LONDON – Just a few days away before Wimbledon, the members of the ATP Tour Player Council have resolved – at least for the time being – the political issue of the vacant player representative spot on the ATP Tour board of directors.
But in a few months, they will have to revisit the entire process.
The council met Friday evening, following a general players’ meeting at the All-England Club.
And high on the agenda was a final determination on who its third player representative on the six-person ATP Tour board of directors would be. Longtime board member Justin Gimelstob stepped down last month, more than six months before his term officially expired.
At a Player Council meeting in Rome in May when the original first cut of finalists presented their cases, two candidates were tied in the end. But the council was deadlocked at 5-5 on whether to choose Weller Evans or Nicolas Lapentti.
And so the “non-decision” was put over to tonight’s meeting, as Evans and Nicolas Lapentti made final presentations Friday.
Evans, a longtime ATP Tour executive, has long been considered the front runner even if the Player Council couldn’t get to a majority. Lapentti, the multilingual businessman, former top-10 player, and former Ecuador Davis Cup captain and federation president undoubtedly would be the younger, more international choice.
He also is believed to favor Kermode as ATP CEO. And that appears to have complicated his cause considerably.
A reliable source tells Tennis.Life that the 10-member council remained deadlocked at 5-5 – just as in Rome.
The deadlock has been a recurring theme with Player Council decisions of late.
At the Australian Open last January, the council could not come to a majority vote on whether it believed outgoing ATP Tour CEO Chris Kermode should be renewed for another three-year term on the job.
And, just as with the Kermode case, the deadlock meant this decision had to be turned over to the council’s board representatives to make the final call.
Except … this time, unlike in the Kermode case, there are not three board members, but only two as the decision is about that vacant third spot.
Gimelstob, who had represented the Player Council on the ATP board for more than a decade, stood down before his term was to be up at the end of the year amid all of the publicity engendered by the assault accusations and the plea deal the 42-year-old American accepted in a Los Angeles court in late April.
Hence the vacancy.
Tennis.Life understands that only one of the two board representatives expressed support for Evans. In the end, a sort of compromise was reached in that Evans was selected to complete Gimelstob’s term.
So yes, after all this, the decision literally came down to one man’s vote.
Here’s the confirmation from the ATP about what we reported earlier this evening.
You would assume that the process would begin again for the three-year term that begins in 2020. But that also got a little complicated.
We were also reliable told Friday night that Robin Haase of the Netherlands – believed to be on the “pro-Kermode, non-Weller Evans” side of the 5-5 deadlock, resigned from the Player Council before the end of the meeting.
By our tennis calculations, that leaves the “anti-Kermode, pro-Weller Evans” faction with a slim 5-4 majority on the current council.
And it is the current council that will select a player to replace Haase on an interim basis.
So you could reasonably expect they will look for someone to bring it to 6-4, rather than repeat the “deadlock” experience for another year.
ATP political business might not be everyone’s cup of team. But it’s not dull, even if you’d think the players can’t wait to turn their attention to the reason they’re actually here in London in the first place.
The Times first reported Tuesday the L.A. County district attorney’s office has set aside the plea agreement, and moved to get the case to trial.
The motion will be heard on May 22.
Intention to ‘move the Court to take action’
In the filing, the People assert an intention “to move this Court to take action in the wake of post-sentencing developments in this case or, in the alternative, to calendar the matter for further proceedings.”
The basis for that are the statements Gimelstob made in the documents for a restraining order he filed against Randall Kaplan, the man he attacked on that Hallowe’en night. Gimelstob filed the request not long after the April 22 resolution of the case – on the same day, in fact.
The statement includes an affidavit from Gimelstob, executed under penalty of perjury.
Lucrecia Boado, the deputy district attorney pleading the case on behalf of Kaplan, said Gimelstob “denied the attack after his appearance before Kalra.”
The statements in the affidavit “appear to be in contravention of this Court’s admonishment during sentencing”. and “the People are hereby providing notice to this Court of conduct that appears to be contemptuous of this Court’s cautionary remarks during sentencing.”
Contrary to Kaplan’s recounting of the chance meeting between Gimelstob and his divorce lawyer, and Kaplan, at a restaurant six months prior to the Halloween attack, Gimelstob said it was Kaplan who threatened him – not the other way around.
Gimelstob wrote he said “hello”, after which Kaplan “immediately became aggressive and antagonistic”, and “began pointing his finger directly and closely (within an inch or so) of his face.” Gimelstob wrote that Kaplan then told him “in a very aggressive manner” that “I will put you in jail for the rest of your life.”
