There’s a broadly shared picture on social media of Nick Bollettieri, shirtless with the ones signature sun shades overlaying his eyes, engaged in a talk on court docket with Andre Agassi, that long-haired tennis-hating teenager who used to be all ears in that second looking at his racquet . There’s additionally a video of Bollettieri, shirtless once more, yelling virtually continuously from at the back of the baseline as Serena Williams, the ones white hair beads bouncing round, oscillated from left to proper all the way through a hitting consultation.
That used to be the quintessential Bollettieri, a progressive trainer so immersed in tennis that he no longer best increased the game however reworked how it used to be taught.
Bollettieri, the person who labored with 10 former global No 1 avid gamers, has died on the age of 91. Last month, his daughter put out on social media that “dad is close to transitioning to the next place”. He died on Sunday at his house in Florida.
The celebrated, charismatic and frequently arguable American trainer has in his CV names of Boris Becker, Jim Courier, Agassi, Martina Hingis, Jelena Jankovic, Marcelo Rios, Monica Seles, Maria Sharapova and the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus. His training affect despite the fact that used to be a lot deeper than creating champions on the most sensible stage. The Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, based in 1978, would develop into the blueprint for academies over the sector as the primary full-time, live-in heart that introduced tennis training along custom designed instructional curriculum for children.
Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2014, Bollettieri—he described himself because the “Michelangelo of tennis”—touched the lives and careers of masses different elite avid gamers at the skilled excursion and, as famend modern day trainer Patrick Mouratoglou put it, “made our industry grow” and “opened opportunities for coaches and players”.
“You were a dreamer and a doer, and a pioneer in our sport, truly one of a kind,” Tommy Haas, the previous global No 2 German and amongst Bollettieri’s trainees, wrote on Instagram.
Born in 1931 in New York, Bollettieri’s best brush with enjoying the game got here all the way through his school days in Alabama from the place he earned a philosophy stage. He then served the United States military as a paratrooper earlier than signing up—and ultimately chucking up the sponge—in a legislation college on the University of Miami. While there, Bollettieri introduced half-hourly tennis courses for $1.5 at the North Miami Beach courts. It used to be all the way through one such consultation with a bunch of children that he used to be noticed by means of Vince Lombardi, the mythical American soccer trainer, who suggested Bollettieri to paintings with youngsters.
His pre-academy training gigs, which started within the Fifties, noticed him teach budding American avid gamers on courts of public parks and inns. USA’s Brian Gottfried, who reached a career-high global No. 3 in 1977, used to be one in all his first few distinguished pupils.
In 1978, the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy took form and two years later, the visionary borrowed $1 million from a chum to construct the residential tennis academy in Bradenton, Florida. It would, through the years, transform a hub of tennis ability; one who no longer best molded the star-studded chain of global no. 1s but in addition the likes of Germany’s Sabine Lisicki, Japanese Kei Nishikori and Yuki Bhambri of India.
Bollettieri had no formal tennis training background or technical experience of the sport, however, as he mentioned in an previous interview, “the gift God gave me was the ability to read people”. His disciplinarian training taste frequently turned into contentious, and Agassi would later admit that he hated his time within the academy. “The only way I could get out was to succeed,” he wrote.
Bollettieri ensured a large number of those that checked into his academy did precisely that—be triumphant. Even after he bought the academy to IMG in 1987 whilst nonetheless enjoying an lively function within the training scheme of items (the academy has since grown right into a sprawling 600-acre area). Bollettieri educated and traveled at the excursion smartly into his 80s, and visited India to scout youngsters for the academy in 2010.
“Tennis wouldn’t be where it is today without Nick’s influence,” Jimmy Arias, the present director of tennis on the academy who additionally educated underneath Bollettieri, mentioned. “His tennis academy, which I had the privilege of growing up within, not only served as a launching pad for many tennis greats but evolved into an institution that has had a profound impact on the development of athletes across many sports at all levels.”