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Tennis coach cruelty case: Dad admits 'fun' began to wane

The ex-tennis coach whose daughters accuse him of cruelty has admitted the fun appeared to be going out of the game for his elder child when she was just six years old.

John De'Viana is accused of subjecting daughters Monaei and Nephe to years of physical and emotional abuse.

He told the jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court he had reported so-called pushy parents.

Mr De'Viana, of Ilford, east London, denies two counts of child cruelty.

He said he first had concerns about Monaei, now 21, as she became better at the sport.

Mr De'Viana, 55, said: "It got to a point where I started to recognise the fun element of her own success was waning.

"I began to understand the crossover line between coach and father. I felt that Monaei and I weren't enjoying all the fun things that we used to do."

He added: "As a father and a coach there was a fine line and I was already struggling to stay on balance."

'Idiot'

But Mr De'Viana said he had recognised potential issues early on and sought advice from the Lawn Tennis Association.

The court heard how the girls were described in various terms including "idiot", in expletive-ridden statistics sheets showing their performance in matches.

Earlier jurors heard evidence from Mr De'Viana's former partner Michelle Horne, who denied lying about the allegations against him.

She said their daughters were made to train from a young age whether they wanted to play or not.

Ms Home told the court Mr De'Viana was "very controlling".

"He did everything he wanted to do," she said. "Nobody really got a say."

'It was cruel'

Ms Horne said Monaei was made to hold a tennis racquet from the age of 10 months and made to play aged three.

"By the age of three she didn't really have a choice as to what he made her do," she said.

But Tara Adkin QC, defending, suggested no-one could not force a three-year-old to do something they did not want to do.

Ms Horne replied: "Yes, you can, because he did."

The jury heard that the couple split up several years ago and Ms Adkin suggested Ms Horne had lied in giving evidence to help in her battle for contact with her daughters.

She said: "You have tried throughout giving your evidence to rewrite the childhood of your two girls. You have tried to present it as cruelty during tennis training when it was nothing of the sort."

Ms Horne replied: "It was cruel."

The trial continues.

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