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The Long Knives of Newport 02/24/2010 - 2:29 PM

53197325 by Pete Bodo

Nick Bollettieri has confirmed that he was bypassed for induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, that odd institution situated in the once-formidable bastion of the America's elites, Newport, R.I. The town was a playground for the rich and well-born of the Gilded age, those Astors and Vanderbilts, whose spectacular stone mansions still line Bellevue Ave., within walking distance of the ITHF. But it was a Navy town for a period as well, and today, as a kind of quirky resort town, it's an interesting hodgepodge of historical and cultural values.

I write "odd" because the ITHF, housed in the Newport Casino, is a shrine still (and appropriately) enveloped in the honeyed glow of the game's patrician roots. But it has striven mightily to remain relevant in the new, Open era (if anything 40-plus years old can be called "new"). Anyone can book a court and play on the grass courts of the Casino, and hosting an unabashedly commercial event like the Campbell's (Soup) Hall of Fame Championships (the ATP 250 that takes place right after Wimbledon), certainly doesn't smack of hoity-toity elitism - although one suspects that one or another Campbell must have at some point put his feet up in one of those spired mansions. Belcourt Castle, perhaps, or Rosecliff?

Actually, it's easy to go all Monty Python on historical Newport, but here's a telling fact that sums up the past hundred or so years in tennis: the tiebreaker wasn't the brainchild of some savvy former player, television executive (although Bob Monsbach of CBS still sacrifices a virgin daily in sheer gratitude for it), or pushy ITF type. It was thought up, promoted (to deaf ears, for quite some time) and ultimately sold to the Lords of Tennis by James "Jimmy" van Alen. Now there was a guy (Jimmy, that is), for whom Belcourt Castle itself might have seemed like nothing more than a cozy guest house somewhere at the back of his property. Somewhere along the line I heard that van Alen was heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune, but I can't confirm that.  But his blood lines certainly were blue.

Van Alen gave the USTA the Newport Casino in 1954, and yet another national landmark was saved from becoming a parking lot (that's the literal truth). Once you get over asking yourself, Why couldn't he give it to me instead?, you can see the beauty in the gesture. Van Alen was what you might call a progressive patrician, in that he was eager to see the game of tennis outgrow places like the Newport Casino, and he wholly supported the idea of opening up the place to the public. That helps put into context his stroke of genius, the tiebreaker. Van Alen's original version was a sudden-death, nine-point affair, with the players alternating two serves each. If the score reached 4-all, the receiver had choice of court in which to take the final serve.

I'm old enough to remember the days when the umpire would take out a little red flag and plant it in the chair, indicating that a tiebreaker was in progress. And at that point, if van Alen was present, he would rise from the chair in his court-side box (he was an elfin man with a shock of white hair and a florid, cherubic face - not exactly an image that evokes the word, "patrician") and rather dramatically wave to the crowd.

There you have it, the old world of tennis helping to shape the new. A very welcome symbol of continuity in a sport that was in some other ways buffeted and torn asunder by professionalism. It's a distinctly American story, I think, and a tribute to flexible society where lines of class and other imposed distinctions (like degree of wealth) are not as clearly drawn or as difficult to cross, one way or the other or even back and forth, as in many other societies.

Which more or less brings us to Bollettieri. I can't for the life of me figure out how he was not selected for induction into the ITHF without pulling at the loose threads dangling in the paragraph above. Bollettieri was nominated in the Contributor category, which acknowledges the value of selected administrators, officials, coaches and even members of the media. The enshrinees in those categories are not selected by a vote (as are those in the "Recent Player" category, to which I annually contribute my own vote), but by an "International Masters Panel" that includes enshrinees as well as "individuals who are highly knowledgeable of the sport and its history." (That's from the HoF's own copy.)

I suspect that this panel is just another variation on the Old Boy Network, and that the long knives of prejudice were out in Newport when it came time to discuss Bollettieri's nomination. Bollettieri has certainly been a controversial figure through much of his career, if less so now. Yet he's always been ignored or villified less for anything he did (presuming we've gotten beyond that simplistic notion that tennis academies are evil incarnate) than for his personal style and image. The genteel selectors presumably don't have a taste for mirrored shades, or for the kind of guy who has sat bare-chested on the balcony of his room in Paris's George V hotel, taking the sun with his portable reflector.

The Contributors category includes a pile of journalists, but few people I can identify by name as coaches (Harry Hopman is an outstanding exception). And I know that a fair number of enshrined contributors lobbied vigorously for enshrinement, while others - Rex Bellamy, anyone? - have been ignored, probably because they didn't push themselves or work their contacts on the panel hard enough.

