TEMPE, AZ — A Valley tennis player alleges in a federal lawsuit that the U.S. Tennis Association failed to protect her from a coach who she says sexually abused her when she was 19.
Kylie McKenzie alleges coach Anibal Aranda touched her vagina after a 2018 practice at the USTA’s training center in Orlando, Florida.
"I was not ready for what happened to me at the USTA facility in Orlando, Florida in 2018... I was sexually assaulted by a coach that was assigned to me by USTA," said McKenzie, at a news conference Tuesday in Tempe.
McKenzie was a tennis phenom and one of the top players in the country as a teen. She told ABC15 she was recruited by USTA at age 12 to train at their facilities against the best players.
"The players were trustworthy but some of the coaches were not," said the now 23-year-old, who also mentioned sexual innuendo and comments that came from prior coaches.
The federal lawsuit, filed in Florida, states that Anibal Aranda was not criminally charged.
The New York Times was the first to report this story, and in their investigation stated that Orlando police detectives found probable cause for a battery charge, but prosecutors declined to pursue it.
"We do intend to re-engage the police department," said Robert Allard, McKenzie's attorney. "They did not do the investigation at the 'US Center for SafeSport' did."
While their findings are not public, Allard said the SafeSport investigation took months.
"SafeSport ruled that Aranda indeed sexually harassed and assaulted Kylie and issued a two-year ban to Aranda, followed by a two-year probationary period," said Allard.
McKenzie believes the punishment should be more severe and says her promising career has been setback by the alleged assault.
"Following the crime, I began experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, and depression... My confidence and my self-esteem were gone, both on and off the court," she said.
In the wake of the MeToo movement, governing bodies for sports, in both gymnastics and swimming, have undergone a reckoning regarding sexual misconduct. The scandals, and lawsuits, have led to sweeping changes.
McKenzie and her attorney want to see similar changes made at USTA.
"We need to have a publicized 'ban list,'" said Allard. "We need to have a database where parents can communicate with each other… Safeguards have to be made to ensure something like this does not happen again."
McKenzie agreed to let her identity be known in coverage of the lawsuit, in hopes that her story will help others.
"I hope that by speaking out other young girls and women are not silenced or afraid to speak up," said McKenzie. "I hope that the USTA will put athlete safety and protection at the forefront of everything that they do."
The USTA says it had no knowledge of harassment or inappropriate conduct by Aranda until McKenzie reported the incident and then acted swiftly in reporting the allegation and terminating the former coach.
Efforts to reach Aranda for comment were unsuccessful.