Remembering Nick Bollettieri — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, Dec. 6, 2022

Happy Tennis Tuesday, our first of December! The offseason is usually a time for reflecting and today is no different. Though he was shown to be in declining health recently, Nick Bollettieri took to Twitter to say he was in good spirits. However, yesterday the age of 91, Bollettieri — perhaps the most famous tennis coach in history — passed away.

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For a man with limited elite tennis background, Bollettieri would begin teaching tennis following a stint in the US Army. While leading a program at a resort after quitting law school, the idea of opening his own live-in academy popped into his head and he secured a $1 million loan from a friend. From there, the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy was born in 1978 before moving to their current location in Bradenton, Florida in 1981.

Forever a salesman, he would recruit players to join his academy in hopes of being the next great. NBTA — which was later bought by IMG and developed into the 600-acre mega-campus for prep sports — would end up producing or guiding 10 players to the World No. 1 singles ranking, including Venus and Serena Williams, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Jelena Jankovic and Maria Sharapova.

He produced dozens of Top 100 players and Grand Slam champions including Mary Pierce, Tatiana Golovin, Daniela Hantuchova and Anna Kournikova. While the great impact was seen off the court, Bollettieri essentially changed the landscape of tennis forever with his boarding school method. His vision set the current standards you see at the USTA National Campus, the Rafael Nadal Academy and Mouratoglou Tennis Academy. Bollettieri envisioned a place where players can get a lot of exposure — in media, of course, but to countless game styles from players from all over the globe.

The NBTA was a tennis haven built on tomato fields and still hosts the Eddie Herr International, a famous ITF Junior World Tour tournament held last week. Sure, he hasn’t produced a top talent in nearly 20 years, but he was still giving incredible insight to all levels, all over. He helped change the game from where all players played alike to championing players to think and play different — on the baseline, aggressive and on the rise.

In 2014, Bollettieri’s impact led him to the International Tennis Hall of Fame — one of 13 Hall of Fames where he’s included. What he lacked in technical training, he doubled in motivation with experience from his military days. He forever shook the tennis landscape and changed the sport’s trajectory. One has to think: where would tennis be if Nick Bollettieri didn’t exist?

Fortunately, we’ll never know.

Thank you, Nick.

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This Week in Women’s Tennis

Alycia Parks has been touted as one to watch for quite some time and her game on fast/indoor surfaces reached their peak at the WTA 125 Crèdit Andorrà Open. Parks defeated Rebecca Peterson for the biggest title of her career and a surge into the Top 100. In doubles, Cristina Bucsa and Weronika Falkowska defeated Angelina Gabueva and Anastasia Zakharova to capture the biggest title of their careers as well.

A massively tight women’s doubles match helped Team USA take home the Master’U BNP Paribas, an international collegiate team competition. Their tight 4-2 win over Great Britain secured the Red, White and Blue their 9th title in 10 years.

Five at The IX alum Lauren Embree was the feature of this profile talking about her journey from collegiate tennis to professional tennis and then becoming the assistant coach at her alma mater, Florida.

2022 was quite the year for tennis’ foundation. From vaccine mandates to a ban on Russia/Belarus, one has to wonder how much this year will impact the future of the sport.

King Charles awarded Emma Raducanu the honor of Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). Meanwhile, I celebrated my dog’s 5th birthday yesterday.

Armed with a YouTube plaque dedicated to 100,000 subscribers, Venus Williams says she’s aiming to play tournament tennis in 2023:

Angelique Kerber announced Newkee, a skincare line she’s teamed up with Bayern Munich goalie Manuel Neuer that emphasizes greatly on preventing sun damage to the skin.

Brandon Burke, a former collegiate player for Brown University and current attorney, hopes to use his positions on the Women’s Tennis Benefits Association and WTA Charities Board of Directors to inspire more tennis players out of Jamaica, for who he played on their Davis Cup team.

Former USTA President Alan Schwartz, a large presence behind the organization’s comeback with projects like the US Open Series and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, has passed away at the age of 91.

Sloane Stephens joins Danielle Collins as an early commit to the inaugural Austin Tennis Open, a WTA 250 tournament set for the end of February.

Iga Swiatek and others have officially started their preseasons, so it’s game on for 2023!

One name to keep an eye out next season is Czech Sara Bejlak, who’s the second-youngest player in the Top 200.

Tweet of the Week

Yes, this isn’t WTA-related and yes, it’s a self-plug, but there could be a major breakthrough for LGBTQ+ representation in men’s tennis. Though there is no confirmation or denial — as of now — but hopefully Fabien Reboul and Max Broville aren’t trolling us.

Five at The IX: Reactions to Nick Bollettieri’s Passing

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Joey Dillon