I point this out because I imagine that one of the impediments Bollettieri faced to enshrinement is that he has lobbied vigorously - he'd love nothing more than to be recognized by the ITHF. One of Nick's better qualities is that he isn't afraid to admit that. But if others have helped promote themselves into the hall, why should Bollettieri be shunned for doing the same? The only real answer I can come up with is personal  prejudice against Bollettieri - something like the animus that kept Graham Greene from being awarded the Nobel Prize for literature (if you believe the literary gossip). That's what happens when a "panel" picks and chooses whom to honor, and whom not.

I'm got going to bore anyone with a recitation of Bollettieri's credentials; they are manifest and multi-faceted. Whether you like his style or not, his track record speaks for itself. But I will make one point that strikes me has highly ironic, given the presumption that Bollettieri's image as a vulgar fellow (in the dictionary sense of the adjective) is an obstacle to enshrinement: Nick has always promoted a Harry Hopman-esque brand of discipline and he tolerates no on-court misconduct. Andre Agassi, his most renowned protege, certainly had his innings as a screwball  early in his career. And look where he stands in the public eye now (curiously, I see a parallel in the "journeys" taken by Andre and Nick). A few other Bolletteri-ites have had their moments, too. But that's all they were. Is there a better citizen of the tennis community than Jim Courier? Or Monica Seles? if you make a list of the most controversial players of this era, you won't find a single Bollettieri protege graduate on it.

In other words, Bollettieri has represented values that can be said to be desirable in and appropriate for a coach aspiring to earn a place in the HoF (although there's no "morality" clause in the nomination guidelines).

Or think of it this way: Bollettieri represents continuity in tennis much more convincingly and even honorably than many of those who deny him admission might like to think. That just adds another insult to injury. It's nothing less than perverse to deny Bollettieri a place in the HoF, and when you look at the names of some people who are in as contributors, and compare their accomplishments in tennis to those of Bollettieri, it just adds to the suspicion that the admissions panel operates in an imperious and self-interested manner, blind to its own mandate.

I'd like to think that Jimmy van Alen himself is rolling over in his grave. The same "traditionalists" who think Bollettieri is too much of a self-promoting showman (while ignoring the conflicts, self-interested motives, or other flaws of some enshrined contributors) also tried to stop the tiebreaker from "ruining" the game.


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Posted by Master Ace 02/25/2010 at 03:31 PM

Greenhopper,
Ernests winning USO are slim and none with 99.99% at none.

Posted by Grant 02/25/2010 at 03:32 PM

"Can anyone think of an uglier, dumber word than 'feminazi'?"

yes, but i don't want my posts to start vanishing too

Posted by sokol 02/25/2010 at 03:33 PM

"I think Youzhny will beat Nole again in the final."

that would be nice, VC, but he has to get to the final first

Baggy-Nole should be interesting

I'm thinking of going to Safin's exo in Atlantic City in April, need to check schedule and ticket prices...

Posted by greenhopper 02/25/2010 at 03:34 PM

I love it when MA brings the funsies.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 02/25/2010 at 03:38 PM

Speaking directly to Pete's article, and his central thesis that the HoF induction committee for the Contributor category rejected Nick Bollettieri for what essentially are political reasons.....

I think we can ask two main questions of each nominee brought before the committee:

1. Were his or her contributions to the game significant?
2. Were those contributions positive in nature?

In other words, did the efforts and work of the nominee propel the sport forward in an decidedly positive direction? And on this note, I think Mr. Bolletierri's contributions can be held up to further scrutiny.

First, has he contributed anything new? If "the tennis/academic academy" is the answer, I'm not sure he was the first. I know he was not first to develop players in an academy-style environment. Jimmy Evert, Harry Hopman and others have done as much. Bollettieri took it to another level, perhaps - he maximized the profit potential of the format.

Second, has his academy propelled the sport forward in an decidedly positive direction? I believe that here we would find the most robust debate. Many would look to a handful of his "pupils" -- Arias, Seles, Courier, Agassi, Haas -- and give a resonding "Yes!" Others would look at that same group - and the thousands of others who never made their names on the tennis court - and shake their heads, "No!" The only thing that seems certain is that after seeing the Jimmy Arias forehand, Bollettieri decided that the surest (and to some of his detractors, the only) way to success on the court is to build a game and strategy around one shot - the forehand, and perhaps more specifically, the cross-court forehand (whethetr hit inside-out or not).

And many people with brains may conclude that this is neither a major innovation or revelation, and certainly not an advancement, as it may have as much to do with the dearth of serve-and-volley and all-court play as the advents in racquet and string technology and the homogenization of surface on the ATP and WTA tours.

Posted by antoinette 02/25/2010 at 03:39 PM

I am very curious to know why all of CL's posts have disappeared? Is CL being "moderated"? and if so what for?

Posted by shamir 02/25/2010 at 03:43 PM

Nick b. does not know how to teach kids how to hit a tennis ball.
if you want to learn how, go see robert lansdorp. this is a simple fact.

