The father of retired Australian tennis star Mark Philippoussis has been arrested on child molestation charges in San Diego.
Nikolaos Philippoussis, 68, is accused of molesting two minors who were taking tennis lessons at his California home, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday in a press release.
The elder Philippoussis is facing several charges, but few details about the case have been released. Philippoussis worked as a personal tennis coach in North San Diego County, the sheriff’s department said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Nick Philippoussis Was Arrested by Detectives at His Home in Mira Mesa
Nick Philippoussis was arrested by San Diego County Sheriff’s Department detectives Tuesday, July 25, at his home in Mira Mesa, the department said in a press release.
Philippoussis’ arrest came after an investigation by the department’s Child Abuse Unit. Police said he is accused of “multiple counts of lewd and lascivious acts with two minor victims. Philippoussis works as a personal tennis coach in Northern San Diego County and the alleged molestation victims took tennis lessons from him.”
He was charged with sexual intercourse/sodomy with a child 10 years or younger, three counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14 and oral copulation with a person under 18.
The charges are all felonies. He faces 25 years to life if convicted of the sexual intercourse charge, and up to 10 years in prison on each of the lewd and lascivious conduct charges.
Police added in the press release, “Anyone with information related to this incident is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department at (858) 974-2310.”
2. He Is a Former Banker Who Was Born in Greece & Moved to Australia With His Wife in 1973
Nikolaos Philippoussis was born in Greece, where he was a banker and businessman, and moved to Australia in 1973 with his Italian-born wife, Mark’s mother, according to Tennis.com. His son, Mark, was born in 1976 in Australia.
Nick Philippoussis was born on the island of Tinos and immigrated to Australia after seeing the TV show “Skippy,” according to a 2003 Sydney Morning Herald story. He worked in a bank and drove taxis while living there.
It is not clear if Nick is still married to his wife, Rosanna.
He battled cancer in the mid-90s, according to the Morning Herald report.
“Actually it doesn’t hit you how important life is and how important your family is. I love tennis, but it just doesn’t come close to your family and your family’s health . . . that’s the most important thing in life for me,” Mark Philippoussis told the newspaper about his father’s health scare. ”
Mark Philippoussis said his father and him became inseparable after the cancer diagnosis and his father’s survival, often at courtside for his matches.
“It’s always nice,” he said of the support of his father. “My family is my No. 1 priority in my life, not tennis. So obviously when everyone in your family is healthy, that’s the biggest blessing you could possibly have.”
3. A Former Soccer Goalkeeper, He Introduced His Son to Tennis & Coached Him During His Pro Career
Nick Philippoussis was a former soccer goalkeeper and introduced his son to tennis when he was 6. The younger Philippoussis followed his father down to the courts to watch him play in a local division match, according to a 2003 article by Warwick Green.
His father began coaching him and helping his efforts to turn pro.
“I used to work in the bank until four o’cock, then get in the cab and work until on o’clock in the morning,” Nick told GQ in 1999. “And some people pick up on that and say ‘His father is uneducated and doesn’t know anything about it. He’s a taxi driver and he does’t have any idea.’ Mark knows that’s not true.”
The elder Philippoussis coached his son off-and-on during his career, including in his final years, taking over from other coaches after his cancer battle.
A former coach, Nick Bolleteri, called Nick Philippoussis demanding and possessive in an interview with The Independent in 1997.
“I thought Nick and I could work together, and I was wrong. After the Australian Open Mr. Philippoussis decided he didn’t like stepping back. He chased Todd Viney, the trainer, away. Then he drove me away. He treated me like the water boy, not like a coach. Whatever I said, he said the opposite,” Bolleteri said. “He embarrassed me in front of other players. He embarrassed Mark, too, berated him in the locker-room at Monte Carlo. His rivals should be intimidated by Mark; they should not be feeling sorry for him.”
His father was also described by others in the article as possessive, hypersensitive and easily hurt by criticism, forging an “us vs. them” mentality on Mark.
Mark Philippoussis retired from professional tennis in 2015 after more than 300 singles wins and 11 tournament titles. He has appeared occasionally in tournaments and team tennis events in recent years, including near his San Diego home.
4. He Has Been Living in San Diego County, Near His Son, for Several Years
Nick Philippoussis has been living in San Diego County in a home owned by his son for several years, according to public records. He filed for bankruptcy in 2009, according to the Melbourne Herald-Sun, after he could not pay off a $23,000 debt. His son has also dealt with financial issues over the past decade.
Mark Philippoussis posted a tribute to his dad on Instagram in June on Father’s Day:
“Happy Father’s Day dad, you were (and still are) always by my side protecting me and guiding me through life, and now watching you do the same with your grandson Nicholas is so beautiful to watch and I remain so grateful and blessed,” he wrote in the caption of a photo of his father and son walking down the street holding a tennis bag together.
5. Nick Philippoussis Is Being Held on $2.5 Million Bail & the Investigation Is Ongoing
Nick Philippoussis is being held on $2.5 million bail at the San Diego County Jail, according to online records. He is scheduled to appear at the North County Superior Court on Wednesday, July 26 at 8 a.m. for his arraignment.
He was booked into the San Diego Central Jail just after 1 p.m. after being arrested by the county’s Fugitive Task Force, records show.
Detectives are continuing to investigate and there could be additional victims, authorities said.
“Detectives from SDSheriff Child Abuse Unit looking for more victims in a molestation case in the North County. Call 858-974-2310,” Sheriff Bill Gore tweeted.