He also claims that his divorce lawyer received a text from Kaplan the following day. The alleged text mentioned that Kaplan “has substantially more money” than Gimelstob does. and that he could be “incredibly hurtful” to him if he “was called as a character witness in a custody trial.”
Kaplan’s version of events was quite the opposite. In his recounting, it was Gimelstob who claimed he was “going to f….g kick your ass and kill you.” And that Gimelstob added, “I’m rich. And she’s the best attorney, and she’ll get me off of anything.”
In response, the motion filed claims Gimelstob “appears to be asking the Court to consider prior incidents in support of an argument that he acted in self-defence in the commission of the offense to which he pled no contest to this Court.
“The above statements are the legal equivalent of denying responsibility. The defendant is providing a legal excuse for his actions and is proclaiming that he is not guilty because he acted in lawful self-defence.”
As Gimelstob details in the restraining order request, Gimelstob said the incident “was over within seconds” – in sharp contrast to Kaplan’s version, which described a beating that went on for three minutes.
“Kaplan appeared clearly angered and embarrassed that I had gotten the better of the fight. Thereafter, I am informed that Kaplan set out to misrepresent and obfuscate what had happened that evening, including making numerous misrepresentations about the brief altercation”.
Judge’s instructions clear
Judge Kalra was clear during the April 22 proceedings about what Gimelstob needed to do, in terms of talking about the case.
“Whatever was said before – they have the First Amendment right – but as you know, after a plea is entered, if a person goes on the courtroom steps and denies responsibility, the court can bring that person right back in and set aside that plea,” he said, according to the court transcript.
“If it’s brought to my attention by the people, if we go forward, that your client is denying responsibility, there are consequences,” he added.
It’s been fairly clear that Gimelstob has long wanted a chance to fully tell his side of the story.
The announcement from longtime ATP Tour board player representative Justin Gimelstob that he is stepping down from his duties, effective immediately, was the big news Wednesday morning.
But the next step is equally as important, if less headline-worthy.
And that is this: who will replace him?
The social-media outcry for the ATP Player Council to remove him has been loud. And some notable players and figures in the game have finally begun to make themselves heard, in the wake of the resolution of Gimelstob’s felony battery case April 22.
But the fact remains that the 42-year-old American was considered a highly effective advocate for the players during his 10 1/2-year tenure.
And in this key moment in the Tour’s history, with so many issues on the table, the search will be on to find someone who can be similarly effective – especially in dealing with the business side of the game.
Tennis.Life has obtained the list of candidates who have stepped forward to run for the now-vacant post, which comes with a stipend of about $100,000 U.S. Most of all, it comes with a great deal of responsibility as the ATP Tour looks to shape its future.
With Gimelstob’s withdrawal, there are … 15 names. It’s a big list.
The Player Council will have to whittle down the list to a more manageable five, before hearing presentations and making a decisional vote May 14 in Rome.
At first glance, none of them appear to match the package of competencies that Gimelstob brought to the table. But that’s the reality the Council has to deal with. And the chosen candidates will have every opportunity to make their case before the Player Council in Rome.
We outline them here, briefly, in alphabetical order.
Brandon Burke (JAM/CAN)
The 26-year-old, a former top-100 junior and Davis Cup player for Jamaica, played Ivy League tennis at Brown University and graduated with a B.A. in sociology.
In 2018, he graduated from law school at York University in North York, Ont. (the Rogers Cup facility is on the campus of that university) with a Doctor of law (J.D.) degree. While there, he was a member of the Entertainment and Sports Law Association.
Burke currently is articling at the Norton Rose Fulbright firm, which boasts of being one of the 10 largest in the world, by number of lawyers and revenue measures.
His father, Doug Burke, is a former top-200 Tour player and the president of the ACE tennis development centre in Burlington, Ont.
Weller Evans (USA)
Evans, now 64, is the longtime former ATP Tour manager and executive vice-president, player services. He retired in 2006 after 25 years. He also was an account executive at IMG in 1983-84
He served on the (then) Men’s Tennis Council from 1985-1989 as one of the three player representatives on a council that also included reps from the ITF and the tournaments.
Krulevitz earned a Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology from UCLA in 1974. He also played on the varsity team, and at one time was the No. 7 junior player in the U.S. and named to the junior Davis Cup team.
He played on Tour for a decade, reaching a career high of No. 70 in singles, and winning four titles in doubles.
After his career, he founded the Steve Krulevitz Tennis Program and in 2015, was named USPTA Mid-Atlantic High School coach of the year.
