A Tribute to Nick Bollettieri

AP/Michael Dwyer, file

A Tribute to Nick Bollettieri

The world of tennis has lost a legend.

On December 4th 2022, Nick Bollettieri passed away at the age of 91. While this is an incredibly sad time for his family and friends, it’s also a great opportunity to celebrate the incredible life and legacy of Nick Bollettieri.

Nick will forever be associated with his namesake tennis academy, which he sold to IMG in 1987. Bollettieri was the first academy of its kind, rounding up the best American talent in Bradenton, Florida. The most famous pupil he ever had was Andre Agassi. I remember as a kid watching Agassi’s matches and Bollettieri was as big a celebrity as Andre in the early days. I remember wondering who the man who always stood shirtless during their practices was. He already looked famous and definitely had a style of his own. His style coupled with Andre’s style made for a pretty excellent partnership. My dream as a kid was for my parents to send me to the Bollettieri academy. It was not to be though!

Nevertheless, Nick’s work was not isolated to Agassi. He also worked with Seles, Sharapova, and Williams among others. He was also known for being an innovative coach who experimented with new techniques and tactics that have become standard practice today. For example, he was one of the first coaches to incorporate sports psychology into his coaching methods—a practice that has since been adopted by virtually every top-level tennis player. In addition to coaching some of the greatest players ever to grace a court, he was also inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2014 for his contributions to the game.

Nick Bollettieri’s legacy will live on through all those he coached throughout his lifetime as well as all those who continue to benefit from his innovations and teachings today. IMG continues to run what is in essence the Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton, Florida. I continue to dream about going there. However, this time around I dream that it will be my son and daughter attending the academy not me. We’ll miss you Nick!

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