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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Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev Fight Back To Clinch Dramatic Laver Cup Victory For Europe

20-time grand slam champion Federer has hailed Europe’s latest triumph in the team tournament as an ‘unbelievable roller-coaster.’

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After three days of pulsating action at the Laver Cup in Geneva, it was the final 10-point tiebreaker that separated team Europe from their opponents.

 

Lead by Roger Federer and Co, the European contingent was expected to cruise towards victory given their calibre of seven top 20 players compared to only one from team World. They headed into the final day of competition with a 7-5 lead, but a dramatic twist in momentum saw the underdogs claim six consecutive points. Thanks to Jack Sock and John Isner triumphing in the doubles, followed by Taylor Fritz stunning Dominic Thiem 7-5, 6-7(3), 10-5. Making it Fritz’s first ever win over a top five player.

“That was a big match for Team World. We really needed that win. To let my team down the first day and contribute to the team today and give them the win means so much to me,” Fritz said during an on-court interview. “This has to be one of the biggest wins of my career. You’re usually just playing for yourself, but it means so much when you’re playing for other people.”

In danger of losing the title for the first time in the history of the Laver Cup, it was up to 20-time grand slam Federer to start the comeback. The Swiss maestro is one of the co-founders of the team tournament. Taking on Isner, Federer delighted his animated home crowd with a resounding 6-4, 7-6(3), triumph. Reducing his teams deficit from 7-11 to 10-11.

“What an atmosphere and what a match. I’m thrilled that I was able to give something back to the team after a tough Match Tie-break (in doubles) earlier today,” Federer said. “Team Europe has been amazing. They’ve fought so hard and played so well.”

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Undoubtedly Federer is the player everybody in Geneva wanted to see, however, it was Alexander Zverev, who had the most pressure placed on his shoulders. Not only was he playing the final match of the 2019 tie, he had to win or Eureope’s stronghold on the Laver Cup would come to an end. A situation he was also placed in 12 months ago.

Standing in Zverev’s way was former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic. A player renowned for his blistering serve. Like the 2019 event, it was a turbulent encounter. At one set apiece, the German ousted his rival in a decisive tiebreaker. Working his way to five match points after hitting a deep backhand winner. It was on his first opportunity where Zverev prevailed after hitting a forehand cross-court winner. Claiming the match 6-4, 3-6, 10-4 and prompting the world No.6 to drop onto his knees as an almighty roar erupted around the Palexpo Arena.

“It was an unbelievable weekend. They (team world) were one or two points away from winning it all. Credit to all of you. Every one of you deserved to win.” Zverev said in tribute to his deflated opponents afterwards.
“I played an unbelievable tiebreaker. I am super thankful to Roger, Rafa and the team. Without them on the bench today I would not have done it.” He added.

In the aftermath of the triumph, blue confetti dropped onto the black court in Geneva. Symbolising Europe’s latest triumph in the competition and their third in a row. It was during the trophy ceremony where it confirmed that the 2020 event will return back to America and be held in Boston. The venue will be the 20,000 capacity TD Garden, which is the home ground of NBA team Boston Celtics and NHL team Boston Bruins.

“Congratulations Team World on an unbelievable fight, I can’t wait for the next one in Boston. For us, so many emotions. It’s been an unbelievable roller-coaster.” Federer said in a tribute to close the 2019 competition.
“Bjorn, you’re a great captain, and Rocket (Rod Laver), thanks for being here today. It makes it more special.
“It’s been a dream weekend for me to be playing in Switzerland. Thank you for all the noise you’ve made, I’ve loved every moment.”

The 2020 Laver Cup will take place between September 25-27.

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Andy Murray Undecided On Future, Plays Down Chances Of Returning To His Best

Murray’s future in the sport may be uncertain, but he has no fear regardless of what may happens.

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Three-time grand slam champion Andy Murray has said it would be ‘silly’ for him to think that he could return back to the top of his game.

 

The former world No.1 has been dodged by hip problems over the past two years and has undergone two surgeries within that period. The most recent took place after the Australian Open where he had hip resurfacing surgery. Due to the problems, Murray is currently ranked outside the top 400 and is still in the middle of returning back to singles competition.

Murray’s next test will be the Zhuhai Championships, which will officially get underway on Monday. It will be the fourth tournament where he has played in the singles draw after having surgery. During a pre-tournament press day, the Brit spoke frankly about his chances of hitting top form in the future.

