Tennis Prose



Biofile Nick Bollettieri Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: Legendary tennis coach and founder of the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, FL. Credited with developing world class champion players such as Agassi, Sharapova, Courier, Seles, Jankovic, Pierce. Has also worked with Haas, Mirnyi, Becker, Malisse, Rios and Vaidisova.

DOB: July 31, 1931 In: Pelham, N.Y.

First Tennis Memory: “Probably down in North Miami Beach. When a person said, Nick, can you show me the eastern forehand grip? So my son’s mother looked at me and said, Go down the street and ask coach Slim Harbett what that meant. I can always remember that. Because I didn’t even know what an eastern forehand was.”

Musical Tastes: “Barry White, Bee Gees – Saturday Night Fever is the greatest album of all time. Billy Ray Cyrus – I was just in Iraq with him.”

Favorite Movies: “I like The Godfather, those type of movies. Goodfellas.”

Favorite TV Show: “Law & Order.”

Last Book Read: “I don’t even know. I don’t read too many books.”

Greatest Career Moment: “Is that God has given me the energy and spirit to continue doing what I’ve been doing. My greatest moment is – know I can continue my career.”

Most Painful Moment: “I think one of them was when I wrote the letter to Andre Agassi. Rather than going out there. That was something I shouldn’t have done. I should have gone out there.”

Favorite Tournaments: “Of course, there’s nothing like the U.S. Open. But I also like the Miami tournament, it’s got a lil bit of everybody, so I always like the Miami Sony Ericsson (now NASDAQ). But I enjoy the Wimbledon and U.S. Open. There’s such a contrast of audience and that’s what makes it very interesting to me.”

Current Car: “I drive Jeep (black).”

Favorite Players To Watch Now: “It’s quite interesting now, to see the Henin and Clijsters comeback. That’s interesting to see. There’s so many matches I’ve watched. What’s interesting was the Boris Becker-Andre match in Davis Cup in Munich was a great match. (Becker won in five after losing the first two sets.) I was there. I enjoyed that match (recently re-aired by The Tennis Channel.) And at that time, the Davis Cup was the Davis Cup. People fought to play on the team. Now you have the same people play on the team.”

Funny Tennis Memory: “Well, not knowing what Andre was gonna wear when he went to tournaments [smiles]. When he was 14-15, you never knew what Andre was gonna dress up in – cutoffs, jeans, lipstick, rouge, hair pinned up [smiles]. So it was interesting. You never knew what he was gonna come out in.”

Embarrassing Tennis Memory: “I haven’t had any embarrassing tennis memories. Embarrassing to me – when I sat in Andre’s box, working with both Courier and Andre. I was embarrassed that I did something like that. (At French Open.)”

Toughest Competitors Encountered: “One of the fiercest competitors that I ever had to play against was Lleyton Hewitt. He was…he fought, he fought. Monica Seles fought. Courier. Sunvabitch, what he lacked, he made up by blood and guts. Nadal. That’s my boy.”

Funniest Players: “Well, if you look at some of the remarks that Boris Becker used to say very quietly. Red (Ayme) and I took Boris over. I went over to Munich and he was a little overweight. So Red went over first to get him into shape. And for the first two or three weeks, I never said anything. Boris turned around and said, Mr. B, can you speak? And I said, Mr. B, when I speak to you, I better know what I’m speaking about. (Becker replied) Mr. B, we’re gonna do well together. That was pretty interesting.”

Childhood Dream: “I just wanted to do the things that came in my head. Didn’t even think about it. Came in my head, do it. So I never thought whether or not I could do it. I just went ahead and did it.”

Favorite Sports Outside Of Tennis: “Golf and football.”

People Qualities Most Admired: “I like being with people that feel they’re a winner.”

More Biofiles like this can be read at

Andre and Monica reconnect with ailing Nick feature

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  • Tennis_Tipster · April 20, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Musical Tastes: “Barry White, Bee Gees, Billy Ray Cyrus – I was just in Iraq with him.”

    Who would have guessed 🙂

  • Dan Markowitz · April 20, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Bollettieri is a fascinating guy on many levels. His story of how he got started teaching tennis in Miami Beach after not having played as a junior is one of the great huckster/passion play/opportunistic tales in tennis’s lore.

    Nick looks more like an alligator these days, and he’s had like 7 wives, but the guy still loves doing what he does and he obviously does it quite well.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 20, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    This was a revised Biofile, I first did a Biofile with Nick back in the mid 90s and still remember he said Saturday Night Fever was the best record ever made, though he didn’t say that last year when we updated it. Night Fever Night Fever…Nick might be right about that, Bee Gees were fantastic.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 20, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    He really does remind of an old school legendary boxing trainer, like Angelo Dundee. Both of them are very enjoyable characters and you can just sit back and listen to all their stories and then when it’s over wish you could hear more.



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