Anyone who has ever watched Richard Williams anxiously watch his daughters at a tournament knows that tennis fathers represent an entirely different breed of athlete parent. But while they have a well-deserved reputation for their unrivaled intensity, they are by no means downright psychotic, and do generally adhere to the unspoken gentleman’s rules of tennis spectating. You know, the ones that dictate you refrain from physically attacking the person cheering for your daughter’s opponent.
It would appear that Mihai Barbat does not fall under this category of athlete father.
During a qualifying match at a $25,000 challenger in Versmold, Germany, Barbat brutally assaulted 27-year-old Dutch player Elise Tamaela as she cheered on compatriot Danielle Harmsen — the opponent of Barbat’s daughter, Karen.
The incident was first reported by German player Scarlett Werner, who was scheduled to play doubles with Tamaela. She wrote on her Facebook page (translated from German):
Incredibly, a father of a player has beaten my doubles partner and [she] is now in hospital. Whether we can compete in doubles tomorrow is in the stars. Hopefully she feeling better soon and this attack will be punished.
Elise’s brother, Sander Tamaela, confirmed the account and provided details of the extensive harm done to his sister:
As the brother of Elise I can confirm the story… Elise has been attacked by the father of Karen Barbat whule [sic] watching her game. He was calling her names from the start of the game (all kind of racist things I’m not willing to repeat). After a while Elise said something about it, he then knocked her out with a punch and elbows to here [sic] temple. She immediately lost consciousness for about five minutes… After a while she was taken to the police station to press charges, the father and daughter flee, police still looking for them. At the police station Elise started the vomit continiously, an ambulance was called to take here to the nearest hospital. She’s still on a intravenous drip with painkillers and needs to stay in the hospital till at least tomorrow morning (having a concussion and a bruised face)…
Sander went on to say via Twitter that police are still searching for both Mihai and Karen Barbat, who fled the scene together.
The match was discontinued following the incident, with Harmsen being awarded the win by default with the score at 4-2.
This isn’t the first time Mihai Barbat has attracted police attention at a tennis tournament for his unruly behavior. Last August, during qualifying matches at the e-Boks Open in Copenhagen, he was arrested for his drunken antics in the parking lot outside Farum Arena. Barbat had to be twice removed from the driver’s seat of his car to prevent him from driving while under the influence.