Legendary tennis coach Nick Bollettieri has passed away at the age of 91. Bollettieri worked with many tennis players, some of who would become Grand Slam champions. Names like Jim Courier and Maria Sharapova but most notably Andre Agassi.
Bollettieri was known for his almost Spartan way of training and coaching players in Bradenton, Florida, his tennis academy was founded in the late 1970s.
Nick Bollettieri was merciless
Born in New York and of Italian descendence, Bollettieri was merciless, feared no one, and was the sport’s best motivator. Players like Mary Pierce, Boris Becker, Marcelo Rios, and Anna Kournikova all asked for his help at some point in their careers.
The only thing that mattered was performance. His dedication was his power but sometimes he didn’t seem to understand that he was working with vulnerable people, said Richard Krajicek in November 2017 in an interview with a Dutch media outlet after the documentary “Love Means Zero” about his turbulent relationship with pupil Andre Agassi.
“I wanted to be a winner and work with winners”, said Bollettieri about himself in the documentary.
Bollettieri recruited children for his tennis academy in Floriday. He prepared them to be top tennis players one day. It was groundbreaking back in the day. “I broke the rules. I brought them to the academy, and I was the first to do so in the world”, said Bollettieri.
Said Richard Krajicek, winner of Wimbledon 1996: “Train as much as possible with as many kids as possible. That was his philosophy.”
Remarkably enough, Bollettieri didn’t know much about the technical part of the tennis sport but what he lacked in that regard, he made up with discipline and hard work.
Bollettieri as coach of Andre Agassi
Nick Bollettieri became a household name in the late 1980s by having his pupils Jim Courier and Andre Agassi to the world top of tennis. Especially with Agassi, The Vegas Kid, he enjoyed many successes.
Agassi was the more talented one of the two and Bollettieri went all in. He did more often. If you were not good enough you wouldn’t be coached by him anymore. He was tough like that.
Bollettieri named Agassi’s Wimbledon title in 1992 as the masterpiece of his career. The two of them split a year later after a dispute over money. Bollettieri regretted that, he said afterward.
Bollettieri was 91.