Legendary Tennis Coach Nick Bollettieri Dies Aged 91  - UBITENNIS
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Legendary Tennis Coach Nick Bollettieri Dies Aged 91 

Bollettieri’s academy helped shape the future of tennis and the number of top players he has worked with is perhaps the most comprehensive in history. 

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Nick Bollettieri pictured with Serena Williams (image via nySportsday.com)

Tributes have poured in following the death of Nick Bollettieri whose long career in the sport established him as one of the most renowned coaches of the Open Era.

Bollettieri, who was born in New York to Italian parents, worked with some of the biggest names of the sport with many others also training at his prestigious academy in Florida. He oversaw the rise of stars such as Pete Sampras, Maria Sharapova, Monica Seles, Jim Courier, Jelena Jankovic, and Andre Agassi. He also worked with Boris Becker, Marcelo Rios and Sabine Lisicki. 

The American switched to tennis coaching after dropping out of law school and opened up his academy in Bradenton, Florida in 1978. 

 “I don’t want to be Perry Mason. I want to be Fred Perry.” He once famously said. 

Many credit Bollettieri for establishing a blueprint for future tennis academies and many have followed the example set by him. IMG purchased his academy in 1987 but he remained in charge of the tennis programme for many years. 

News of Bollettieri’s death was confirmed on Monday morning by former world No.2 Tommy Haas who posted a tribute on Instagram. Haas, who is currently the director of the BNP Paribas Open, is another former player who was mentored by the American. 

“So many memories, I am not sure where to begin,” he wrote. “Nickiiiii, that’s how I have called you for the longest time. Thank you for your time, knowledge, commitment, expertise, the willingness to share your skill, your personal interest in mentoring me,and giving me the best opportunity to follow my dreams.
“You were a dreamer and a doer, and a pioneer in our sport, truly one of a kind.”
“I surely will miss you around the academy, our Tennis talks, miss showing off your tan, white teeth and body fat, miss watching you do Tai Chi, miss playing Golf with you watching you try to cheat, eating a Snickers bar and running for the bushes, and hearing all about your plans even at the age of 91. Thanks again for everything……..”

Bollettieri, who also had a stint in the army as a paratrooper, was introduced into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2014. One of the most extraordinary things about him was the fact he was never a professional player and taught himself tennis techniques by visiting a local park to watch others play. It is documented that he worked with at least 19 players who went on to crack the top 10 with 10 of those eventually rising to No.1. Furthermore Mark Knowles and Max Miryni went on to become world No.1 players in doubles. 

“THANK YOU Nick. It’s hard to find the right words and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to. You have given so many children a place to work for their dream,” Germany’s Lisicki wrote on social media. 
“Supporting them with your knowledge and the belief that anything is possible. I was fortunate to be one of them. So many memories we created together that I will cherish forever. You’ve shaped the game of tennis and even just a couple of months ago at 91 you were telling me all about your next plans. You will be dearly missed. Rest In Peace Nicki.”

After initially considering tennis to be a ‘sissy sport,’ Bollettieri became a pioneer in his own right with a career spanning 60 years. Even less than a year before his death he continued to patrol the IMG Academy.

Bollettieri is survived by his wife, Cindi; seven children and four grandchildren.

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World No.634 Laura Samson Reaches First WTA Quarter-Final At 16

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Laura Samon - image via itftennis.com/ photo credi: Manuel Queimadelos

Laura Samson has become the first player born in 2008 to reach the quarter-finals of a WTA event after producing a surprise win on Tuesday. 

The 16-year-old wildcard stunned second seed Katerina Siniakova 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, in the second round at the Prague Open. Her triumph occurred a day after she dropped just two games against Tara Wurth in her opening match. This week is Samson’s Tour debut after playing 10 events on the lower-level ITF circuit. 

“I’m extremely surprised,” she said during her on-court interview after beating Siniakova. “I didn’t go into it as favorite. I’m so proud of myself and I hope I will continue to play like this. As I was going into the second set I thought, ‘I have nothing to lose, I didn’t play good in the first set.’ I’m not really sure when [I thought I could win], I just believed myself in the third set.” 

Samson is the latest Czech player to break through following a sucessful junior career. Last year she won the Wimbledon girls’ doubles title and was runner-up in the French Open singles tournament in June. She is currently No.3 in the ITF junior rankings but has been ranked as high as No.1. 

Earlier this year, Samson decided to change her name on the Tour by dropping the last three letters (ova). The reason why she did so was to avoid getting confused with another player. 

