Nick Bollettieri: DREAM THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Hot Topics

Nick Bollettieri: DREAM THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM

Avatar

Published

on

In the first of a series of articles that Nick Bolletteri has agreed for Ubitennis to publish, the renowned tennis coach writes about how he created one of the most influential training centres in the history of tennis.

How could I have known that my two, broken down tennis courts in Victory Park was someday morph into the greatest athletic training facility that the world? How could I have imagined that those two courts, in North Miami Beach, Florida would one day lead to a training facility that would host 10 of the top tennis players in the world? How could anyone have predicted that those modest beginnings would one day become IMG Academies, training the finest athletes in the world, in nearly a dozen sports? Only a dreamer; someone who put no limits on his imagination! My life has been a series of opportunities; both seized and missed. Imagine this:

 
  1. I entered into teaching tennis by accident. I played college tennis but knew nothing about teaching the game.
  2. I had to earn some money to support my wife and son while attending the University of Miami Law School.
  3. I knew nothing about tennis and even less about how to teach it.
  4. I learned by watching the most respected coach in the Miami area. His name was Slim Harbett and he taught at Henderson Park.
  5. I listened intently and copied his techniques. Over time I developed my own teaching techniques and soon realized that I had an eye for talent and an even quicker eye for recognizing technical problems.
  6. I learned that making small adjustments was much more effective than making macro changes. Students got better more quickly and didn’t suffer the anguish of a major disruption of their games.

To cite two examples, Cheryl Smith won the Girls USTA National 14s. Cheryl was a steady baseliner. Brian Gottfried preferred coming to the net and volleying and became one of the top world-ranked players.

Yes, I have always been a dreamer. Far beyond what we would call normal ambition, I gave up on serious opportunities to achieve my goals. For example, I dropped out of law school after only 3 months, realizing, although I had a gift for law (I could sell sand in the desert), that it wasn’t the destination that was meant for me.

My uncle, Tony DeFillipo, who was head of the sanitation department in the City of North Miami Beach, and his best friend, Frank Sepedi, who has the Water Commissioner for the City, helped to change this small, broken down tennis facility. With their influence my small complex became an 8-court facility with lights. You see the picture? Two Big Hitters, Two Big Italians! Little by little I began to learn more about teaching tennis and one important realization, “No two players are alike.” My top students were Brian Gottfried, Cheryl Smith, Margie and David Gengler, George and Randi Shuert, Paul Kantrowich, Joe Szucs and a few others.

Before long, my name became attached to the excellence of my students and another big opportunity arose. I was offered the job of Director of Tennis for the City of Springfield, Ohio. The program there was only for the summers and had earned the reputation as one of the best junior programs in America. 1,500 youngsters, dressed in white clothing, attended each week. Although the children paid $.50 to travel on the bus, the instruction was absolutely free. My winters were spent at various clubs until another opportunity presented itself. With the support of the Passarell family, I became the tennis director of Laurance Rockefeller Hotels (Rock Resorts). I spent the next several winters in Puerto Rico running the tennis programs, which gave me the opportunity to meet some of the most influential people in the world. Some of those titans were: Bob Kraft, owner of the Boston Patriots, Louis Marx, whose father owned Marx Toys. (He later lent me $2 million to build the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy). Vince Lombardi, Coach of the Green Bay Packers, Carolina Murphy, the Horowitz Family, who would later support everything that I did in tennis, Dan Lufkin, the Carlson Family, the Landow Family, and the Zausner Family (who built the Port Washington Tennis Academy for me).

I realized that other tennis facilities were bigger, had rest rooms, club houses, etc. My facility had a few courts, a rock wall, a Pepsi machine and an umbrella serving as my pro shop. But I realized that success depended upon my willingness to devote my life to the sport; to get to know the kids and their families. It also allowed me to understand that “success” means different things to different people. To some, it meant learning to play a game that can last a lifetime. To others it meant making the high school or college tennis team. To still others it meant getting a college scholarship or playing on the pro circuit. It became clear to me that the aspirations of the player had a great deal to do with the outcome.

I have enjoyed a career that has helped thousands of players achieve their dreams. I’ve had ten number one players in the world and thousands who achieved the level of success that they aspired to. I must have been doing something right. I was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. This was followed my induction into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame in recognition of my decades of commitment to the inner cities of America and my collaborations with tennis legend and humanitarian Arthur Ashe. Who could ask for a more rewarding life?

