From contender to criminal
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.
Written by Peter Rowe for Grandslamtennis.online. To read more visit grandslamtennis.online