A Briarwood man’s attempt to get close to tennis star Rafael Nadal at the US Open last week did not end in love.
Noam Aorta, 23, of Briarwood, was arrested and faces jail time after he allegedly ran onto the court at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium just after midnight Sept. 9 to hug and kiss Nadal, who had just advanced to the quarterfinals after beating Gael Monfils, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
The New York Post reported Nadal was startled by the embrace that occurred as he was changing his shirt on the sideline but said “it wasn’t a problem.”
“The guy was really nice,” the Post reported Nadal as saying. “He said, ‘I love you,’ and he kissed me.”
Aorta, an Israeli citizen, could get slapped with a $5,000 fine and spend up to a year behind bars if he is convicted, the DA said. He has been charged with criminal trespass and interfering with a professional sporting event.
The Briarwood resident was released without bail following his arraignment, but the judge required him to turn in his passport. He was banned from entering the National Tennis Center.
Brown said he was especially disconcerted that Aorta had made bodily contact with the player, noting that in 1993 tennis pro Monica Seles was stabbed in the back by a spectator during a match in Hamburg, Germany.
“The Queens District Attorney’s Office and US Open officials have zero tolerance for spectators who fail to conduct themselves responsibly at sporting events,” Brown said. “… There is no such thing as being too careful.”
US Open Tournament Director Jim Curley also responded harshly to Aorta’s actions, saying during an interview with ESPN that “what took place … was simply unacceptable.”
The City Council passed the Interference with a Professional Sporting Event Law in 2003 after fashion designer Calvin Klein stepped out onto the basketball court at Madison Square Garden in March 2003 to speak with Knicks player Latrell Sprewell while a game was in progress.
John McCarthy, 38, of New Jersey, was the first person charged under the law when he ran onto the field during a Mets game at Shea Stadium on May 4, 2004, carrying a sign that read: “Howard Stern: Here’s Johnny.” McCarthy pleaded guilty that August and was sentenced to eight weekends in jail and fined $2,000.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson
©2009 Community News Group
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