Luke Jensen (USA)
Jensen, 52, was the French Open men’s doubles champion in 1992 with brother Murphy.
He reached a career high of No. 168 in singles, but got to No. 6 in doubles, with 10 career titles.
Notably, he could serve with both arms and seriously messed with people. The brothers brought a whole new level of fun to the game.
He was the women’s head tennis coach at Syracuse University from 2006-2014. But he resigned early in the 2014 season, officially to “pursue other opportunities”.
Lapentti currently is involved in a lot of different areas. He has a television production company called Play On Media. And he is president of a family-owned real estate development outside Guayaquil called Bahia Muyoyo.
Peter Lawler (USA)
Lawler, who did his undergraduate degree at Yale and graduated from Georgetown law, had a long career in the agency business.
He was one of the founders of the original Advantage International agency in 1983, and was its managing director from 1983 to 2007.
The American has experience in communication for the WTA Tour and World Team Tennis.
He was a Tour manager on the ATP Tour in 2011-12.
Nunn also has worked on behalf of various players including Milos Raonic.
Trilingual, Nunn’s experiences range from partnership management, international PR, event management, media strategy, Content, event marketing, sponsor sales and talent management.
Nicolas Pereira (VEN)
Pereira was a standout junior player, winning the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open junior boys’ titles in 1988.
(He didn’t play the Australian Open that year).
As a pro, he didn’t quite reach those lofty heights. Pereira reached No. 74 in singles, with two titles, and also was a top-50 doubles player.
These days, he’s a host and television analyst for the Spanish arm of ESPN, and has experience in sports marketing and PR.
He speaks four languages, and has been a voting member of the Tennis Hall of Fame since 2015.
Pereira also has been an ATP Tour Alumni Committee member since 2016.
Michael Russell (USA)
The American, who turns 41 today, retired four years ago after a long career during which he was renowned as one of the hardest-working players on Tour.
After being named Rookie of the Year at the University of Miami, he turned pro in 1998.
In a career that began in 1997 and wrapped up in 2015, he reached a career high of No. 60.
While he was on Tour he also earned a degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix in 2012.
He has a tennis coaching business in Texas, and has worked with Ryan Harrison.
Vallverdu, a Venezuelan who has also worked with Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych, is currently the coach of Tour player Grigor Dimitrov.
He reached a career best No. 55 in the ITF rankings as a junior. He partnered up with the likes of Fabio Fognini and Pablo Andujar in doubles back then. But his most frequent partner was Murray, with whom he has maintained a long friendship.
The two first met at the Sánchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona when they were just 15.
The 33-year-old didn’t break into the top 700 on the ATP Tour during a career that spanned 2004-10. And he quickly turned to coaching.
But not before graduating from the University of Miami in 2009, with a BA in International Marketing and Finance.
Vallverdu was voted in as a coaches’ representative on the ATP Player Council in June, 2018.
Modesto (Tito) Vasquez (ARG)
Vasquez, from Argentina, is the nation’s former Davis Cup captain.
Spanish-born, he moved to Argentina with his family at a young age, after the Spanish Civil War.
From 1967-71, he played college tennis at UCLA. Among his teammates was the legendary Jimmy Connors.
The 70-year-old held the Davis Cup post from 1986-1988, and returned in 2008 to replace Alberto Mancini, who had resigned after Argentina lost to Spain in the final.
It had been a controversial decision, as Guillermo Vilas and Martin Jaite had also been candidates. He lasted two years.
Vasquez coached Victor Pecci when Pecci made the 1979 French Open final. And he not only was the Argentina Davis Cup captain, he did the same for Paraguay and Venezuela – which has to be some kind of record.
Here is the statement from Justin Gimelstob, who resigned from the ATP Tour’s board of directors Wednesday.
I am resigning effective immediately from the ATP Board of Directors.
It has been an honor and a privilege to hold this position for the past 11 years.
My job was to best represent the players, the ATP, and be a custodian of the sport. My choices and actions last Halloween night prohibit me from doing that at this time.
My role is designed to work on behalf of the players and the sport and it is clear that I have now become a significant burden and distraction to both. That is not something that could or should continue.
I’m heartbroken to walk away from something I love so much, but given the current climate I do not deserve to be in this position of influence.”
“For the better part of my life, tennis has been much more than my occupation, it has been my passion. I love the sport. It has given me so much personally and professionally, for which I am very grateful.
