Miami Herald’s Michelle Kaufman tells it like it is


Michelle Kaufman: Abusive parents an ugly part of junior tennis

You think the jerk parents yelling at the ref at your kid’s soccer games are bad? Try hanging around a high-level junior tennis tournament sometime.

The Orange Bowl International Championship is going on this week at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation. It is one of the most prestigious junior events in the world, and the tennis is absolutely fabulous. The moment you step out of your car in the parking lot, you can hear the force with which these teenagers are whacking the ball, and it is mind-blowing.

Equally mind-blowing is the behavior of some of the parents.

On Saturday during the qualifying rounds, Plantation police were called to the site to investigate whether a father had whacked his daughter on the head with a racket after she lost a match. According to the police report, the player who won the match heard her opponent cry out, and when she turned around, the girl was holding her head with a bleeding laceration over her left eye. The father was walking way holding a racket.

He denied hitting her, and suggested she was hurt by falling or running into a post. The girl said she did not know how she got hurt. None of the eyewitnesses actually saw the father hit the girl, so no charges were filed and the man and his daughter walked away, on to the next tournament, where the same thing might happen again.

In the warped world of junior tennis, it is considered perfectly normal for parents to quit their jobs and relocate their entire families to another state — or another country — to chase an elusive dream with their sons and daughters.


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