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The Westlake 4.5 Germs

Addendum: The statement below, which says that I was certain there was one illegal player (Silver replacing Mike) but not certain about the other player is being declared "inconsistent" with our Captain's statement that said simply that we knew one player was illegal. We have to "dumb down" the statement to remove all doubt, they say. It's been insinuated that Bryan Leiker is sticking to his story that Mike played the match. Ha. It's funny now. Their fate is easy to predict. See character.

May 2008

The Westlake 4.5 men's team deliberately cheated in a USTA tennis match.

While this is not as important as, say, cheating on the maintenance of a wing of a passenger airplane, it has some niggling ramifications. One of which is that I have been asked by my Captain to write the details of the event. This takes time. Time is money. Money is beer. So I am a bit steamed and this report will reflect my mood. I will not choose my words carefully (time=money=beer). The result may sound over-the-top, as if I were the type of person who might set a house on fire to make toast. Therefore I will separate fiery opinion from facts. The facts will not be misleading (eg: such as if I were to go under a train trellis and then say I got run over by a train). Judge the opinions for yourself.

The event: Men's 4.5 USTA tennis
Oxnard vs. Westlake at OTC on May 4, 2008 at 10am.

The Westlake team captain is Bryan Leiker.
The Oxnard team captain is Juan Rosales.

David and I played the number one doubles position. We introduced ourselves to our opponents and they introduced themselves as "Chris" and "Mikey, but you can call me Mike". I wouldn't have recognized either of them had they jumped out of my breakfast cereal. However, David recognized "Mike" as a player named Silver Ramirez (from the mixed doubles league). Only then did I recognize him. Later we learned that nobody on Westlake's active roster was named "Chris" and we were never certain if the player whose name they entered on the scorecard (Jan Selander) was Chris. The illegal team, Chris and Silver, were "sacrificed" at the number one doubles position (on this day they played at a high 4.0 level).

When David recognized Silver and told him so, Silver didn't confirm nor deny his real name, he shrugged and said "it doesn't matter, you'll beat us easily anyway." Historical note: nobody has ever said that to me. I thought he was predicting that our team would beat their team easily. Since Silver didn't make a clear confession (and neither did his partner whom was overhearing all this) we were only 95% certain we were correct. Just like calling a ball near the sideline on your side, 95% certain your opponent has fouled is not enough. So we didn't stop the match and ask for I.D.s.

Then the match started. I can identify more players by their strokes and movement then by their faces. If I see a tennis player on the street and I don't remember his name I am always tempted to ask him to show me his service motion. After seeing Mike/Silver's strokes my certainty that Mike was Silver went up to 99%.

Then within a few minutes "1% Mike/ 99% Silver" made an unforced error and shouted at himself in a chastising tone: "Silver!" Now I was 100% certain. He repeated this 2-3 other times.

After the first time Silver referred to himself as Silver, I began referring to him as "Silver" (eg: "Nice shot, Silver") (note: I wasn't trying to make a point about his name. In every match I use my opponent's name to acknowledge good shots they make. Every match.) Silver always responded politely with "thank you."

Apparently all the members on the Westlake team were aware of the substitution. We played on the court nearest the clubhouse and when the other Westlake players finished and were watching us, they cheered "Let's go, Mike" etc. in comical voice tones, usually followed with laughing. They continued to do this even as both Silver and I referred to Silver by his given name. It was just a joke to them.

Did they all approve? Did Mike (the player whom Silver replaced) approve? Or was it assumed he didn't care?

Now for a few of the ramifications of their cheating:

1. It sets the bar low for what is "fair" in our league. They cheated to win a match. If there are degrees of slimy behavior, their move rates a high mark. They had other choices. 1. Not be slimy: Forfeit a match and play the number 3 doubles team for fun. 2. Be simply slimy: play the illegal players at the #3 doubles position. 3. They choose supremely slimy: Throw off all the teams and sacrifice the illegal players at the number 1 doubles.

2. It makes a mockery out of concern for what others feel, even if others don't object aloud. An example: When players of a USTA team I was on 12-14 years ago didn't play their best so that an opposing team could win the league title, two guys quit the team (although only a few others knew the real reason). Not everyone feels so nonchalant about cheating, even if they say nothing. Not everyone quits, of course. Some people without any character and a strong desire to "fit in" with others simply end up in therapy.

3. This cheating probably threw off the USTA ratings of all four players, especially since I know I have lost to Jan on several occasions. Then it throws off the ratings of the next people that those four play. This is not a big deal unless you get bumped up to a level at which you didn't want to play.

4. Why pay for a USTA membership if you know someone who has one?

The icing on this slime cake was that "Chris" was not a joy to play against. He got angry with his performance. He threw racquets, he hit a tennis ball hard in my direction when I was facing him 15 feet away, he hit a ball in frustration over the fence into the street, and walked off the court unannounced for 5 minutes (I never knew why). In retrospect this strikes me as odd. When I was growing up I lived in a town with suspected Mafia members. They were exemplary neighbors. If you kicked over their trash cans they would smile and wish you a pleasant day. The theory was that people who are doing something illegal work very hard to avoid drawing attention to themselves.

I hope cheating is unacceptable to the majority of the players in our league, even minor cheating. I will offer a suggestion of what should be done about it. We shouldn't forget these actions. The Westlake 4.5 team should be given the recognition they deserve. I hope someone names a germ after them.

If you send comments to they will be posted here.

Now, most importantly, someone owes me a beer.


Today's Date: 05/08/2008 7:58 pm EST

Scorecard for Match # 1000585220 in 2008 Adult Division - Ventura
Status: Reported by V - Westlake

    V - Oxnard
Team ID: *****
Vs. V - Westlake
Team ID: *****
Date Scheduled : 4/28/2008 Date Match Played : 5/4/2008 Entry Date: 5/8/2008
    Home Team   Visiting Team Best 2 of 3 Sets

#1 Singles V - Westlake is the winner. Alex Alfaro
Vs. Louis Yi Yang Lam 6-1
#2 Singles V - Westlake is the winner. Juan C. Rosales
Vs. Reed Grinsell 6-1
#1 Doubles V - Oxnard is the winner. Craig D. Burton
David Medina
Vs. Jan K. Selander
Michael W. Maselli
#2 Doubles V - Westlake is the winner. Thomas S. Kunz
David Luis Tovar
Vs. Bryan Leiker
Harry R. Ozar
#3 Doubles V - Westlake is the winner. Augie Castaneda
Jose M. Vazquez
Vs. John Gruber
Ron S. Bisciglia