“I first noticed it last year, there was a problem that I was getting strings (the) of Lyudmila Samsonova,” she told tenisovysvet.cz.

“I also talked about it with her and, for example, according to the schedule, she also sometimes thought she was playing, but it was me,” 

“I would have liked the ending -ová, but unfortunately it turned out like this.”

The teenager will next take on world No.248 Oksana Selekhmeteva with the winner of that match progressing to their first WTA semi-final.  21-year-old Selekhmeteva is a former top 10 junior player who came through two rounds of qualifying to reach the main draw. She is a two-time junior Grand Slam champion in doubles. 

There are five seeds remaining in the tournament, including top seed Linda Nosková who will play Germany’s Ella Seidel in her next match. 

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Alex De Minaur Overcomes Injury To Fulfil Olympic Dream

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ASlex de Minaur - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

Alex de Minaur says it is a ‘dream come true’ for him to represent Australia in the Olympic Games after missing the event three years ago.

The world No.6 had been in a race against time to be fit for the Olympic tennis event after suffering an agonising injury setback at Wimbledon earlier this month. At the All England Club de Minaur reached the quarter-final stage for the first time and was set to take on Novak Djokovic. However, he was forced to withdraw from the match after tearing the fibre cartilage in his hip region after suffering a ‘freak’ injury. At the time of the announcement, it was estimated that he would be sidelined from the Tour for three to six weeks. 

However, the 25-year-old appears to have recovered fairly quickly in time for Paris with the tennis tournament starting on Saturday. It will be de Minaur’s debut in the Olympics after he was forced to pull out of the Tokyo Games due to a positive COVID-19 test. 

“To finally be able to represent Australia in the Olympics is a dream come true,” he wrote on Instagram on Tuesday morning.

“I’m very passionate when I play for my country and wear the green and gold, so this is another one of those moments. 

“I’m extremely excited to lace up for Paris 2024.”

De Minaur is bidding to become the first male player from his country to win an Olympic medal in the singles event. He has already won two ATP titles this year in Alcapulco and s-Hertogenbosch. Since the start of January, he has won five out of 11 meetings against top 10 players. 

“It’s really great news – we’re actually expecting Alex to arrive in the village ahead of the official draw (on Thursday) and we know he’s been working with his rehab team quite extensively since the conclusion of Wimbledon,” Australian chef de mission Anna Meares told the Australian Associated Press (AAP).

“He’s hungry to be here, he wants to be a part of this team and we will offer as much support as we can in that process.

“He’s coming – we will wait to see that process. He still has time … injury can be a really stressful thing for an athlete and the more you rush it, the more problems you can potentially cause.

“We’re leaving it in the hands of Alex and his rehabilitation team … it will be a decision purely by them.” 

De Minaur is one of five Australian men playing in the Paris Olympics. The others are Alexei Popyrin, Matthew Ebden, John Peers and Rinky Hijikata. 

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Wrist Injury Threatening To End Holger Rune’s Olympic Dream

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Holger Rune will have a second medical opinion on Monday before deciding if he is fit enough to play at the Olympic Games, according to his team. 

The Danish world No.17 recently retired from his quarter-final match at the Hamburg Open due to a knee injury. The hope at the time was that his withdrawal would be just a precautionary measure ahead of the Olympics. However, he is also dealing with a second issue that appears to be more serious.

According to TV 2 Sport, Rune has been struggling with a wrist issue and underwent a scan on Sunday which his mother Aneke says ‘doesn’t look promising.’ Aneke is also the manager of her son’s career. Rune’s Olympic dreams now rest on the outcome of a second medical expert that he will visit tomorrow who has a better understanding of the sport. 

“Unfortunately, it does not look promising after the first medical opinion after the review of the scan of the wrist,” Aneke Rune told TV 2 Sport.

“We are waiting for two tennis-specific doctors who will give a second opinion tomorrow (Monday). Tennis wrists look different from regular wrists, so we’ll hold out hope for one more day.” 

Rune is one of three Danish players entered into the Olympic tennis event along with Caroline Wozniacki and Clara Tauson. The country has only won one medal in tennis before which was at the 1912 Games when Sofie Castenschiold won silver in the women’s indoor singles event. 

So far this season, the 21-year-old has won 27 matches on the Tour but is yet to claim a title. He reached the final of the Brisbane International and then the semi-finals of three more events. In the Grand Slams, he made it to the fourth round of the French Open and Wimbledon. 

It is not known when a final decision regarding Rune’s participation in Paris will be made.

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