Defiant Justin Gimelstob tells ATP he will contest violence allegations

Simon Briggs
The Telegraph
Justin Gimelstob is to face a court in LA over an alleged assault - PA
Justin Gimelstob is to face a court in LA over an alleged assault - PA

Justin Gimelstob, the Association of Tennis Professionals board member who faces claims of violent behaviour dating back several years, on Friday began a frantic rearguard action to salvage his career with a letter to the ATP’s player council promising to fight the allegations published in The Daily Telegraph.

Gimelstob, 41, who has been seen as a potential successor to ATP president Chris Kermode, is due in a Los Angeles court later this month over an alleged assault last Hallowe’en on venture capitalist Randall Kaplan, 50.

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There is a strong body of opinion within the ATP that Gimelstob, a former grand slam doubles champion, should stand aside while he fights the allegations, but one source indicated they doubted he would do so, for fear it would weaken his position in court.

The Telegraph story provoked a strong response on social media, with commentators asking why the Tennis Channel and the ATP had continued to employ Gimelstob when publicly available court documents connected him with allegations of violence.

Gimelstob criticised The Telegraph in the letter to the 10-strong player council which holds his fate in its hands, claiming that the newspaper had published unsubstantiated allegations and had given him insufficient time to respond.

In fact, the Telegraph’s story was based on court documents that alleged violence perpetrated on three people. These were Gimelstob’s estranged wife Cary, and two of Cary’s friends: businessman Kris Thabit and Kaplan.

The story also focused on a fourth incident, based on testimony from three witnesses, when Gimelstob allegedly put his hand on the throat of an opponent at a paddle-tennis tournament in Los Angeles last year.

Although Gimelstob claimed  that he had not been given enough time by The Telegraph to respond. His lawyer, Shawn Holley, had been given an initial guideline of three hours to respond, after notification of the story was emailed to her at 7.52am LA time. But a statement by Holley which also objected to the lack of time, was sent almost seven hours later, at 14.44pm LA time, and was included in the second edition of the paper. Further attempts to contact the lawyer on Friday had been unsuccessful by the time of publication.

The ATP player council, which is headed by world No1 Novak Djokovic, can potentially force Gimelstob off the ATP board if six of its 10 members agree. It has already removed one players’ representative this month, after Roger Rasheed – a leading Australian coach who has worked with Lleyton Hewitt and Grigor Dimitrov – was ousted during the Paris Masters and replaced by David Egdes, a Tennis Channel executive, on an interim basis.

This mini-coup, which came after Rasheed upset the player council by approving a pay deal for the 2019 season only (the players wanted longer), has now made it unlikely that the six-man ATP board – made up of three tournament representatives and three player representatives – would agree to eject Gimelstob if he were to refuse to step down voluntarily.

ATP rules say that the other five board members would have to vote unanimously to remove one of their number, and Egdes is a long-term Gimelstob associate and colleague from the Tennis Channel.

Meanwhile, it is understood that Kaplan’s application for a temporary restraining order (TRO) will be heard in court on Monday. The Telegraph has seen a copy of the TRO application, on which Kaplan alleges: “At 6.20pm [on Hallowe’en] somebody attacked me from behind, knocked me to the ground, pinned me down and punched me in the face and head more than 50 times in front of many witnesses. During this assault, he continuously screamed, ‘I am going to ----ing kill you’ while continuing to punch my head and face.”

The court documents include a photograph of Gimelstob wearing a Top Gun pilot trick-or-treat costume, and other pictures showing contusions on Kaplan’s body, including his head and face.

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