Along the way I have had some successes and failures, and undoubtedly have made my share of mistakes. I sincerely hope that I can and will be judged by my complete body of work throughout my career on and off the court; my passion, my energy, and my tireless work on behalf of my constituents and the game.
Giving up or conceding is not in my DNA, but it has become clear that I need to take a step back – for the good of the players, the game and for myself. Solely for that reason, I now more than ever appreciate that people in elected positions of influence must be held to the highest standard of conduct.
I breached that standard on a night last October. I have always taken responsibility for my role in the events that evening and will continue to do so.”
“While I can, have, and will continue to dispute the way that evening has been depicted, the material matter is that my judgment that evening compromised the sport and the people that entrusted me with the authority to represent them. I am deeply saddened and remorseful that my actions have caused the sport, players, my colleagues, friends and family such a distraction.
Actions have consequences and me stepping away from a role I cherished is one of them that I accept. It has been an honor to represent the players, who I believe are the greatest athletes in the world.
Thank you to the current Player Council and all the Player Council members throughout my 11 years as an ATP Board Member that have selflessly given their time to improve the sport.
I want to thank all of my fellow Board Members – it has been a pleasure working with you all. I want to thank our incredible ATP staff and team, the ATP Tournaments and the entire tennis family for letting me be part of your inner circle.”
(Later Wednesday, Tennis Channel announced that Gimelstob also had resigned his position there).
Statement from Tennis Channel on Gimelstob, confirming his exit:
“Justin has informed us that the leave of absence he began in November is ending with his resignation from Tennis Channel. We wish him well in this challenging time.”
I appreciate that in choosing this profession; whether on the court, in the television booth, or in the boardroom, critique and scrutiny come with the platform you are given.
I respect your profession, your opinions, and appreciate your desire to hold everyone accountable to a standard that matches the access and opportunity we are given as stewards of the sport.
I hope that I have the opportunity in the future to contribute to the sport that I love and believe I can be an asset to once again. However I also appreciate that opportunity needs to be earned.
I am committed to working on myself, dealing with the challenges in my personal life, and better equipping myself with the tools to handle the pain of losing my father and the ongoing litigation for equal custody of the most important thing in my life, my son.
Last night while processing all of this I fortunately was able to spend some time with someone I respect greatly. He comforted me with the belief that from periods of pain and suffering arise a great opportunity for personal growth.
We reflected on “failure” and how failure is not something to fear but rather to embrace and from which to learn. Specifically the theory of “falling forward.” I sincerely hope to be able to do exactly that, learn from my mistakes and become the best version of myself, not just for me but more importantly for my son.
“I’m stepping down because my job is to work on the sport’s behalf and the players’ behalf and in my situation, I’ve become too much of a distraction and a liability. I take responsibility for that, and I take responsibility for the mistakes I made Halloween night,” Gimelstob told Christopher Clarey of the Times.
The judge in Gimelstob’s case reduced the battery charge to a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to three years’ probation and 60 days of community labour. He also was ordered to undergo 52 weeks of anger management counselling, something he had already begun before the judge’s mandate.
According to the Times story, Gimelstob is in Spain, where he travelled to tell Player Council president Novak Djokovic in person that he was stepping down.
“I wanted to look Novak in the eye, and the two most important things I wanted to say were first, ‘thank you’ and second to apologize,” Gimelstob told the Times.
Members of the ATP Tour’s Player Council will have some weighty subject matter to discuss when they get together in Madrid a week or so from now.
And until then, it appears none of the council members will have much to say about the Justin Gimelstob situation – at least not publicly.
Tennis.Life contacted the majority of the members via email Wednesday morning.
By Friday afternoon, several had respectfully responded.
(We didn’t change any of the wording of the responses to ensure they were faithfully reported, taking into consideration English is not the first language of any of the players who replied).
“The council first decided to wait for the conclusion of the case. Now the next step would be to get together and decide what’s the best for the group.
“We haven’t had time to do that yet; we should be doing that in the week of Madrid because most of the players are going to be there,” said Brazil’s Bruno Soares, one of the top doubles players in the world.
“There will be (an) election during the week of Rome and we know how important this decision is,” he added.
Longtime Council member Yen-Hsun Lu, currently out with injury, responded along the same lines.
“For sure in the Player Council (we) will discuss it. So I won’t give too much comment about his case before group discussion,” Lu said.
The veteran from Taiwan also echoed Vasek Pospisil’s sentiments in noting that he, too, appreciated what Gimelstob does for the council.
Robin Haase of the Netherlands declined to comment specifically about the case. But he offered this about the process.