The IMG Academy was founded by Nick Bolletteri in 1978 and has been the training centre for some of the worlds best tennis players. Bolletteri has already coached ten world No.1 players, including Andre Agassi, Brois Becker, Martina Hingis, Venus and Serena Williams. The 400 acre complex trains 13,000 junior, collegiate, adult & professional athletes annually, including families and corporate groups,  from over 75 countries. To find out more about programs provided by the academy, visit https://www.imgacademy.com/

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Hot Topics

‘Exhausted’ Rafael Nadal Taking A Break To Avoid Mental Fatigue, Says Coach Moya

One of Rafael Nadal’s mentors has shed some light on his recent decision.

Avatar

Published

on

A combination of mental tiredness and restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to Rafael Nadal’s decision to take a break from the sport, according to one of his coaches.

 

Last week the 20-time Grand Slam champion announced that he would be skipping both Wimbledon and the Olympics with the goal of preserving his health. In a statement 34-year-old Nadal said the decision has been made in order to help prolong his career on the Tour and help him ‘recuperate after a long clay-court season’.

“It’s never an easy decision but after listening to my body and discussing it with my team I understand that it is the right decision,” said Nadal.
“The goal is to prolong my career and continue to do what makes me happy.”

Speaking to RTVE earlier this week, coach Carlos Moya said Nadal’s break from tennis is also linked to him feeling mentally tired following the past few weeks on the Tour. The Spaniard has won titles in Barcelona and Rome but fell short at his beloved French Open. At Roland Garros Nadal was ousted in four sets by Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals. Making it only the third time in history he has ever been defeated at the Grand Slam. He also lost to Djokovic in 2015 and Robin Soderling in 2009.

The clay court tour was very tough, with a lot of physical and mental pressure. Rafa finished exhausted.” Said Moya.
“He is going to take a well-deserved rest, this is a marathon, a long-distance race in which hard decisions have to be made and he has considered that the best thing is to stop to come back full of strength.”

Moya, who won the 1998 French Open, has been a member of Nadal’s coaching team since December 2016. He says the king of clay was on the verge of suffering from ‘mental fatigue’ in recent months similar to 2019 when he struggled at times with his form on court. Although during that year he did win the French Open and then reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon.

“Rafa two years ago reached a point of great mental fatigue that was very difficult to get out of and now he has interpreted that he was close to that again. He cannot afford a Grand Slam if he is not at 100%, for all that his image implies, for prestige and for how he is.” Moya explained.

Besides the mental aspect, Moya also admits the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions have been difficult. Despite Wimbledon welcoming fans this year, players will be within a bubble which restricts their movement. Even those who have houses in London will not be allowed to stay there during the tournament and instead have to stay at the player’s hotel.

“The (French Open) defeat has not affected as much as the fact that there is a week less than usual to prepare for Wimbledon, as well as the context in which we are with the pandemic. It is difficult on a mental level to face the confinements prior to a great match, to play with little public, etc. This affects Rafa, he is a person who has a great connection with people and it was hard to go to London with a quarantine in between, ” he said.

As it currently stands, Nadal is set to play both the Rogers Cup and Cincinnati Masters later this year ahead of the US Open.

Continue Reading

Hot Topics

Coco Gauff Will Be A ‘Sensation’ At Wimbledon, Says Former World No.1 Austin

The 17-yeart-old has been tipped as a potential title contender at SW19 but she says her goal is to ‘have fun and enjoy’ the Championships.

Avatar

Published

on

Rising star Coco Gauff has what it takes to go all the way at Wimbledon this year, according to a former great of American tennis.

 

Two-time US Open champion Tracey Austin has backed the youngster to reach the later stages of the tournament in what will only be her second main draw appearance. Gauff made her Wimbledon debut back in 2019 when she stunned the draw by reaching the fourth round as a 15-year-old qualifier. She is the youngest player to have ever reached the main draw by coming through qualifying in the Open Era.

Since that breakthrough two years ago, the American has surged up the rankings to a career high of 23rd in the world and has already won two WTA titles. Gauff also recently reached the quarter-finals of the French Open before losing to Barbora Krejčíková who went on to win the title.

