In this article I will share a difficult story of criminal sexual abuse towards a top female junior tennis player by a pedophile tennis coach as told to the International Christian Tennis Association by her parent…
I, Scott Paschal, will never forget meeting the dad. This man, so big and so seemingly strong, shaking as he spoke, tears welling up in his eyes.
The date was October 23, 2001. My small Christian tennis academy had journied to El Paso, Texas for an ITF Grade 5 junior tournament. Tennis matches were going on all around us as players fought to gain or improve on their world rankings.
As he spoke, I was standing with two of my academy students, Rachel Snelen, and her twin sister, Melody Snelen, both 18 years of age and listening intently, while standing next to this shaking man’s daughter.
As Stan settled down and began speaking more clearly, he began to describe what had happened, a bit more in detail.
His then 13 year old daughter, Dana, was a promising tennis player from Southern California. She was tops in her age group and division. Stan felt it would benefit Dana greatly to travel to Florida to attend one of the top tennis academies in the world.
Who wouldn’t? The academy promised Stan great things! Stronger hitting partners, strength training, safe housing, many top tournaments. It all sounded so good.
Stan and Dana spoke with the entire family, then they prayed for God’s guidance, and it was decided Dana would leave for Florida.
For 2 years Dana trained hard. Her tennis improved.
Yet, her dad began sensing something was not right.
During Christmas break in 2000, Dana came home with a cell phone on her hip. Stan didn’t purchase it for her. It usually rang late at night and Dana refused to explain who was calling or even how she got a cell phone to begin with. Back in 2000, remember, cell phones for 13 year olds weren’t the norm.
After much discussion, Stan then began asking his daughter why she has lost so much weight. Dana often refused to eat dinner with the family, then, the rare time she did, she would quietly walk to the bathroom. Dana’s mom and Stan become highly concerned.
As the new academy semester rolled around, Stan told Dana she was not going back to train there. Dana exploded.
Stan held his ground. After a few days, Stan took Dana’s cell phone and called the one number it held.
The person answering the phone was one of the top coaches in the world. Stan knew this famous tennis coach was married, and had a family of his own.
Stand slowly closed the phone. For two days the family searched for a psychologist who could see them on such short notice. Finally, they found one.
The next week unfolded a story of sexual abuse from a married man with children towards a 13 year old girl.
Stan contacted the police in Florida. The police began an investigation. Stan contacted the academy. The academy refused to investigate.
As time passed, the police did not have any DNA evidence to link Dana to the tennis coach. It had been to long since he had raped her, and then established a sexual relationship with her.
It had been to long for a semen sample to be found.
Dana, then 16 when I met her, had been sexually and mentally abused by one of the most famous tennis coaches at one of the most famous tennis academies in the world.
She was fighting bulimia and anorexia brought on by the abuse. Her tennis game was gone. Her once promising talent, destroyed by a pedophile tennis coach.
The situation took its toll. The mom divorced Stan. The entire situation had destroyed the family. Dad lost his job. He couldn’t work… he slid into a depression and felt like an utter failure.
In fact, Stan lost about everything he had. He simply couldn’t believe he placed his daughter in such a dangerous position. He blamed himself.
Because of that disgustingly perverted pedophile tennis coach, Dana lost her home… her family structure… her physical health… it’s all gone.
So, there I was in El Paso, Texas on a windy day, listening. Stan hugging me and crying. Dana watching, the tears no longer able to flow.
I could do nothing for their situation, except pray and be a friend. The past is the past and I wanted to help facilitate the future for them.
I could never understand their pain, but God can and what Satan uses to attempt to destroy us, God can use to grow us for His glory.
I know who this tennis coach is. I'm watching him intently.
Honestly, I have had days when I actually hated the pedophile. I work hard to be a good Christian when I see this loser.
He is still coaching young, teen girls. Parents still send their kids to that academy, unknowing of Dana’s story. Dana and her father have simply been called “a disgruntled former student and parent.”
Though Dana can describe every inch of that man’s body, though Dana can thoroughly tell intimate details of how that tennis coach dislikes his wife, though the cell phone was in the pedophile’s name… though a young 13 year old girl has lost her family, though Dana’s body was destroyed by eating disorders, though Dana’s dad is battling depression…
Though all of this has happened, God is still in control.
Yes, sin attacked Dana’s family. Satan gained a stronghold. He did. That’s a fact.
Yet, now God has an opportunity to rebuild. Much like the tragic events of 911 hurt our country, God has used that tragedy for His glory as a spiritual awakening began nationwide.
The Bible says… “Our love must not be a thing of words and fine talk. It must be a thing of action and sincerity (1 John 3:18).”
Through any difficult circumstance Jesus asks us to lean on Him. Dana and Stan can get through this.
Are you going through a difficult time? Trust in God to see you through. Read your Bible, pray, fellowship with other believers. Read your Bible, then do what it says, so you can learn to be like Christ.
I have many stories like these God has brought into my life. As a person who stands up for Christ in a Godless sport, I tend to hear from a lot of people and learn a lot of things.
Because of Dana and Stan, the International Christian Tennis Association has formed a tennis ministry specifically dealing with child abuse. You can visit the ICTA at www.christiantennis.net.
Oftentimes, when I stand up to an abuser, I myself get abused by them.
These abusive cowards often threaten to harm me, either physically or by slander, so they can once again live their life of abusive behavior.
God is in control.
I pray this story has touched your heart. Please pray for Dana and Stan, as well as for their entire family. Please pray as well for the pedophile tennis coach at the famous tennis academy in Florida.
Stan was such a big guy. Strong and seemingly secure…. to this day I have his memory etched in my thoughts…
May God bless and keep you,
Read more articles by Scott Paschal or search for articles on the same topic or others.
Mr. Paschal. Something is wrong in our supposedly so advanced society when individuals such as the coach you described at the prominent tennis academy, is able to still hold his job. How can any responsible caring adult in management of a facility not care more about the students as children of God... I think that is the problem. We have a society that has become more Godless than God fearing. I will pray that God will continue to bless ministries such as yours to find God's grace and to help heal those that have been utterly demolished by Satan's foot soldiers. God bless, and keep up the obedience to the Call.
Amy, I tremendously appreciate your taking the time to critique my articles, and to offer such support! Yes, it is difficult to understand how people like that coach are able to still hold their jobs when they should be in prison. In fact, that particular coach spends much time anonymously slandering me via the internet. In some ways I think he is trying to harm my reputation so maybe others won't listen to my opinion when/if I decide to share Dana's full story. There are legal ramifications on my end that I must be aware of as well. That said, the International Christian Tennis Association now has well over 100 members who are attorneys. I believe we will have free legal help no matter what the situation is we face. There is a strong abusive force in world class athletics... and our Christian tennis ministry plans to be a positive voice for those who have been abused, as well as a shelter from the abuser.
scott paschal here... quick note to let each of you know the international christian tennis association is willing and able to help you if you have been abused and need assisitance. contact me at 386 793 0557... ask for me, rachel snelen, or melody snelen. icta tennis ministry does have access to a certified chaplain, joy snelen, as well. we're here for you and not afraid of the bullies harming your life.