“As with every other topic the council has to talk to each other first before saying something to the press,” Haase wrote. “Besides that, I believe it is more important that the council, board, ATP staff and Justin himself know what my opinion is.”
In Barcelona this week, world No. 2 Rafael Nadal also would not offer his take on the resolution of the Gimelstob case, or what the Player Council should do.
“If I will be a part of the player council I will ask the rest of the players about what they want. The only thing I can do without being in the player council is if somebody ask me from the player council I will give them my personal opinion,” Nadal said, as reported by George Bellshaw in Metro.
And that personal opinion?
“I don’t want to tell you.,” he replied.
The social media reaction to Nadal’s “no comment” was not positive.
And in the absence of any early comment from other members of the council, the Canadian took the brunt of the criticism for declining to offer an opinion on Gimelstob’s actions but pointing out – as many have – that Gimelstob has done an impressive job on behalf of the players.
Bellshaw’s piece also included comments from both world No. 1 Novak Djokovic – the Player Council president – and vice-president Kevin Anderson that he gathered at the Australian Open earlier this year.
At that stage, the legal wheels had just begun to turn.
In London for the marathon, Amélie Mauresmo – a former WTA world No. 1, former coach of Andy Murray and current coach of Lucas Pouille – shared her thoughts.
Amelie Mauresmo (in London for the marathon) on Justin Gimelstob: "That's not the kind of behaviour you want to see from someone in our sport having a big role in any of the [governing bodies], the ATP, WTA or ITF. I don't think it is really appropriate for him to stay there."
The one candidate Dickson mentions by name is Dani Vallverdú, the Venezuelan who currently is the coach of Grigor Dimitrov. Prior to that, he worked with Tomas Berdych and his longtime friend Andy Murray.
Vallverdú currently is the coaches’ representative on the Player Council. So the members are more than familiar with him in that context.
As reported by Ben Rothenberg on Twitter Thursday, another retired American player was to declare his interest Friday.
Update: hearing that another American former player (with a much better playing career than Gimelstob's, fwiw) will be throwing his hat in the ring to challenge for the Americas seat on the ATP board tomorrow.
Tennis.Life understands that 58-year-old Tim Mayotte, a former world No. 7 and Olympic silver medalist who starred for Stanford University before going on to play the ATP Tour from 1978-1992, is considering a run.
Mayotte and Rothenberg’s “American former player” may be one and the same.
We’re also told that Austin Nunn, with experience on the WTA Tour, World Team Tennis and highly effective in a communications capacity with several Tour players including Milos Raonic, is considering a run as well.
So the Player Council meeting in Madrid should have numerous candidates to examine next week. They’ll have another week hash out whether the status quo, with all the consequences and baggage that come with it, is better than the available alternatives.
Hopefully they’ll all also be able to concentrate on their day jobs at the Foro Italico.
“Starting on or about March 11, 2019, and continuing until just a few days ago, Gimelstob’s counsel, Shawn Holley, received multiple calls from a person in Kaplan’s “inner circle.” … The individual said that it had been weighing on them and that they needed to report that Kaplan is obsessed with Gimelstob, and is seeking to destroy him.”
“Justin Gimelstob pled no contest to a misdemeanor battery charge to accept responsibility for his role in the events on Halloween and to move on with his professional life and focus on his family. Today, he filed a civil restraining order against Mr. Kaplan—who has been obsessed with Mr. Gimelstob for years and provoked the events of Halloween evening to carry out his repeated threats to destroy Mr. Gimelstob. Justin simply wants Mr. Kaplan to stay away from him and his family so he can move on.”
Here is a section of the addendum to the restraining order, in which a contrasting version of the meeting between the two men in a restaurant back in May is outlined, from Gimelstob’s point of view.
And here is the version contained in the text of Kaplan’s victim impact statement.
They might be describing two different incidents – only the cast members remain the same.
There are a lot more details in the filing, including a statement from Gimelstob’s highly regarded lawyer, Shawn Holley, about multiple conversations she has had with a person who is referred to as a member of Kaplan’s inner circle, who added other details to this … tale.
In the wake of the comments Justin Gimelstob has made over the last two days regarding the just-settled felony battery court case, Randall Kaplan issued the following statement through a spokesperson Wednesday.
Kaplan, 50, was the man Gimelstob attacked last Oct. 31, in the area of a kids’ Halloween party in their Brentwood, Calif. neighbourhood.
His victim impact statement, read during the final court proceeding Monday, described the attack and the physical fallout from it.