Posted by Master Ace 02/25/2010 at 03:43 PM

Friday Order of Play:
* = Subject to be delayed by a few minutes

WTA: Kuala Lumpur at 1 AM - Rodionova vs Kleybanova, Chang vs Bammer and Morita vs Scheepers scheduled
ATP: Dubai at 5 AM - Melzer vs Youzhny
WTA: Kuala Lumpur at 5:30 AM - Dementieva vs Rybarikova
ATP: Dubai at 10 AM - Baghdatis vs Djokovic - LIVE* on Tennis Channel
ATP: Delray Beach at 12:30 PM - Matches to be determined
WTA: Acapulco at 4 PM - Semifinal match to be determined
Mixed: Acapulco at 6 PM - ATP semifinal match(LIVE* on Tennis Channel) to be followed by WTA semifinal match(If Venus wins, her match will follow ATP SF)
ATP: Acapulco at 10 PM - Semifinal match to be determined - LIVE* on Tennis Channel

Posted by Ruth 02/25/2010 at 03:43 PM

I think that, since the moderators haven't yet responded to suggestions that they are selectively eliminating comments, it is possible that they're having a little snooze instead of paying close attention to the blog. :) I don't remember seeing anything objectionable in any of CL's comments, so why would anyone think that she's being selectively censored? Did I miss something?

Posted by Alexis 02/25/2010 at 03:44 PM

I actually like tiebreaks, even though they can be a crapshoot alot of the time.

I'm glad that at the AO, FO, and Wimbledon, you still have to win the 5th set without a tiebreak. I mean, come on... that 16-14 5th set in last year's final was great! It's interesting that even though the USO has a tiebreak in the 5th set, it has yet to decide a mens final (I believe).

Posted by Master Ace 02/25/2010 at 03:44 PM

Friday Order of Play:
* = Subject to be delayed by a few minutes

WTA: Kuala Lumpur at 1 AM - Rodionova vs Kleybanova, Chang vs Bammer and Morita vs Scheepers scheduled
ATP: Dubai at 5 AM - Melzer vs Youzhny
WTA: Kuala Lumpur at 5:30 AM - Dementieva vs Rybarikova
ATP: Dubai at 10 AM - Baghdatis vs Djokovic - LIVE* on Tennis Channel
ATP: Delray Beach at 12:30 PM - Matches to be determined
WTA: Acapulco at 4 PM - Semifinal match to be determined
Mixed: Acapulco at 6 PM - ATP semifinal match(LIVE* on Tennis Channel) to be followed by WTA semifinal match(If Venus wins, her match will follow ATP SF)
ATP: Delray Beach at 7:15 PM - Matches to be determined
ATP: Acapulco at 10 PM - Semifinal match to be determined - LIVE* on Tennis Channel

Posted by Kombo 02/25/2010 at 03:48 PM

Antoinette:
"I am very curious to know why all of CL's posts have disappeared? Is CL being "moderated"? and if so what for?"

CL was sent to a 'Moderation Camp' jk

Posted by Sherlock 02/25/2010 at 03:50 PM

Antoinette, thanks.

Anyone else have posts disappear?

Posted by Tic 02/25/2010 at 03:50 PM

Agreed, it is ugly and dumb when militant feminist words like caveman and neanderthal are thrown around.

Posted by Pspace (Proud Rafaelite since Shakira) 02/25/2010 at 03:50 PM

Slice, I'd add one question to your two:

Is the person worth knowing to future generations of fans and players?

Imo, the point of a HoF is to keep track of the history of the game, and the main "players". If any1 wants to write a history of the late 80s to early 00s and not include NB, then that's a history I prolly don't want to read. Deserved or undeserved he's the most famous coach of this era.

Anyways, as others have pointed out, there are hardly any coaches in the HoF, based on their coaching contributions. If so, NB's exclusion doesn't really matter. I find it hard to believe that Chang is more deserving of a spot than NB...in my interpretation of what a HoF should be.

Posted by greenhopper 02/25/2010 at 03:52 PM

Peg if you are around, you might like this article.
'How Mardy Fish got his abs back' : http://tinyurl.com/yzmv3ek

Loved your photos and captions, just saw them all last night.

Posted by Grant 02/25/2010 at 04:00 PM

"Imo, the point of a HoF is to keep track of the history of the game, and the main "players". If any1 wants to write a history of the late 80s to early 00s and not include NB, then that's a history I prolly don't want to read. Deserved or undeserved he's the most famous coach of this era."

Yup.

Posted by FrmrATPpro 02/25/2010 at 04:02 PM

Ok Mr Bodo, I can't believe your article, considering you should be clued in. It comes down to this? Do I lose total respect for the International Tennis Hall of Fame for enducting the likes of Nick Bollettieri into the Hall? I sure hope not! Not that I want to throw you under the bus...but based on your article I've lost complete respect for you and any value I've ever associated to your writing.

