A mood of shock and disbelief swept through the locker-rooms at the Miami Open on Thursday as the players discovered that tennis coach Mark de Jong – a familiar face on the men’s tour – had been arrested in Amsterdam on suspicion of murder.
De Jong, 29, is a former journeyman player on the Challenger circuit who switched to coaching a couple of years ago, and has been working with the world No?59 Robin Haase since the end of 2014.
The two men had been in Miami as recently as Wednesday, before flying home from Crandon Park when Haase decided that a knee injury was too painful to allow him to compete.
But they were met by policemen on their arrival at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on Thursday morning.
De Jong was then arrested in connection with the murder of Koen Everink, 42, a millionaire businessman with a passion for tennis who has also been a regular on the tour for the last two or three years.
“Koen was very close to three Dutch players,” said Raemon Sluiter, the former world No?46 who now coaches the top Dutch woman Kiki Bertens.
“The ones he knew best were Igor Sijsling, Jesse Huta Galung and Robin Haase. I didn’t know Koen that well myself but I knew him to speak to, because, as players, we Dutchies spend a lot of time together when we are on the road.”
Everink’s body was discovered by his daughter at his home in Bilthoven, Utrecht, on March 4, just a few days before the Indian Wells event was due to begin earlier this month. He had been stabbed.
The tragedy was already well known to the small knot of Dutch players who travel around with the tour. Those around Haase and De Jong say that they arrived in Indian Wells in a state of shock, but there was no sense of secretiveness.
De Jong even told his tennis colleagues that he had been at the house in Bilthoven on the night of March 3 and had possibly been the last person to see Everink alive.
Even before his death, Everink was already best known in Holland for another violent incident – a fight with the former heavyweight kickboxing champion Badr Hari during a dance-music festival in Amsterdam, which left Everink with a shattered ankle and Hari facing a two-year prison sentence.
The fight with Hari happened in 2012, and Everink was left with long-term injuries. For a while, it seemed as if he would not even be able to walk again, but then he got back on his feet, and had even started playing a little gentle tennis again in recent months.
However, he had not worked consistently since the attack. A divorcee with one child, Everink sold his shares in his travel business – Eliza Was Here – in 2012, and then effectively gave up his career, preferring to spend much of his time with tennis players and at tennis tournaments.
According to reports in Holland, he drove a Porsche, which was taken away by police after the murder for forensic examination. In 2013, the Dutch Quote magazine estimated that he was worth €15?million (£11.8?million). “I have no words for it,” said Haase, in an interview with the same magazine earlier this month.
“He was going to start a business again, and would soon have been travelling with another tennis player. No, I thought he had found his peace so I had no indications that he was being threatened or anything like that.”
According to Sluiter, “We saw Robin and Mark here in Miami and they seemed OK, maybe a little bit down but then I thought that was because Robin was worried about his knee. This is a big shock for everyone.”