“Contrary to public statements from Mr. Gimelstob, in Monday’s court proceeding Judge Upinder Kalra called the Halloween assault ‘a violent, unprovoked attack in public in front of children’ – a decision that followed an investigation by the LAPD that included interviews of several witnesses to the attack,” the statement reads.
“Mr. Gimelstob’s contention that Mr. Kaplan provoked him by discussing the recent death of Mr. Gimelstob’s father is scurrilous and untruthful. Mr. Gimelstob ambushed Mr. Kaplan without warning from behind; only after the three-minute attack ended did Mr. Kaplan learn the identity of his attacker.
“And Mr. Kaplan did not know that Mr. Gimelstob’s father had died until the day following the attack, when a mutual friend informed Mr. Kaplan of this news.”
The statement follows the publication of an article on the TMZ website in which it was revealed that Gimelstob has filed a restraining order against Kaplan.
The judge in the felony battery case against the 42-year-old former player, who currently is a broadcaster on Tennis Channel and a player representative on the ATP Tour’s board of directors, reduced the charge to a misdemeanor.
He will get three years’ probation and perform community labor.
Gimelstob’s legal odyssey in the wake of a physical attack on 50-year-old former friend Randall Kaplan in the tony Brentwood area of Los Angeles on Oct. 31, 2018 ended Monday in a courtroom near the Los Angeles airport.
It was somewhat of a surprise in some quarters. Some had expected Gimelstob to plead “not guilty” to the charge of felony battery. If he had, the case would have proceeded to trial.
But Gimelstob pleaded nolo contendere to the charge at the re-arraignment hearing.
In some ways, “no contest” is the same as a “guilty” plea. But it is not technically an admission of guilt. And it allows the court to determine the punishment.
ATP issues statement
On Tuesday morning, the ATP issued the following statement in reaction to the conclusion of the case.
“Justin Gimelstob holds an elected position as one of the three Player Representatives on the ATP Board of Directors and under our organisation’s by-laws his position is therefore a matter of review for the ATP Player Council and/or the ATP Board. The decision was taken to let the judicial process run its courts before any judgement was made made on his future. So with that process complete this is now a subject for review by the Board and/or the Player Council,” the ATP wrote.
“As a related matter, the election for the role of the next Americas Player Representative on the ATP Board – the position currently held by Gimelstob – will take place as scheduled on Tuesday, May 14, in Rome.”
The board had already discussed Gimelstob’s future back in December, including the possibility of ousting him from his position on the board. But it didn’t get the votes, and therefore had to let the matter play out in the courts.
The All-England Lawn Tennis Club, which runs Wimbledon, also weighed in Tuesday.
Notably, after nearly 24 hours of mulling it over, the club removed certain luxury privileges. But the AELTC did not indicate it would prevent him from being credentialed to carry out any of his myriad tennis responsibilities.
Statement in from All England Club. "The AELTC can confirm that Justin Gimelstob has not been and will not be invited to participate in the Invitational events, or to attend the Royal Box at The Championships in 2019." He had previously played in the doubles every year since 2010
A statement from Gimelstob’s attorney, Michael Kump, said that Gimelstob had pleaded no contest “to move on with his professional life and focus on his family.”
Kump is a partner in the same firm as Shawn Holley, the noted celebrity attorney whose experience in damage control for high-profile clients is well documented – if you can afford her. Holley has navigated Gimelstob’s case through the balancing act of his wanting to clear his name, and the damage to his personal reputation caused by the airing of the facts of the case.
“As the couple recounted the attacks and Randy Kaplan alleged that Gimelstob had a history of violence, the tennis executive repeatedly shook his head “no.” The judge afterward criticized Gimelstob’s behavior, wondering how he would control himself outside court if he could not then,” the L.A. Times reported. “Gimelstob told the judge that there was “no place for physical violence in society” and that he accepted responsibility for his actions on Halloween.”
In addition to whatever restitution Gimelstob must make to Kaplan and his family, he may well find himself involved in a civil suit in the wake of the incident. Kaplan’s spokesman said there was no comment about that possibility, at this time.
For these purposes, a plea of “no contest” to a felony is essentially the same as a guilty plea in that is “admissible as an admission in a civil case growing out of the act on which the criminal prosecution is built.”, according to section 1016 (3) of the Penal Code.
We would expect Gimelstob also will file a civil suit, and in short order.
Tennis Channel return to be discussed
To the sport of tennis at large, Gimelstob’s legal issues are of interest largely in terms of the impact, if any, they will have on his various responsibilities in the game.
Gimelstob had worked as a commentator on the channel until last fall, when he took a hiatus.