Shameful, honk, honk, watch out for the bus.

Posted by Ruth 02/25/2010 at 04:02 PM

I wonder how many of the 31 existing "contributor" Hall of Famers can live up to SnD's "structured and rigorous" criteria. :) (See my comment @ 5:38 ?? yesterday or JohnC's today or Wikipedia for the list of the honored ones.)

Posted by md 02/25/2010 at 04:03 PM

Who cares it is a completely meaningless award.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 02/25/2010 at 04:04 PM

GH That article re How Mardy Fish got his abs back has just turned me off my Weeties.

Thanks.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 02/25/2010 at 04:05 PM

Pspace, I see where you're coming from, but I'm not quite as quick to call Bollettieri a coach as some others. I'd like to see him "in action" over a week's time with the student before I make that determination. But to be fair, that's not the point, realy. What he has done, without question, is corporatize the tennis academy. And when he sold the academy to IMG Sports, he ensured himself of a lucrative exit strategy, like a good businessman. Is this a positive contribution? Maybe. Will he be remembered? Most definitely. But there are plenty of others who will be remembered who will NOT make iyt into the HoF -- players and others. Marcelo Rios comes to mind. Ion Tiriac is another who will likely be a controversial nominee.

Posted by greenhopper 02/25/2010 at 04:06 PM

AM, but it's commendable from a guy who once said his favorite dish was rice-a-roni.

Posted by BrooklynNY 02/25/2010 at 04:08 PM

Nole is done....VC, i think youzhny will win also

He is at an alltime high in ranking...but an alltime low as far as results?

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 02/25/2010 at 04:10 PM

GH Rice-A-Roni that stuff should have been banned.Yuck.

Posted by Yet Another Lurker 02/25/2010 at 04:11 PM

Pspace... don't really have an opinion on Bolletieri's (non)election to the Hall of Fame. He probably should get in.

I'm a little surprised at your views on Michael Chang. You think four grand slam finals less deserving? You think those wins against Lendl and Edberg are less deserving? Gilles Simon claimed he was inspired by Michael Chang, that his slight physique wasn't necessarily an impediment. The growth of tennis in south-east Asia can probably be traced to Chang's success. Asian-Americans acknowledge his success as defying prevalent stereotypes.

Bolletieri's achievements are significant. I think they pale in comparison to Chang's.

Posted by Pspace (Proud Rafaelite since Shakira) 02/25/2010 at 04:12 PM

Slice, hehe, it's probably more a reflection of my standards, but I would certainly have Rios in there (as one of the inventors of the jump 2hbh), and Ion Tiriac as a sort of Don King of tennis. If they're excluded, then I don't really see a big case for NB.

Posted by Ruth 02/25/2010 at 04:13 PM

When, in that famous Wimbledon 2008 final (which some see as the greatest match ever -- I don't!) they began the 5th set with Rafa having won 2 sets 6-4 and Roger having won two TB sets, I thought, "Oh, no, I hope Roger isn't going to win this with 3 TBs; I like both guys, but I'd feel terrible for Rafa if that happened."

Then, I remembered that Wimbledon doesn't have 5th set TBs. Even though having no 5th set TB can make a match end up being more of a "survival of the fittest" than a victory of the better player, this was one time when I was glad that the "no TB in the 5th set" rule was in place.

Posted by Pete 02/25/2010 at 04:17 PM

Ruth/Slice/Pspace: Just finished a post and dropped by to catch this discussion.

First, JohnC, despite the way he came after me earlier, apparently didn't actually read the criteria for inclusion in the HoF as a Contributor, which is odd because it's in the post as well as on the HoF website, although you have to dig around to find it (I did, just to double check).

Now if you look at the "Contributors" who made it in (I can identify many,just by reading an alphabetical list of the enshrinees), you might find yourself asking, as I did, how such-and-such got in, while NB did not.

I didn't want to get into too many specifics, though,because it would mean violating too many confidences and embarrassing or offending too many people with whom I have to rub elbows on a regular basis.

If nothing else (and new post address all the other "elses"), the simple opportunity Nick gave to so many who went on to become great pros makes inclusion a no-brainer for me. Just ask any of the 25 or so top 10 pros he helped develop.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 02/25/2010 at 04:18 PM

I also read where Simon was inspired by Chang,mmmmmm.I find that rather surprising French juniors are drilled in the "technique" rather than running every ball down.

Posted by Pspace (Proud Rafaelite since Shakira) 02/25/2010 at 04:18 PM

YAL, I wouldn't say less deserving. I'd say about the same. Chang should prolly go in there just for throwing in an underarm serve against Ivan at RG. But, in my head (not that it's worth much), I'll prolly remember NB more than Chang, Ivanisevic, or Roddick.

And, crediting Chang for the growth of tennis in SE Asia seems like a bit of a stretch to me.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 02/25/2010 at 04:20 PM

Pete I agree with you there.One has to look at Nick's overall record.I feel it speaks for itself.

