If you have been around tennis, you have most likely heard of Nick Bollettieri and his profound impact on the game, and more specifically college tennis. He passed away at the age of 91.
As one of the sport’s greatest coaches, Bollettieri was a pioneer for tennis academies, opening the famed Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida in 1978 which would welcome Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, the Williams Sisters, and numerous other top professional players. He also coached many college players, including ones seer who have gone on to great careers as outstanding college coaches.
“Nick Bollettieri was a force of nature, a passionate tennis advocate,” said Dr. Timothy Russell, Chief Executive of the ITA. “Everyone who knew Nick can share countless stories about him. For example, he had been a large part of ITA Conventions since the inception of the event, attending regularly for more than 30 years. Before the pandemic, the last time he came to Naples, FL to speak to our coaches, he brought signed copies of one of his books for everyone in attendance. What a life he lived and a legacy he left.”
Bollettieri was a longtime supporter of college tennis and helped raise the scope and popularity of many ITA national events through his support. Bollettieri and the Bollettieri Tennis Academy hosted the ITA National Intercollegiate Clay Court Singles Championship in 1986 to provide more opportunities for collegiate players.
Additionally, Bollettieri was also a strong supporter of the ITA Awards program, hosting many ITA Collegiate All-Star Teams and other ITA National Award winners to a weekend celebration in New York which has become an ITA tradition.
“Nick was an extraordinary individual with boundless energy and enthusiasm and for four decades a great friend of college tennis and the ITA, ever since hosting the first Executive Committee meeting at the Bolletteri Academy at the Colony in 1979,” stated ITA Chairman Emeritus, David A. Benjamin. “I will miss him greatly.”
Bollettieri’s impact on college tennis and all of tennis will be felt for generations to come.