Most of the players the Tennis Integrity Unit nabs for match-fixing offenses are more than obscure.
But on Friday, 24-year-old Russian Irina Khromacheva was suspended for three months, and fined $3,000, after being “found guilty of attempting to contrive the outcome of a first round qualifying match at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells” this year.
Khromacheva, who was facing fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva, lost the match 6-2, 6-3.
Two months of the suspension are suspended, contingent on Khromacheva committing “no further breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program”.
Khromacheva is currently ranked No. 274 in singles and No. 108 in doubles.
Her career high in singles was No. 89 back in 2017. In early April this year, she reached a career-best No. 41 in doubles after reaching the final of the Charleston Premier event with fellow Russian Veronika Kudermetova.
She hasn’t played singles since late April, or doubles since Charleston. According to her Instagram account, she has been battling mononucleosis.
The hearing was held in London Sept. 9.
“At the lowest end of the scale”
According to the press release, Khromacheva “had offered another player the opportunity to take her place in first round qualifying, in exchange for being paid the equivalent of the prize money she would have received if she had played the match.”
That amount, assuming a loss, was $3,395 US.
(You probably wouldn’t be shocked to hear that this sort of thing happens fairly regularly, on both tour, in singles and doubles. But this is the first time a player has been found guilty of it).
The offence was considered “more of a technical violation of the Program than a significant or substantive breach” and was judged to be at the “lowest end of the scale”.
Khromacheva can resume playing Oct. 18, assuming she’s healthy and ready again.
Former No. 1 junior
The lefty is a former No. 1 junior who had a standout career. She was playing top-level ITF junior tennis before her 14th birthday, and got to the Wimbledon junior doubles final with Elina Svitolina at 15 (they lost to Timea Babos and Sloane Stephens).
At 16, she won both singles and doubles at the two big tuneup events for the junior French Open, then reached the singles semifinals (losing to Monica Puig) and won the doubles with Maryna Zanevska.
A month later, she lost to Ashleigh Barty in the Wimbledon junior girls’ singles final, after beating Eugenie Bouchard in the quarters and Caroline Garcia in the semis. She and Demi Schuurs won the US Open girls’ doubles that year, and she won the French Open doubles with Daria Gavrilova in 2012.
All the ingredients were there for a good pro career but so far, it hasn’t quite panned out.