Posted by Yet Another Lurker 02/25/2010 at 04:20 PM

aussiemarg... I find it hard to believe anyone would want to emulate Chang's game. Maybe Simon just meant Chang's spirit inspired him. That there were many ways to win in tennis, not all of which had to do with superior athleticism or talent.

Posted by VC 02/25/2010 at 04:22 PM

"When, in that famous Wimbledon 2008 final (which some see as the greatest match ever -- I don't!) they began the 5th set with Rafa having won 2 sets 6-4 and Roger having won two TB sets, I thought, "Oh, no, I hope Roger isn't going to win this with 3 TBs; I like both guys, but I'd feel terrible for Rafa if that happened.""

Nadal won that match in the fifth deservedly because he was the better player in the end, but it's not as if Federer squeaked out the two tiebreak sets and got thrashed in the others. Every single set was extremely close. Federer was leading on points after the third set, and found himself still trailing two sets to one. The match was even on points going into the fifth set. That match was extremely close because both players were playing at a very high standard, not because Nadal choked, or rain delays or anything.

Posted by Alexis 02/25/2010 at 04:22 PM

Ruth, your 'tiebreak' post about the Wimbledon 2008 final reminded of that Sampras/Agassi classic QF match at the USO where there were NO breaks of serve. It was 4 tiebreak sets with Sampras winning. Not easy for Agassi to lose a match where he never lost his serve.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 02/25/2010 at 04:23 PM

LOL!!! methinks a bit of talent goes along way

Just look at Federer.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 02/25/2010 at 04:24 PM

If you take a look on Wikipedia as to who is in the Contributor category, its basically a couple of sub-categories (i) writers, (ii) "officials" --in the sense of members of either the ATP or, say USTA or Tennis Australia -- who were responsible for major improvements Slew Hester of the USTA is presumably in there because of the move from Forest Hills to the BJKUSTANTC, (iii) a couple of coaches, and finally (iv) promoters most notably Mark McCormick of IMG.

There is hardly anyone on the list who began their career after the 1968 open tennis revolution. You could further define a category to include "those who nurtured pro tennis during its infancy"

It would not bother me one way or the other to see Bollittieri admitted, but I don't really see much of a massive argument for his admission.

Although, like many of Pete's columns, it does provide food for thought on a slow news day.

Posted by tennisesq. 02/25/2010 at 04:27 PM

CSN up 3-0 on Dulko.

Ferrer down 1-3 to Cuevas.

Posted by Master Ace 02/25/2010 at 04:28 PM

Ruth,
One thing most people do not realize that Roger led 4-1 in the 2nd set(I believe) only to have Rafael come back like he did in Hamburg earlier that year(Roger led 5-1 in first set). Also, Roger led each set against Rafael in Monte Carlo.

Posted by Peg 02/25/2010 at 04:28 PM

'hopper, thanks for the Mardy article. Nice to read about his team being so supportive, too.

And I'm glad you enjoyed the Memphis photo albums. :-) Hard to believe that was just last week. *heads back into manuscript-markup-o-rama*

Posted by Master Ace 02/25/2010 at 04:29 PM

Alexis,
Also at Wimbledon, Stefan Enberg lost in 4 sets to Michael Stich without losing serve and breaking Michael in the set he won.

Posted by Yet Another Lurker 02/25/2010 at 04:32 PM

Pspace... it might be a stretch but I imagine seeing Chang win the French Open would have won many converts in South East Asia among people seeing a champion who looked like them in a sport with hardly any players, never mind winners, who looked like them. I stress southeast Asia because, of course, India has a longer tennis history, with many fine players if no French Open champions.

I saw a piece on ESPN by Greg Garber a few months ago in which people like Courier, Todd Martin and Paul Annacone were quoted saying how important and inspiring Chang's win at the French was to that generation of ultimately superior players.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 02/25/2010 at 04:33 PM

"If nothing else (and new post address all the other "elses"), the simple opportunity Nick gave to so many who went on to become great pros makes inclusion a no-brainer for me. Just ask any of the 25 or so top 10 pros he helped develop."

Yes, on this score I would agree with you, Pete.

Posted by Carol ("Rafa") 02/25/2010 at 04:33 PM

Hola everyone!!

VC, I agree with your last comment about the final match Wimbledon 08

Talking about Winter Olympics, I hope tomorrow Apolo wins. Don't ask me why but he reminds me to Rafa and more when he is talking in the interviews

Posted by Sherlock 02/25/2010 at 04:33 PM

"Also at Wimbledon, Stefan Enberg lost in 4 sets to Michael Stich without losing serve and breaking Michael in the set he won."

Great call there, MA. That was one painful day from my youth. :) Stefan gets the only break and loses the match. Grrrr.

