THE father of under fire British tennis starlet David Rice has come out fighting in support of his son after he was suspended over alleged 'unprofessional behaviour'.
Rice, the second best British junior, who lives in Croxley Green, is believed to have had his funding and coaching withdrawn along with national Under-18 champion Naomi Broady. The Lawn Tennis Association said they were in breach of their contracts requiring them to act professionally after being alerted to content on Bebo, a popular social networking website.
Reports say the pictures show one of the junior stars draped on a hotel bed surrounded by pizza boxes while another shows one allegedly under the influence of alcohol.
However, Rice's father Richard claims the reports are distorted and, as far as his son is concerned, have blown the episode "out of all proportion."
He says the content on his son's Bebo profile under scrutiny is two years old and believes he is not in any of the pictures.
"David is as shocked as anyone as to how the media have blown this out of all proportion," said Rice Snr. "I think he said (on Bebo) that he likes going out in Watford with his mates, which is a rare occurence. He doesn't go drinking or partying but he likes the odd night out with his mates, the same as any other 18-year-old."
Richard says he expects his son to emerge a stronger and better player for the experience, but is wary it could have knocked his confidence in the short-term.
"He has been humiliated and I hope it won't have a long-term effect on him," added Richard.
For the full story, pick up a copy of this Friday's Watford Observer.