Pioneering tennis coach and owner of his own academy Nick Bollettieri died on 4th December at the age of 91. He pioneered the concept of a tennis boarding school, and helped develop many leading tennis players during the past decades, including Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Monica Seles, and Mary Pierce. He also worked with players such as Maria Sharapova, Daniela Hantuchová, Jelena Jankovi?, Nicole Vaidišová, Sabine Lisicki, Sara Errani, Tommy Haas, Max Mirnyi, Xavier Malisse, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Martina Hingis, Anna Kournikova, Marcelo Ríos, and Kei Nishikori. Bollettieri was also a tour traveling coach, the last time having been for and with Boris Becker for a span of two years.
Bollettieri never set out to revolutionise the way tennis was coached, let alone become world famous. But over the course of the past six decades, the charismatic former American football player-turned paratrooper, who has passed away aged 91, never stopped learning about the sport. Be it from his time in Coral Gables and onto Victory Park in North Miami Beach; from Synder Park in Springfield, Ohio, the Port Washington Tennis Academy to the Dorado Beach Resort in Puerto Rico and Beaver Dam, Wisconsin; then The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, located in Sarasota, and onto an old tomato field in Bradenton, Florida, his home of the past 40 years.
Born in Pelham, New York, to immigrant Italian parents, he served with the United States Army, attaining the rank of First Lieutenant. In 1956 he turned to teaching tennis after dropping out of the University of Miami Law School. Bollettieri’s first students included Brian Gottfried. His first formal tennis camp was at Wayland Academy in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Bollettieri married Cindi Eaton on April 22, 2004. The same year, they founded Camp Kaizen, a nonprofit fitness camp.