LEXINGTON, Ky. (7/24/13) – Nicholas Bollettieri can add a group of Kentuckians to the large list of tennis players he's mentored.
Bollettieri, 81, is an American tennis coach that is credited with helping perfect the game of some of Tennis' greatest players, including Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Monika Seles, Venus and Serena Williams, Anna Kournikova and Marcelo Rios among many others. He opened the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in 1978, which was bought by the International Management Group, or IMG, nine year later.
In light of the Fifth-Third Bank Tennis Championships currently underway, Bollettieri hosted a tennis clinic Tuesday at the Hillary J. Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington, where he gave pointers to tennis lovers of all ages based on their individual skill levels.
“I feel very much home in Lexington,” said Bollettieri. “My wife went to college here. I know Dennis Emory real well and all the present coaches, both former students at the IMG academy.”
With talk spreading of a potential large-scale renovation of the Boone Center in the future, Bollettieri said he's proud to be able to support the goals of the University of Kentucky tennis program.
“Dennis has done such a great job over the years and I want to come up and help him raise this money for the new center,” he said.
Bollettieri has had a long and successful career in the world of tennis. When it comes to mentoring some of tennis' top ranked professionals, he said each player requires different methods of training.
“Each one of them is an individual. So you have to know how to relate to each one. You have to learn how to reach that person, which is far different,” said Bollettieri. “Like with Boris Becker, he liked everything very simple. Monika Seles likes to have it explained in detail. Aaron Krickstein liked to hit a lot of balls, Jim Courier a lot of balls. Everybody is different. But the game today is made up of techniques, the physical and mental part.”
He added that the game of tennis has experienced some profound changes since his early years holding the racket.
“The grips have changed and it's become a physical game. Now, a person on the tour has got to be strong physically and mentally, and not only have great strokes, but you can't play the game by not having a big weapon today,” said Bollettieri. “If you have a weakness, it's tough to make it as a paid professional. In order to make money today, you got to be ranked 60 or 70 in the world, or you don't make too much money.”
Bollettieri gives some advice to young tennis players who dream of playing in the big leagues. He said not to expect to make it straight to the major tournaments, but to take it one step at a time.
“Go to college, because their expectations should be 'Let me try to find a partial or total scholarship to college,'” he said. “Then, if you do well there, then you try the pro-circuit because at the IMG academy now we have 230 full-time tennis players. If three or four percent become a paid pro, we're fortunate.”
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