Fear not. Whatever mistakes you may have made in life as a parent or coach, this guy’s got you beat.
Actually, John Tomic fits nicely into tennis’s fine tradition of belligerent, obsessive, control-freak helicopter parents.
Sometimes he yells at his son, world No. 50 Bernard Tomic. Sometimes he head-butts his son’s hitting partner, knocking him unconscious. Sometimes he gets himself banned from all ATP events.
And sometimes a hitting partner releases a two-part “diary” that spends a few thousand words of exhaustive detail about what a terror Bernard’s father and coach really is.
And Thomas Drouet, a Frenchman writing in English, has done just that. Here’s an account of John shooting his son with a BB gun for kicks and giggles:
“JOHN buys a BB gun at a supermarket because he says he wants to go hunting. I laugh and say, ‘Okay, let’s buy it.’ We go fishing, there is a big lake here and after practice we relax and fish then we just shoot dirt. Then we come back home and Bernard says, ‘Who is the biggest man now, we are going to shoot each other.’ He says it as a joke. John says I will do it, and he just pulls the gun and shoots him. He bleeds in his legs.”
And then there’s the time that John Tomic decided to punch his tennis player son:
“John again says that practice is over and tells me to put my rackets in the bag. Bernard tells me to stay but John again tells me practice is over. I’m standing there not sure what to do. John tells Bernard if he doesn’t want to listen then he will not play. Bernard comes to the net and John is screaming at him and Bernard answers back and tells him again to sit on the bench and not talk.”
“John is furious and then — pow! One punch. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, right there just in front of me. Bernard doesn’t say anything but has tears in his eyes. John walks away and rests two rackets on an angle against the wall then snaps his foot down on them breaking them. Crack, crack — breaks both rackets and tells Bernard that he doesn’t play tournaments now for three weeks and tells me to cancel all the flight tickets. Bernard sees this and then breaks his racket. My God, these people, it’s crazy.”
This all lead up to the event that pushed Drouet over the edge and into the realm of memoir literature — when John Tomic head-butted Drouet at a practice session one day.
The saddest part of this is that Bernard Tomic is super-talented. He was a great junior player, yet he hasn’t advanced beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam in the past two years.
You think his dad’s mentality might have something to do with his son’s personal and professional success?
Wait. Before you answer that, read this little bit of Drouet’s memoir and then see if your answer still holds water…
“I’m wondering what it’s all about but then he shows me a YouTube video of some man telling a story about how to become successful and self-improvement. It was like a motivational video. It was so honest a moment to see Bernard show me this. I tell Bernard he can do this but he has to work harder if he wants to be successful and at the top of his game. ‘It cannot just be on your talent,’ I say as I tell him about my experiences playing with Rafael Nadal who so impressed me with his professionalism and rigour. He says ‘yeah you are right from now on I am going to practice every day, every day.’ I am really happy. I think maybe we find the solution and he is evolving. After an hour and a half of really honest talk he suddenly says ‘Okay Thomas now we go and party together and drink a lot to cement and celebrate these good words and we can start again on a healthy basis.’ I tell him ‘no, now we go to the arms of Morpheus, celebrate in Morpheus’ arms,’ meaning we go to sleep.”
“Bernard just looks at me blankly and asks ‘who is Morpheus?’ He thinks it is a girl at the tournament.”