“Justin asked us for a hiatus period from his Tennis Channel announcing duties, prior to any legal proceedings, in order to have time to deal with his personal situation,” Solomon told the times. “We, of course, acquiesced to his wishes. Together we agreed to meet whenever Justin was ready, presumably after due process has been served. We are here and ready to discuss the situation with Justin whenever appropriate, and will decide at that time.”
Gimelstob’s other big responsibility is as Player Council presentative on the ATP Tour board of directors. (His production company also produces content for the ATP Tour’s media arm).
Since all this began, the Player Council met to discuss its stand on the renewal of current ATP Tour CEO Chris Kermode’s contract for another three years.
After meeting at Indian Wells, they determined they were deadlocked. And so, they left their votes up to their representatives on the board. In addition to Gimelstob, those include British lawyer Alex Inglot and Tennis Channel vice-president David Egdes.
Egdes, who served as a player representative for a decade, was pressed into service in the interim, after the players voted to oust Roger Rasheed.
He subsequently was duly re-elected during the Indian Wells meetings.
The board needed at least two of them to vote for Kermode to stay. They didn’t get those votes, and Kermode will leave at the end of the year.
Support for Gimelstob
The Kermode decision has definitely split the ATP Tour players.
Novak Djokovic and Canadian Vasek Pospisil have been on the “leave Kermode” side.
Star players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka and others – who are not currently on the Player Council – have been public in their support of Kermode.
John Isner, another Player Council member, is a close friend of Gimelstob’s. He was coached by him on several occasions. And even with all of his legal woes, Gimelstob has publicly supported Isner at various tournaments in the U.S. over the last couple of months.
Meanwhile, Gimelstob’s term as a player representative is coming to expiration. He will be up for re-election when the Player Council meets in Rome next month.
Pospisil, a member of the Player Council since Wimbledon last year, issued this statement when reached Monday night by Tennis.Life.
”I would like to stay away from commenting on the matters of Justin’s personal life as I am ill-equipped to answer such questions, or make statements on that matter. I will say, however, that Justin has done an incredible job in his position as a player board representative,” Pospisil said.
“He has conducted himself with the utmost integrity during the nine months I have been on the council and has fought for the players’ rights.”
On Saturday, Pospisil clarified his comments to David Law of the BBC.
Asked Vasek Pospisil, ATP Player Council member, about his comment that the players would be fortunate to have Justin Gimelstob on the player board for another term.
He says his quotes were issued before he had read the full details of the case, and has given me the following:
It describes the judge’s opinion of the American’s reactions. And it includes his admonishments that if Gimelstob attempts to proclaim his innocence outside the judge’s courtroom, he might well find himself back in it. The Telegraph reporter tells how Gimelstob handed him copies of some of the material from Mrs. Kaplan’s Instagram account (which, if you saw it, does indeed paint quite a different virtual picture of the months following the attack).
On the flipside, the New York Times published an uneven piece that was part “insight’ into Gimelstob’s drive, part “sort of” mea culpa, part “he drove me to it”, and part braggadocio about how good a job Gimelstob does for the players he represents on the ATP Tour.
That he does do a good job for them is in little doubt. In addition to some strong personal relationships, it is at the core of the support he enjoys from influential members of the ATP Player Council.
It may well also be a reason that those on the other side of the odd, near-unworkable marriage that is the ATP are motivated to see him disappear.
The dynamic between the for-profit tournaments and the players who play a large role in generating those profits, and want a bigger share of them, is a tug of war. The marriage of convenience may have soldiered on in a relatively peaceful cease fire for a long time.
But there is so much money at stake these days.
The end of a golden era in men’s tennis is nearing, and revenues aren’t growing at quite the pace they had been. With Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in their 30s now and no guarantee the men’s game is Big Three recession-proof, the stakes are higher.
The question on the players’ side – as it generally is when it comes to Gimelstob, who admits he’s a polarizing figure – is whether the good that he does for them outweighs the bad caused by fallout from the American’s actions last Oct. 31.
A Player Council vote on May 14 in Rome, which will determine whether Gimelstob serves another three-year term as the Americas representative on the ATP Board, will go a long way towards answering that question.
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – On the courts at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, there were players scrambling for spots in the main draw at the BNP Paribas Open.
But in the boardrooms at a nearby luxury resort, there has been scrambling of a different sort going on.
And after what ATP Tour Player Council representative John Isner termed a “six-hour meeting” Tuesday night, it appears the council members still could not come to a majority decision about the future ATP CEO Chris Kermode.