Posted by Ruth 02/25/2010 at 04:35 PM

Thanks for your 4:17, Pete. As you may have guessed, after reading your post, I went to the HOF site to check the criteria for inclusion as a contributor in the HOF; then I looked at the contributor list in Wikipedia. And what I saw simply reinforced my amazement that NB was not already a member of the HOF.

(I have to look up the Swedish king's contributions via Google -- just because I'm fascinated by his inclusion, which is probably totally deserved. I don't pretend to be an expert on all tennis history.)

Posted by Corrie 02/25/2010 at 04:35 PM

NB has had some champions come out of his regime, but also thousands who weren't - and what happened to them? Reading Agassi's description of the place - combination of a Dothebys Hall, Lord of the Flies type of bootcamp, it probably damaged as many as it helped, including Agassi himself, especially as the education was inadequate to prepare them for anything else. Sure, Agassi was jaundiced about the whole experience, but it would be interesting to survey the myriads of othes who didn't "suceed".

Posted by ericinphilly 02/25/2010 at 04:39 PM

afternoon all!! anyone know if Venus' match has started yet at acapulco? if so can

someone give an update please.

Posted by Alexis 02/25/2010 at 04:40 PM

Yeah, no doubt losing a match where you never lost serve and/or a match that was basically decided in tiebreaks is tough... but I still like tiebreaks. They are exciting. One of these days a USO final is going to be decided in a 5th set tiebreak... an oh, that is going to be a heartbreaker for the loser.

Posted by Ruth 02/25/2010 at 04:41 PM


"One thing most people do not realize that Roger led 4-1 in the 2nd set(I believe) only to have Rafael come back like he did in Hamburg earlier that year(Roger led 5-1 in first set). Also, Roger led each set against Rafael in Monte Carlo."

I think that it really be sad if, becuase of injuries or whatever, we weren't able to see that Rafa again in years to come, not just against Roger, but against excellent players of Rafa's own age in the future.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/25/2010 at 04:45 PM

I remember Agassi as having some positive things to say, as well as negative. And I feel like some of Agassi's problems with the place were coloured by his own conflicts around disciplined-ness and hating tennis. But it's a while now since I read the book, & I might well be mis-remembering slightly.

Posted by london 02/25/2010 at 04:47 PM

anybody know what time venus plays????

Posted by ladyjulia 02/25/2010 at 04:49 PM

MA,

The 2nd set lead at Wimby 2008 is a very painful memory.

Everytime Roger loses a set being 5-1 up (on his serve) or having the lead, I have the unmistakenable urge to throw something and find another fave to root for. I also want to throw something when the number of breakpoints converted are 1/17 or 1/13 or something like that.

Its just plain torture.

Posted by Pspace (Proud Rafaelite since Shakira) 02/25/2010 at 04:49 PM

YAL, I see your point, of course. But, it's one of those things that's hard to substantiate either way. Yep, he was the first GS champ of that particular ethnicity, but he always seemed more American to me. Perhaps a little less than Tiger Woods, but I don't really think of Chang as Asian.

In any case, he's tried/trying to influence player development in China (?) with limited to no success. I believe he was coaching and was subsequently fired by some WTA pro.

Anyways, I don't really have any strong feelings associated with Chang.

Posted by Ruth 02/25/2010 at 04:51 PM

"One of these days a USO final is going to be decided in a 5th set tiebreak... an oh, that is going to be a heartbreaker for the loser."

Alexis: The only thing that would make it less of a heartbreaker for me would be if, as I indicated in my earlier comment, the preceding 2-2 sets were all non-TBs. But I'd still feel a little sorry for the loser.

Posted by Pete 02/25/2010 at 04:51 PM

Slice, Ruth, et al - you know, it really is touching to see how many of these guys (Tommy Haas, who isn't exactly a loser, is a good example) just plain love Nick. Max Mirnyi, of all people is practically his right-hand man. And some people actually wept when they played Andre's video tribute to Nick at the recent academy anniversay party. Maybe the key thing is that he has provided real, significant, otherwise unattainable opportunities to just scores of players.I've found that in general the less people know about NB or his players (and their attitudes about him), the more likely they are to see him in a negative light.

Posted by Pete 02/25/2010 at 04:52 PM

BTW: Stefan Edberg's comment upon hearing that Jimmy van Alen died: "If it weren't for him, Michael (Stich) and I would still be playing that (Wimbledon) match."

Of course, he meant the one Edberg lost without having his serve broken even once.

Posted by greenhopper 02/25/2010 at 04:56 PM

Heavens. Pablo was up 5-2 serving for the set and Ferru has now evened things at 5-all.

Posted by tennisesq. 02/25/2010 at 04:59 PM

ericinphilly & london,
Vee is scheduled after Verdasco-Monaco (which is "Not Before 5:00).

http://abiertomextenis.com.mx/programa_diario.html

Posted by ericinphilly 02/25/2010 at 05:01 PM

tennisesq: thanks for the info. i could have sworn last night she was scheduled

to play at four but i guess they changed it. couldnt check it at work..