“Honestly, I’m not expecting to get back to my very best,” Murray said during an interview with AFP news.
“I think it would be probably a bit naive and silly to think that would be the case.
“I do feel like tennis-wise I can still compete at the highest level in terms of my skill, it’s just whether physically I can get to a high enough level to be competitive right at the top.
“I’ve still got quite a ways to go in that respect, I don’t know exactly where the end point is.”

Earlier this week at the Laver Cup, John McEnroe told reporters he ‘absolutely believes’ that Murray could return to the top 10 as long as he stays injury free. The Brit has spent 41 weeks as world No.1 during his career. The 14th longest streak in the Open Era.

For the moment retirement is not on the mind of the 32-year-old. Who has vowed to continue playing as long as he keeps improving further on the tour. However, the prospect of walking away from the sport for good is not as daunting as it once was for him.

“Tennis has always been a huge part of my life, but I realised probably then that actually my health was the most important thing for a happy life and I had always probably been worried about what life might look like after tennis,” he said.
“I had a glimpse these last few months and it was brilliant.
“I was just in no pain, just doing lots of different things, hanging out with friends and family, and it was great.
“So I am looking forward to when I do stop playing eventually.
“But while I am not in pain just now, I will try to keep playing tennis because I enjoy it.”

Murray will play Tennys Sandgren in the first round of the Zhuhai Championships in what will be an opportunity to get revenge. He lost to the American in the first round of the Winston-Salem Open last month.

Timeline of Murray’s latest comeback

June:- wins doubles title at Queen’s with Feliciano Lopez in comeback tournament. A week later he loses in the first round of the men’s doubles draw in Eastbourne with Marcelo Melo.
July: Returns to Wimbledon for the first time since 2017. Pairs up with Serena Williams to reach third round in the mixed doubles. Loses in the first round of the men’s doubles.
August: Continues to play a couple more doubles tournaments before starting his singles comeback at the Cincinnati Masters, where he loses his opening match to Richard Gasquet. Then in Winston-Salem he was ousted by Sandgren in the first round.
September: Plays first Challenger event since 2005. Scores two wins before losing in the quarter-finals.

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Former Mentor Of Dominic Thiem Slams Trio Of Rising Stars In Men’s Tennis

The renowned Austrian coach has branded Alexander Zverev a ‘total failure.’

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The man responsible for helping Dominic Thiem rise to the top of the sport has blasted three players tipped to become stars of the game in the future.

 

Gunter Bresnik, who is also known for his previous work with Ernests Gulbis, believes some players are missing what Daniil Medvedev has on the tour. Medvedev is currently in the midst of his breakthrough season. This week is the fifth consecutive tournament where the Russian has reached a final on the ATP Tour. During the summer he claimed his first Masters title in Cincinnati and finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the US Open.

“I said to Dominic in February in Buenos Aires: ‘Do not just look forward to Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, look back: Medvedev is coming.” Bresnik said during an interview with heute.at.
“He laughed at me, Medvedev is smart, has that Russian sense of humour, is moving extremely well. (This is what) the other boys are missing.”

Asked to pinpoint who he meant, the 58-year-old didn’t hold back. Describing Germany’s Alexander Zverev as a ‘total failure.’ Zverev is currently ranked sixth in the world and has 11 ATP titles to his name. The most prestigious of which being the ATP Finals, which he won last November. However, Zverev wasn’t the only player to be criticised by the Austrian.

“Zverev is a total failure, (Stefanos) Tsitsipas was grotesque at two majors this year, (Denis) Shapovalov would be dangerous because he has the weapons, but he has not been trained well in recent years.” He claims.

Bresnik has a wealth of experience when it comes to tennis. In his career, he has worked with more than 20 players who have reached the top 100. Including Boris Becker, Henri Leconte, Stefan Koubek and Jeff Tarango. In his home country, he was the Sports Director of the Austrian Tennis Federation (1998-99) and Davis Cup Captain twice (1992-1993 and 1998-2004).

Unsurprisingly Bresnik has a more favourable opinion when it comes to Thiem, who is now working with former player Nicolas Massu. He has known the world No.5 since he was a child. The two got acquainted after Thiem’s father applied to work at his academy in Vienna.

“Thiem, he has no technical weakness, he can control the highest speed in a controlled manner, he was closer to Nadal than Medvedev in New York last year, many forget that, but he has to get his level.” He concluded.

At present Bresnik is working with WTA player Mira Antonitsch, who is yet to crack the top 500 on the tour.

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