BRADENTON, Fla. — Renowned tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, who founded the IMG Academy and was credited with shaping some of the greatest names in the sport, has passed away at age 91.
IMG Academy announced Bollettieri’s death in a news release and said that he had been working on campus even in his final days.
“Tennis wouldn’t be where it is today without Nick’s influence,” said Jimmy Arias, one of Bolletieri’s original students and the director of tennis at IMG Academy. “His tennis academy, which I had the privilege of growing up within, not only served as a launching pad for many tennis greats but evolved into an institution that has had a profound impact on the development of athletes across many sports at all levels.”
Bollettieri founded IMG Academy, first named the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, in 1978. Over his career, Bollettieri coached 10 world No. 1 players, including Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Jim Courier, Maria Sharapova, and both Venus and Serena Williams. The year-round live-in school is located on a 600-acre campus in Florida.
Bollettieri grew up in New York and became a fighter pilot and served as a paratrooper in the military. After he was discharged, he began giving tennis lessons for $3 an hour while attending law school at the University of Miami, Tennis.com reported.
Despite never being an elite player, Bollettieri was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 2014, the Bradenton Herald reported.
“Now I know how it feels to reach the top of Mount Everest,” Bollettieri said in his acceptance speech at the induction. “May I say, the view from up here is amazing.”
Tommy Haas, a former tennis player with 15 career titles, remembered Bollettieri with a post on Instagram, saying, “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.”
Bollettieri became the first white man to be inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame in 2015, according to the Bradenton Herald. He was inducted for his “legendary commitment to growing tennis in urban and Black communities in the United States.”
Bollettieri was inducted into 13 tennis halls of fame, the Bradenton Herald reported.
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