Posted by VC 02/25/2010 at 05:02 PM

Playing tiebreaks is a test of skill and nerve, like everything else. I definitely don't see it as a lottery. If you want to eliminate the concept of big points, you might as well make them serve 100 points each and count who won more at the end.

Posted by Alexis 02/25/2010 at 05:12 PM

Master Ace wrote: "One thing most people do not realize that Roger led 4-1 in the 2nd set(I believe) only to have Rafael come back like he did in Hamburg earlier that year(Roger led 5-1 in first set). Also, Roger led each set against Rafael in Monte Carlo."

Ruth wrote: "I think that it really be sad if, becuase of injuries or whatever, we weren't able to see that Rafa again in years to come, not just against Roger, but against excellent players of Rafa's own age in the future."
_______________
No offense, but I hope I never have to witness Roger blowing any more set leads to Rafa! :) Who knows? Maybe 2010 will see both Roger and Rafa finally past their illness/injury woes and at their best.

Posted by Jenni 02/25/2010 at 05:14 PM

Yikes, Ferru wins 5 straight games to take the set 7-5. Sucks for Cuevas, but yippee.

Posted by greenhopper 02/25/2010 at 05:14 PM

Whatever, Ferru. Nice tournament still for Pablo, I guess.

Posted by Corrie 02/25/2010 at 05:24 PM

That Edberg loss is still painful. He was a favoutite to win Wimbledon that year,and he looked on track after breaking Stich's serve in the first set, but he just couldn't win a single tie break after that. Stich played at a level he rarely attained before or after that Wimbledon win, especially against becker in the final when Becker imploded at the prospect of losing to Stich.

Posted by Ruth 02/25/2010 at 05:26 PM

"but it's not as if Federer squeaked out the two tiebreak sets and got thrashed in the others

VC: Believe me, I'm as aware as anyone that sets that end up 6-6 and go to a tiebreak can be as exciting and eventful as or even more so than a 6-4 set that went 1-1, 2-2 etc until there was a "lucky" break at 5-4.

Pete: Your mention of the opportunities that NB has provided to so many players reminds me of the many times that I've read about players, both American and foreign, who have talked about how happy they were to be "scholarship" students at the academy, students whose parents couldn't afford to pay what others' parents could pay and who (the parents) were given employment at NB's etc etc. Ah, well.

Posted by VC 02/25/2010 at 05:39 PM

Ruth : My point was that the two were dead-even going into the fifth, where the better player deservedly won. The points count reflected that.

Posted by ladyjulia 02/25/2010 at 05:51 PM

VC,

I think at 6 all in the fifth set, each player had won the same number of points at Wimby 2008. If I remember right. It was *that* close.

Posted by greenhopper 02/25/2010 at 06:04 PM

6 double faults. Try a couple more, Pablo.

Posted by london 02/25/2010 at 07:02 PM

hello?

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 02/25/2010 at 11:36 PM

Pete, I will confess to not knowing Mr. Bollettieri. I have met the man, once, and we spoke briefly shoulder to shoulder on his way to his car. I recall four things about that meeting:

1. He was like the Electrolux salesman, hawking his latest gizmo (literally, he tried to get us all to buy a high school tennis team starter kit).

2. He spoke i glowing terms about Tommy haas, whom he thought had the best backhand in the game and who would be the best were it not for a series of unfortunate injuries and personal setbacks.

3. He was completely dismissive of and condescending to anyone (yeah, that would be me) who expressed a strong opinion about the game. (The take away? Only NB's opinions matter.)

4. He admitted to being a football player and not really that enamored of the game of tennis. (Weird, is all I could think, then. Now, I can see how he and Andre could see eye to eye on some level.)

My final word: I am convinced that NB has done some very good things for certain people, especially the players I mentioned in a previous comment but also for some of his staff, etc. He is clearly a man with a vision and a passion. I just happen to be one of those who think his vision and passion are around how to make a buck, and how to convince parents of young players with amazing potential to give their sons and daughters over to his tutelage and guidance for their adolescent years.

If Nick Bollettieri is deserving of induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, then I would argue that so is Peter Burwash, Rick Macci, Rober Landsdorp and Dennis Vandermeer, to name just a few.

Posted by Wendy Grossman 02/26/2010 at 10:47 AM

Legoboy: American commentators may not mention it as often as European ones, but quite a few top players are beginning to come out of the Sanchez/Casal academy in Spain, most notably Kuznetsova and Murray, both of whom have rather varied games. (Kuznetsova may not volley a lot in singles, but she has been at the top in doubles as well as singles and made a fine partner for Navratilova when she was 18.) Bear in mind that for most of the time NB's academy has been open he's had very little competition; he could (and did) go around offering full scholarships to the best juniors he saw, and even if he wasn't a great coach they'd go for the facilities, the opportunities for wild cards, and the exposure they'd get when agents came scouting. (NB's academy is now owned by IMG, btw.)