“She will go deep at Wimbledon. She will be a sensation again,Austin said of Gauff’s Wimbledon chances.
“Two years on (from 2019) her forehand has improved, her second serve has improved and she is so much stronger. (She has a) wealth of experience and has now won titles. She is going to go back there as a seeded player and she is going to go deep.”

Continuing her praise of Gauff, Austin drew parallels between the youngster and another great of the game when it comes to the use of her second serve.

“Venus (Williams) had that same slice second serve and Venus has won Wimbledon five times because the grass accentuates the grass and helps you,” she said.

Gauff is back in action this week at the Eastbourne Open where she will be unseeded in the draw. It will be her first Tour event on the surface for almost two years after the 2020 grasscourt swing was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whilst there are high expectations for the youngster to impress, Gauff insists that she is not feeling any pressure ahead of Wimbledon.

“People might expect me to feel pressure going into it, but I don’t really feel any pressure going into it. I’m just going to have fun and enjoy it. I don’t really want to push myself to compare my result this year with last time,” she told reporters on Sunday.
“I want to do better than when I first went there but it was the start of everything. I’m thankful for that experience and it definitely helped me as a player and a person.
“I guess I haven’t actually had any flashbacks regarding Wimbledon yet, so maybe that will happen when I get on the grounds.”

So far this season the 17-year-old has achieved a win-loss record of 29-10 prior to the start of Eastbourne with five of those victories being over top 20 players. She won her first clay title at the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma and reached the semi-finals of the Italian Open. Amid her success, the teenager says Wimbledon has a special place in her heart.

“Wimbledon is definitely the most prestigious out of the grand slams, they have all the rules about wearing the white and only certain people can play on the Centre Court unless you are playing a match there,” she said.
“I thought it was so cool maybe to think about playing an exclusive tournament and the fact that I got to do that so young was really cool.
“And, also play on the two biggest courts of the tournament, which many people have yet to play on, that is something I take pride in.”

In Eastbourne Gauff will play seventh seed Elise Mertens in the first round.

Continue Reading

Hot Topics

Dominic Thiem Pays Tribute To Coach Massu During Difficult Season

The 27-year-old speaks out ahead of his return to the Tour next week in Spain.

Avatar

Published

on

Austria’s Dominic Thiem says the positivity from his coach Nicolas Massu has helped him through what has been a roller-coaster season so far.

 

The world No.5 heads into the grass swing of the Tour with a win-loss record of 9-8 so far this year and has failed to win back-to-back matches in four of his five most recent tournaments played. The exception being the Madrid Open where he reached the semi-finals. Earlier this year Thiem took a break in order to ‘reset’ and admitted that he was struggling for motivation after achieving one of his career goals by winning the US Open.

Amid the mixed results on the Tour, Thiem says Massu has played a ‘very important’ role in helping him. The Chilean is a former top 10 player who is best remembered for winning a gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games. Massu won a total of six ATP titles during his career.

“He has been very important to me. It has not been easy for me this season, but he always sees the bright side and has great energy, and that helps me a lot,” Thiem told reporters on Sunday. “I haven’t been feeling good on the court lately, but he’s always been there.’
“I think that soon I will return to my level, and I thank him very much for always being here supporting me.”

Thiem’s next challenge will be at the Mallorca Open where he will be the second seed after Daniil Medvedev. He will be seeking to make amends for his disappointing French Open journey where he was stunned in the first round by Pablo Andujar. However, the Austrian has experienced mixed results on the grass during his career and has only won 50% (14/28) of ATP Tour matches played on the surface.

“After Roland Garros, I started training on the hard court to practice my shots again, which were not good at all and I needed to get them back,” he explained. “Then I started practicing on grass, first in Austria and now in Mallorca.’
“But in the end, you never know what can happen on grass. At the moment, I have improved my shooting and my mobility on the court again and I am very happy with it.”

The 27-year-old is hoping he will be able to regain his form in time for his title defence at the US Open. Thiem has already pulled out of the Olympics in order to focus on preparation leading into the event. Away from the court, he has reunited with former coach Galo Blanco who has now become his agent after joining Kosmos’ new athlete management branch.

“Little by little I am improving and now I am back to normal. I think my problem this year is that I did not train enough at the beginning of the year, and I also had several problems with injuries,” said Thiem.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen at Wimbledon, but I have the goal to do very well there and in the tournaments afterwards, and to be able to put on a good game.”

In Mallorca will start his campaign against either Jan-Lennard Struff or Adrian Mannarino.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending