Pat Rafter is renowned for his laconic sense of humour and laid-back personality. But a recent war of words with John Tomic has seen Mr. Rafter lash out at the money-for-play culture within elite sports.
John Tomic, the father of players Bernard and Sara, has been engaged in a dispute with Tennis Australia (TA), the organisation in which Mr. Rafter holds the player performance director position. As such, Mr. Rafter has opened up about the allegations that TA does not pay its players an adequate fee or stipend.
With a sense of regret, Mr. Rafter fronted the media to explain the situation. “We’ve talked amongst our team and we have decided we are now not going to support kids whose parents are vocally against everything we’re trying to do,” he said. “Either nasty people or people who go online on Twitter and stuff all the time and are just being abusive. So we’re not funding Sara, which is a bit of a shame for Sara because I think she’s a great girl and she has a very good rapport with a lot of TA staff and she always comes across as friendly. But unfortunately she is getting roped in because we are not going to tolerate John’s behaviour.”
That behaviour included vocal opposition to the organisation’s inadequate funding of his daughter, the nineteen year old up-and-comer Sara. In other comments, Mr. Tomic added that his son, star player Bernard, was playing the Davis Cup for a ‘pittance’.
In addressing this allegation, Mr. Rafter was quick to defend TA’s expenditure and track record of funding young players (not established and seeded mega-stars). “So, yeah, we do play God a little bit, but I think that’s the way it’s got to be done,” he explained. “It is a bit dictatorial, however it’s done within a team environment and I believe in it. I might be way off the mark and I’ll know in a couple of years, probably three or four years. It might be a disaster when I’m done.”
“But I think it’s our role to help a player get to the level that they can and then they’re sort of on their own. If we keep funding these top guys that can afford to fund themselves, that stops our ability to fund the lower ones.”
And after all, that’s what the organisation is all about.
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