Kermode was a compromise choice back when he first took the job back in Nov. 2013. It was six months after the tragic death of predecessor, Brad Drewitt, of Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The 54-year-old Brit will see his second three-year term as executive chairman and president end at the end of this season. But there are many on the Player Council – notably president Novak Djokovic – who want to see a change at the top.
The fallout from this has only made the dance between the players and the tournament owners even more delicate. The players want an increased share of revenue from the tournaments that, in broad terms, would not exist without them.
The tournaments, of course, want to rein in those demands. The tournament directors want to continue reaping the benefits of the events they have developed and expanded on the basis of those talents.
But from the outside, there doesn’t seem to be any wide-ranging movement to oust the current president. Nor has he appeared, from the outside, to make any significant missteps.
At the same time, most of the players, who are not involved in the internal politics of the game, would rather not stick their head into that particular oven to keep the distractions to a minimum.
Player Council still deadlocked
Ultimately, we’re told by a very well-informed source that even after many hours of debate, the council still couldn’t muster the majority required to make a unilateral decision not to renew Kermode for a third three-year term. Nor, obviously, could they muster a majority to renew his deal.
That was true after council meetings at the Australian Open in mid-January. And it appears none of the players have changed their stand since then.
And so, Tennis.Life has been told that they have on-passed that decision to their three representatives on the ATP Tour board of directors.
The ATP board meets on Thursday morning here in the desert. And so, three men will be charged with making a very difficult decision. And if two of them vote against Kermode, it is expected that he would be out at the end of the year when his contract expires.
Kermode cannot be the tiebreaker on a six-man council, or even vote, on the matter of his contract renewal. But he must get the majority of the votes from the three player representatives (i.e. two of the three).
Gimelstob, Egdes, Inglot to decide
At the Tuesday night meeting, Tennis Channel executive David Egdes, who was an interim board representative for the players’ side, was voted in permanently.
Edges had already been on the board for a decade. But the Player Council voted to oust longtime Lleyton Hewitt coach Roger Rasheed last November for failing to vote with their wishes during the increasingly contentious revenue-sharing battle. And then, Egdes returned.
Inglot is the brother of doubles player Dominic and a former executive at the sports data firm Sportsradar. He is the third player representative on the ATP Board, and joined the board less than a year ago.
But it is Gimelstob, who has been very much in the news lately as he defends a battery felony charge in court, who is the man on the hot seat.
There has often been talk that Gimelstob was on track to be the eventual successor to Kermode in the top ATP job. Obviously, his recent legal woes added several very large potholes to that road.
But even if the assumption is that the American would vote against Kermode’s remaining out of self-interest, the reality is that he would be following the wishes of a group on the player council he represents.
If Gimelstob voted to keep Kermode, he would be voting against the preference of some of those on the council who back him in his role on the board of directors. That group includes Djokovic. But it also reportedly includes fellow Americans Sam Querrey and John Isner and Canadian Vasek Pospisil. All those players, we’re told, want a change.
Nadal pro-Kermode, Federer neutral
Not surprisingly, during the media availability of the top players at the BNP Paribas Open Wednesday, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were asked to weigh in.
Federer was president of the council from 2008-2014.
Nadal, a former vice-president during Federer’s term, resigned in 2012 over what was said to be frustration over the lack of progress in changing the ranking system.
For his part, Federer said the lack of communication might have been more due to Nadal being away due to injury, and then the off-season. (Of course, these guys all have each other’s WhatsApps, but hey).
Federer said he intended to talk to Djokovic about this, back in January. It appears this has not yet occurred. If the three want to have a chat, they have until about 8 a.m. Thursday morning.
On Wednesday, Federer absolutely did not want to weigh in. And he said that regardless of how he felt about it, whatever happened would happen.
As it happens, Gimelstob is not only Isner’s former coach. He is also his very good friend. Gimelstob even made a trip to Delray Beach two weeks ago, just to support Isner at the ATP Tour event there.
So it puts Gimelstob in a bit of delicate position, both publicly and privately, with so many different forces in play.
Just to make this entire situation even more of a shining example of the mish-mash of conflicts of interest that define modern professional tennis, Egdes is a senior VP at Tennis Channel. And Gimelstob and Egdes are close.
(In the photo above from the Gimelstob arrest story, he is seen with Egdes, during his first term on the council, discussing matters on the members’ balcony at WImbledon).
Gimelstob has worked at the network the last several years as a commentator. But he is currently on a leave, as he tries to resolve his off-court legal situation.