VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY)- He is Energetic, confident and charismatic. Nick Bollettieri is always a man in motion.
The legendary tennis coach has guided thousands of players over many decades of teaching. “Nick has been responsible for the best players in out tennis industry. Monica Seles, Andra Agassi, Jim Courier. He’s worked with Boris Becker, the Williams sisters. His academy in Florida produces 1000’s of college players each year,” said Cape Henry Racquet Club owner Darryl Cummings.
Bollettieri was at the Cape Henry Racquet Club this week giving lessons and helping celebrate the clubs 40th anniversary. This just days after being inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. “Its only now beginning to sink in. To think that I am only 1 of 230 that have gotten in it since 1954 from 20 countries. The award does not belong to me. It belongs to the people who helped get to where I am today,” said Bollettieri.
In 1978, he opened the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy near Bradenton, Florida. Nine years later he sold it to IMG and its now considered the top amateur sports training facility in the nation. “What we try to do at IMG is prepare kids for life. That’s more important than just for a sport,” said Bollettieri.
As a young Italian boy growing up in New York, Bollettieri says his grandmother helped form his coaching philosophy. “My grandmother always said to do things. Don’t worry if you did them well, bad or indifferent. Just do things.”
Bollettieri says the cost of tennis is preventing many of the best US athletes from excelling in the game. “What I would do is go out and do a talent search, get the best, 11, 12, 13 athletes. I would work with their coaches. I would get them sponsors to sponsor them like I did when I coached those ten champions,” added Bottettieri.
Bollettieri will turn 83 this month, but has shown no signs of slowing down. His impact on the game is secure and likes the legacy he has left behind. “For giving hope to people. Not the 10 number 1’s in the world, but making people excited that they can achieve in life.”