Tomic takes place among the tennis bad dads‎

What is it about tennis players that brings out the mad in their dads?

BERNARD TOMIC’S FATHER may escape conviction of assault charges in Spain, but whatever the outcome he is assured of cementing his place in the club of infamous tennis parents.

Australian John Tomic denied a charge of assault on Monday following a brawl with his son’s practice partner Thomas Drouet  outside a hotel where players in the Madrid Masters were staying.

“I don’t feel guilty. I did not do anything wrong,” John Tomic told reporters, claiming he was acting in self-defence when he headbutted the player.

Drouet, from Monaco, appeared outside court in a neck brace with a white plaster over his nose.

Image: YouTube Screengrab

The court postponed a hearing until May 14 but whatever happens next, Tomic has already taken his place alongside other notorious tennis parents, including Jim Pierce, Damir Dokic and Stefano Capriati.

Tomic, a former taxi driver, had previously courted controversy when he once ordered his son off court in Perth, haranguing the umpire who he claimed was not penalising the opposing player.

At the 2010 Australian Open, he confronted officials who scheduled his son to play at night.

And last year, Bernard asked an umpire in Miami to throw his father out of the stadium for disruptive behaviour.

Tomic is not the sport’s only unruly parent, with Jim Pierce once shouting during a match for his daughter Mary to “kill the bitch”. The French star eventually took a restraining order out against him amid claims of assault.

But Damir Dokic, father of Jelena, took it to a new extreme. The Serbian first sprang to attention when he was ejected from the US Open in 2000 for abusing staff about the price of a salmon lunch.

He then alleged that the draw for the 2001 Australian Open had been rigged against his daughter.

And when Jelena switched allegiance to Australia, he claimed Australian authorities, “with the help of Croatia and the Vatican have brainwashed my daughter” and even threatened to “kill an Australian in revenge”.

Like Pierce, he was banned by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). In 2009, he was jailed for threatening to bomb the Australian ambassador to Belgrade with a hand grenade.

Grand Slam champion and former world number one Jennifer Capriati was another star with an overbearing parent. Father Stefano was accused of exploiting his daughter and using her as his personal meal ticket.

Capriati with her father and coach in 2004
Image: GREG BULL/AP/Press Association Images

The troubled American was driven so hard that she was in the world’s top 10 at 14 years old before eventually burning out and being accused of shoplifting and marijuana possession. In 2010, she survived a prescription drug overdose.

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Peter Graf, father of one of the greatest ever women’s players Steffi, is another that fits the bill.

Germany’s Graf, who won 22 Grand Slam singles titles, was closely controlled by her dad, who earned the nickname “Papa Merciless” for how hard he pushed her from a young age.

In 1997 he was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison for evading millions of dollars in tax on his daughter’s earnings.

France’s Aravane Rezai has also struggled with the problem, and she dumped her father Arsalan as coach in 2011 after a confrontation at the Australian Open. She later accused him of harassment and death threats.

While Tomic’s fate will not be known until next week, calls are mounting in Australia for his son Bernard, the nation’s top tennis player, to axe him as his coach, and for authorities to ban him from the game.

Additional reporting – Steven O’Rourke

(C) AFP, 2013

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