Nick Bollettieri: DREAM THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM - UBITENNIS
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Nick Bollettieri: DREAM THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM

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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/

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Andre Agassi’s Failed Doping Tests Covered Up By ATP, Claims Former Rival

A former world No.1 has made a bold claim about the American tennis legend.

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Andre Agassi attending Roland Garros in 2017 (photo by Roberto Dell Olivo)

Marcelo Rios has launched an attack on the ATP during an interview with Chilean publication La Tercera when talking about anti-doping measures in the sport.

 

Rios, who reached a ranking high of No.1 back in 1998, has claimed that he was only tested three times by anti-doping officials throughout his entire career. However, he states that he never consumed any banned substances. He said measures during his playing days were poor and difficult for many players to understand. Rios won 18 ATP titles between 1995-2001 and reached the final of the 1998 Australian Open.

“They give you a sheet that I didn’t understand anything it said. The ATP does it wrong in that area. They give you a list where there are millions of things you never saw in your life. They got too drastic. One thing is personal life and another thing is to dope to take advantage.” He said.
“I never doped in my tennis time. I drank alcohol, yes, but weed or another strong drug no, because of doping and because I was not interested in getting into things like that. I had three anti-doping tests done throughout my career.”

During the 1990s and early 2000s Andre Agassi was one of the stars of the men’s tour. He was the fifth man in history to complete a career grand slam and spent a total of 101 weeks at the top of the ATP rankings. In his autobiography he admitted to taking crystal meth back in 1997 and failing a drugs test which he escaped punishment for after saying he inadvertently consumed the illegal substance. The revelation prompted numerous condemnation on the tour and placed the ATP under scrutiny by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Agassi received no punishment following his admission.

However, a blunt speaking Rios has alleged that the governing body of men’s tennis was deliberately involved in hiding Agassi’s failed drugs test. Doping controls are managed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), but in the past it was the responsibility of each tour, the ATP and WTA.

“They caught him four times and the ATP covered him because he was Agassi and the tennis was going to shit. I found the biggest shit that exists at the ATP.“ Rios said.

During their careers, Rios played his American rival three times on the tour. He defeated Agassi in the finals of the Grand Slam Cup and Miami Masters during 1998.

The 44-year-old has also spoken out about the provisional suspension of one of his compatriots, Nicolas Jarry. Jarry tested positive for ligandrol and stanozolol during the Davis Cup Finals last November, but insists that he has never intentionally took any illegal drugs.

“When I competed, they analysed only urine samples. Now it’s also with blood samples, so trying to hide something is very difficult and nowadays you get caught whatever you want to do.” Rios commented on the matter.
“Nico was very fed up and I told him: “You will continue to be Nico Jarry if you are suspended for four years or whatever. I love you as a friend, I love you as a player and if I never play again, you will continue to be my friend.’”

Rios is set to play an exhibition match with former player Alex Corretja at the Gran Arena Monticello in Santiago on June 26th.

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16-Year-Old Tennis Prodigy Who Compares His Tennis To Federer Shines At Rio Open

Becoming the first player born in 2003 to win an ATP Match, Carlos Alcaraz is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Rafael Nadal.

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The opening day of the Rio Open in Brazil was dominated by a marathon night-time classic involving the youngest player currently ranked inside the top 500 on the ATP Tour.

 

Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz made his ATP main draw debut in the Brazilian capital on Monday at the age of 16. Taking on veteran player and seventh seed Albert Ramos Viñolas, who is 15 years older than him, the teenager battled to an epic 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-6(2) victory. The roller coaster match lasted more than three-and-a-half hours and didn’t finish until 3am. The showdown was a stern test of Alcaraz’s mentality as he trailed 0-3 in the decider and then failed to convert two match points when leading 5-3 before prevailing in the tiebreaker.

“I will remember Rio forever,” atptour.com quoted Alcaraz as saying. “I am very happy to win my first ATP Tour match. This has been the longest and most intense match I’ve played so far. There were quite difficult conditions, but if you have the right attitude, the conditions don’t matter. You can achieve anything.”

