing the victim.
YOU might expect this of Nick Kyrgios or Stefanos Tsitsipas, but pulling a phone out of your pocket to document a line call?
At the ATP Challenger in Bordeaux in France, Tommy Robredo and Calvin Hemery played a rally that ended after Robredo challenged a ball that landed near his baseline.
The umpire walked over to inspect the mark and claimed that Hemery’s ball had been out.
Outraged, Hemery walked over to look at the mark himself, then used the changeover to grab his phone and snap a photo, welcoming the code violation from the umpire.
Clay retains the ball mark better than any other surface. For the record, Robredo won the match, 6-4, 6-3.
TALKING about Kyrgios – he’s not as bad as some make out.
The Aussie star helped save a stranded woman in Canberra last week, after her car broke down. A twitter post from a Simon Anderson gave details.
“She and a mate passed a woman whose car had died,” he wrote.
“The woman asked them to help her push it home, which they did. A car pulled up next to them and asked if they needed a hand.
“Despite being on the way home from training and then helping push a car down a Canberra street, he takes a pic with them and then gets back in the car and goes home. Nick Kyrgios: good guy.”
ANDY Murray has an official deadline of June 18 to apply for a wild card for this year’s Wimbledon Championships.
The All England Club has suggested it may give the two-time winner longer to decide whether he is able to compete.
Chairman Philip Brook said: “There have been no discussions with Andy yet. It’s too soon to know the answer to that one.
“Should he wish to apply, he would do so in the normal way. We have a scheduled meeting on June 18 ahead of the championships to decide on wild cards.
“We have a process which applies to all players.”
PS: love those new teeth!
THE list of participants in the men’s and women’s singles tournaments at Roland Garros 2019, which will be played from May 26 to June 9, has been revealed.
Of the 104 players entered directly into the main draw for the men’s singles, four have a protected ranking: Jo- Wilfried Tsonga, Jozef Kovalik, Janko Tipsarevic and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe.
Ten French players will go straight into the men’s singles main draw: Gael Monfils (No.19), Gilles Simon (No.26), Richard Gasquet (No.30), Lucas Pouille (No.31), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (No.34), Jeremy Chardy (No.41), Benoit Paire (No.43), Pierre-Hugues Herbert (No.49), Adrian Mannarino (No.58) and Hugo Humbert (No.64). The rest of the 128 places in the men’s singles draw will be filled by 16 qualifiers and 8 wildcards.
In the women’s singles, only one of the 108 players entered directly into the main draw has a protected ranking: Shelby Rogers of the US. Five French players will go straight into the main draw for the women’s singles: Caroline Garcia (No.21), Pauline Parmentier (No.53), Alize Cornet (No.55), Kristina Mladenovic (No.66) and Fiona Ferro (No.92).
The rest of the 128 places in the women’s singles draw will be filled by 12 qualifiers and 8 wildcards.
But who will emerge victorious, hometown French players apart?
Thiem and Nadal must be favourites in the men’s – but the women’s really is too close to call as the Williams domination comes to an end.
Halep, last year’s champion, has yet to find her real form; likewise Osaka. Kvitova and Pliskova are dangers and others, including the likes of young Aussie Ash Barty could be real threats.
Bring it on!