May/17

10

Bollettieri Suggests How He’d Like Book About NBTA To Be Written

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By Scoop Malinowski

For a few years now I’ve been pondering doing a book about the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy’s vast history. And now the vague embryonic concept has suddenly become much clearer and distinct. Thanks to the man himself who founded the historic tennis landmark which has so greatly altered and enhanced professional tennis.

At the recent Elizabeth Moore Sarasota Open, I sat with Nick watching the Frances Tiafoe vs Tennys Sandgren final and after discussing Jim Pierce’s recent passing and Nick’s tactics for Venus vs Steffi Graf, I commented an interest about doing a book about Nick’s renowned academy because there is so much history there and so, so many stories and anecdotes associated with the place.

Bollettieri liked the idea. “What would make your book interesting is just to get about fifty of the stories of the players. All of the players, like Jim Courier…let them tell you the story. Martin Blackman…Kathy Horvath…Carling Bassett…let them tell you. And let them tell you the influence  that I had on their life. And get some (stories from players) that are now lawyers, famous lawyers and business leaders. But, see, to me, that’s the way to do one helluva book. Is that people tell you the story. So then nobody can say it was wrong.”

The vision was becoming clearer now. I would do the book like my book about Marcelo Rios: The Man We Barely Knew, which I had interviewed Nick for and devoted an entire chapter of the book to Nick’s perspective on Rios.

Bollettieri always compliments me for the Rios book and he did again on this day. “The Marcelo Rios book was excellent. That’s how I’d like to see this book done. Rios had probably the most talent of any student that I had. Talent alone doesn’t make you a champion.”

I have heard so many incredible, larger than life, entertaining, amusing, stunning, hard to believe stories about or that happened at NBTA that to work on this book is a thrill just to think about. From the tales about the billionaire sultan skipping out on his bill for using the academy and coaches for three months, to Rios nearly getting into a fistfight with Major League Baseball star Orlando Merced, to Jim Courier having to pick weeds after a water gun fight, to … who knows how many other incredible stories will be unearthed in the process of creating this book?

Just about every top figure in tennis has been to NBTA. Although Roger Federer has not – “It’s one of the great regrets of my career” – however Nick did say that Federer’s presence actually is at the IMG Academy today. Nick told me that Federer and Pete Sampras both wrote letters to the Hall of Fame recommending that Bollettieri be inducted and those two letters are on the wall of Nick’s Museum at the Academy.

I am greatly looking forward to doing this book and interviewing Andre Agassi, Monica Seles, Mary Pierce, Jim Courier, Jimmy Arias, Kevin Arias, Kei Nishikori, Yoshihito Nishioka, Tommy Haas, Maria Sharapova, Jelena Dokic, Max Mirnyi, Venus and Serena, Lleyton Hewitt and all the players who surely can share their memories and stories about playing tennis at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 comments

  • Thomas Tung · May 10, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    That should be one heck of a book, Scoop — looking forward to it! The stories from the guys who didn’t go pro, or who never made it big, should be as fascinating as the stories of those who did.

  • Dan Markowitz · May 10, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    Might be hard to get Agassi, Sharpie and Venus/Serena for interviews. I’d be wary of getting too close to Nick on this project as you want people to talk openly about Nick, the pros and the cons.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 10, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    Thank you Thomas for your continued supportive positive comments about my books – much appreciated – You are right and I surely will interview the lesser known players as they always deliver quality different unique perspectives which compliment the big stars nicely – Sometimes some of the best content comes from people you never heard of -

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 10, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Dan for those people I can always ask questions at press conferences – Agassi is being rumored to be the next coach of Djokovic which means he could be around the majors – I will surely get positive and negative perspectives about the NBTA and like all my books I will include them – Though Im pretty sure most players will have fond memories and positive nostalgic memories of the historic tennis playground -

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