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Iconic tennis coach, academy founder dead at 91

Nick Bollettieri founded the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy — now IMG Academy — in 1978.

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  • | 9:00 a.m. December 5, 2022
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Legendary tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, the founder of what's today IMG Academy, one of the most prominent youth sports training facilities in the world and a major economic driver of west Bradenton for decades, has died. He was 91.

IMG announced Bollettieri's death in a statement released the morning of Dec. 5.

“Anyone who knew Nick knows how much he loved developing the potential in young people, coaching tennis and this academy,” Tim Pernetti, the president of IMG Academy Bradenton, says in the statement. “Even in his last days, you could often find him on campus, coaching and mentoring young student-athletes and staff with the same passion and enthusiasm as he did in his 20s. Our heart goes out to his wife, Cindi, and his children. He has made a permanent and lasting impact on all of us.”

Bollettieri founded the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy — now IMG Academy — in 1978 with a focus on intense physical training, total immersion and ongoing competition among the most talented players in the world, the release states. Considered by many to be one of the best tennis coaches of all time, he would go on to train, develop and coach 10 world No. 1 players, including Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Jim Courier, Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams and Serena Williams, among others.

In 2014, Bollettieri was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In May of 2022, he became the first inductee of the IMG Academy Hall of Fame.

“Tennis wouldn’t be where it is today without Nick’s influence,” says Jimmy Arias, IMG Academy director of tennis and one of Bollettieri’s original students. “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.”


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