Coached on the tour by former world No.1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, Alcaraz started to turn heads on the tour last year. At the Murcia Challenger, which was only his fourth senior tournament, he scored a win over the then ranked No.140 Pedro Martínez. Becoming the first Spanish male player to defeat a top 200 player since Rafael Nadal back in 2002.

“I always have positive thoughts. I always think I can win, no matter who the opponent is,” he said. “If you don’t think you can win, you shouldn’t go on the court.”

The belief that he has what it takes to one day rise to the top of the sport is there for the Spaniard. In an interview with Trans World Sport earlier this year (see video below), he said his goal was ‘to become world No.1 and win as many grand slams as possible.’

Hailing from the same homeland as tennis legend Rafael Nadal, the teenager is obviously inspired by him. However, Alcaraz believes his tennis is more similar to that of another member of the Big Three – Roger Federer.

”I like to play very aggressively, with a lot of winners. My style is more or less like Roger Federer’s, aggressively coming to the net and playing a lot of drop shots,” the Spaniard explained.
”When I spend time with tennis greats like Rafa or Ferrero or any other player, I don’t say anything. I listen to everything they say because it is very valuable to me,” he later added.
“In each tournament I go to, I try to do my best. If that happens, then I will gradually go up.”

Prior to Rio, the rising star has already enjoyed success on the ITF tour this year. In Manacor he won back-to-back $15,000 tournaments last month by dropping only two sets in total. Following that, he was also runner-up at another $15,000 event in Turkey to Zsombor Piros. Piros is currently the only player to defeat him in 2020.

Alcaraz is the first player born in 2003 to win an ATP Tour match. He will play Argentine qualifier Federico Coria in the second round.

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Kim Clijsters Exits Dubai With Confidence Boost And Extra Motivation

The multiple grand slam winner speaks out about her comeback match and the support she has received from her family.

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Kim Clijsters (Twitter, @WTA_insider)

Former world No.1 Kim Clijsters has said she needs to remain patient with her tennis after losing in the first round of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Monday.

 

The four-time grand slam champion was in impressive form on the court despite falling in straight sets to Spain’s Garbine Muguruza.Who reached the final of the Australian Open last month. The encounter was Clijsters’ first competitive match on the tour since the 2012 US Open, where Muguruza coincidentally made her grand slam debut.

Whilst it wasn’t a fairy-tale return to the tour for the 36-year-old, she insisted that she had a ‘good feeling’ whilst playing on the court. Hitting 15 winners to 23 unforced errors and winning a total of 67 points against Muguruza.

“I had a good feeling out there, I felt a pace I can handle. I felt like I was able to go toe-to-toe with her from the baseline,” Clijsters told reporters.
“I wouldn’t have done this if I didn’t have that belief somehow. It might take 10 matches to get the way I played in the second set, might take me 10 matches to get that from start to finish.
“I have patience. I’m going to work my way into it and fight. We’ll see what happens.”

The return of the 36-year-old has earned her praise from many stars of the sport on social media. Serena Williams, who has played her on the tour nine times in the past, said she was ‘inspired’ by her rival. Meanwhile Conchita Martinez, who is the coach of Muguruza, said Clijsters were already playing at an ‘amazing level.’

It was the support of her family that aided Clijsters’ decision to return to the tour after almost eight years away. She is married to Brian Lynch, who himself is a former professional basketball player and coach. Together they have three children called Jada, Jack and Blake.

“Jada is like, mum, do it. If you feel like doing it, just do it.She commented on her family’s support.
“Jack, our middle child, he was like, mum, I hope you lose your first match, then you can come home quicker.’
“It’s just different feelings. My youngest is really too young to understand, but the support is there. They see me practice and they play some tennis at the academy as well.”

For the foreseeable future, the Belgian doesn’t have any goals when it comes to results in tournaments or trying to win a title yet. However, that doesn’t mean that she hasn’t set a high standard for herself to follow. Following their match, Muguruza was asked about Clijsters’ level. The Spaniard replied ‘a player who has played incredible can play incredible again.’

“I have expectations. They’re not result related or ranking related. They’re more individually for myself.” Clijsters recently stated.
“It’s getting a feeling of how I want to play out there. That’s the expectation or the goal I’m trying to get to.”

The next tournament for Clijsters will be the Monterrey Open in Mexico, which will get underway on March 2nd.

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