Tennis Prose




Jan/23

20

Nick Bollettieri: Godfather of Modern Tennis Book Excerpt

After a few years of story, memory and anecdote collecting, I have finally completed my book on Nick Bollettieri. What I have learned is Nick Bollettieri is more fascinating and interesting than many Grand Slam champions, for he created something new and he personally and indirectly touched millions of people’s lives in a positive way….

Andre Agassi: Nick first started with Jimmy Arias, who had the biggest forehand in tennis at the time. Tennis had never seen anything like it. And then (Aaron) Krickstein and Carling Bassett hit so hard, and myself. I think he’s added a lot to the level of tennis as far as a power sense goes with just dominant tennis playing, aggressive playing. And that’s what keeps tennis striving. I don’t know if you’re ever going to see another No. 1 player in the world who is under six feet. Everybody is going to be big and strong. Because you need to be big and strong. And he taught you how to do that even if you weren’t big and strong…

Lars Ulrich (Metallica): In Denmark I was top 10 in the 12s and 14s. Denmark is roughly the size of the West Village. My dad (Torben) was one of the best players in the world. When I finished school in Denmark at age sixteen I went to Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Sarasota, FL (actually Bradenton) the first year it got off the ground. I was one of the kids who didn’t have to go to school because I already finished school in Denmark. I remember Nick would say, “Jump on it, jump on it!” There was a pecking order. Nick spent a lot of time on the main court with Jimmy Arias and those players. I was on court two or three. Nick would come over and say “Jump on it Lars, jump on it!” This is what we spent $20,000 for?! I found out I didn’t have the tenacity to do the six to eight hours of all that shit everyday. I was kind of turned off by the six hours every day of drills and backhand down the lines…

Bob Davis: My first memory of Nick was back in 1981 when I told Arthur Ashe that I was going to open my own private sleepover academy in upstate New York. He recommended that we come to Florida and meet with Nick, who had the foremost tennis academy in the world, to learn the ins and outs of the business. So Arthur and I flew down to Bradenton for a weekend with Nick. His advice to me was – Keep the boys and girls apart. One mistake in that regard can ruin your entire academy.
Question: Lasting memory of Nick Bollettieri?
Bob Davis: My lasting memory of Nick is his generosity and his intent to have his legacy be in support of underprivileged kids. People don’t know that side of Nick. He was inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame – the only Caucasian man inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame – at least to date. And he claims that that is more important to him than his induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Sander Groen, former ATP doubles champion, shared this thoughts and memories of Bollettieri: “He is so beloved because of his personality. There is not too many people with this kind success who are so accessible and kind as he is. The past 20 years he has been like a grandfather to anybody who loves tennis and he makes everybody feel like they are same important to him, no matter if player, coach or fan. And he had nothing to gain from that. Every time I spoke to him he made me feel as if he was my father. And I can imagine he hardly had any idea who I was because I cannot imagine he knew me as a player.”
“I think the last time I saw him he was mingling with the crowd in front of Arthur Ashe Stadium sitting on the edge of the fountains promoting his book… I couldn’t believe that. To me he is the godfather of modern day tennis.”

The book version is $8.99 and the kindle version is $4.99, both available at amazon books

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2 comments

  • Gregg · January 20, 2023 at 6:01 pm

    I watched a cable special on him late one night about 6 months ago. I had mixed feelings about him afterwards. He did apparently dump Carrier for Andre, blatantly putting one student ahead of another. His estrangement from Andre seemed to be more he said he said. Sad though. Still, groundbreaking figure in tennis. Sad to see condition of his academy.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 20, 2023 at 6:08 pm

    Gregg, Yes Nick did make the decision to support Andre vs Courier in that French Open final which backfired as Courier was ignited by the perceived slight and won the title. My guess is Nick was very confident that Andre was going to win and when it didn’t happen, he lost a friend and a top player. Nick and NBTA are more interesting than many Grand SLam champions. So much history, drama and legendary tales happened there.

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