And of course he could and did hire a coaching staff who have gone on to other successes.

wg

Posted by MR 02/27/2010 at 09:59 AM

Incredible article Peter.

Nick Bollettieri is first and foremost the most accomplished COACH in the game. He has coached 11 number 1 players in the ATP and WTA tours. That in itself is an incredible accomplishment, and I am sure even his biggest critic cannot argue with that. Professional tennis, however, is only a small portion of the impact Nick has had in the sport.

His daily routine also separates him from any other coach in the world. I witness Nick working with every kid (independently of level) attending the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy starting at 5:30am, and his day on court does not stop until 6pm. Over 12 hours a day of contributing, not only to the tennis game of these kids, but also helping shape their overall character.

Yes, it is a shame the HOF is willing to pass on recognizing what Nick has done, but the real legacy has already been left with the thousands of kids and coaches Nick has influenced.

Posted by Barbara Lyne 03/01/2010 at 11:36 AM

It's absurd that Nick won't be in the Hall of Fame. Can we find out who voted and why? I'd be very interested in their reasoning.

Posted by tennis live 03/01/2010 at 12:35 PM

Love this place!

Posted by Pat Harrison 03/01/2010 at 04:21 PM

My name is Pat Harrison. I am writing in regards to Mr. Bollettieri’s omission to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. I am 46 years old and have spent my entire life in the game of tennis, either as a player at the college and professional level, or in my current position as a coach. Upon retiring from playing, I spend 15 years as the Head Director of a private club in Louisiana. I then moved on the spend 4.5 years as one of the Directors at the John Newcombe Tennis Academy in New Braunfels, TX. For the past 1.5 years, I have had the privilege of working with Nick here at the IMG Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. My 3 children, Ryan, Christian, and Madison were the reason for this move. They wanted to advance their tennis to the highest level possible, whatever that may be, without sacrificing education.
Having heard of Nick Bollettieri my whole life but never meeting him, I didn’t know what to expect. I think we all know his list of accomplishments as a coach should easily put him in the Hall of Fame. What most of you may not know and what is most important to a father like myself is the kind of person he is. The examples he sets as an ambassador of the game and the deeds he does that go unnoticed and are not discussed.
When a local 7 year old girl here in the community had a heart attack and was left a quadriplegic, Nick called all the pro’s together and asked for donations to help. He held a local clinic and exhibition with kids in the Academy. He took it upon himself to raise enough money to buy the family a wheelchair accessible van and to help pay for some of the medical expenses.
Last April, my son Christian was originally diagnosed with Bone Cancer and we were making regular trips to the Moffitt Cancer center to figure out what was going on and what to do next. As most places do when they don’t know you, we were being putt off and treated like just another number. Nick called his friend who had made donations to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. He got us in within the week to be diagnosed and have surgery the next day. Fortunately, it was a Bone Infection, and not Bone Cancer. He is now on the road to recovery and will hopefully return to tournaments soon.
If the Hall of Fame is based on merit within the sport alone, then is he is a Slam Dunk. If the Hall of Fame is based on what you give back to the game or contributions you make to society or the kind of person you are then he should have a Hall of Fame by himself.
I would hope in the very near future steps can be taken to right this wrong. If you know Nick as the person I do and not just the coach, this Hall of Fame would be a 100% yes vote on the next ballot.

Posted by CGR 03/03/2010 at 11:10 AM

The best continues to come. Nick has done more for tennis, and will continue to do so. The ones who cast votes obviously are basing votes on sour grapes. Recognize the facts and, let if any, personal feelings aside. I have known Nick for 10 years, and I have become a better coach and person because of what the man stands for. A coach that continues to stay current and allow for growth is one who is not afraid of others and their opinions. Belief is power - and we all should believe. Stop this pettiness and get Nick Bollettieri into the Hall of Fame. Get the coach that all coaches strive to be like - To be the best, care about the athlete, care about the person, and care about this great sport of ours.

Posted by dustyowen 03/03/2010 at 11:12 AM

I think Nick not being in the hall of fame is a result of no other coaches already being in the hall of fame and no standard to be judged. If Nick is the first coach to go in his numbers will be practically unreachable by any other coach so it puts the committee in a situation where they have to know he is deserving but if you set the bar as high as Nick has set it he will probably be the only coach to ever be elected to the hall of fame. The bottom line is he deserves it not only based on what he did in the past but what he continues to do on a daily basis with each and every player he sees and still contributes to like no other can. I work for Nick and if he's not in the hall of fame in the next couple of years it would be the biggest travesty in sports ever no one has ever touched a game the way this man has and been denied entry to the hall. Nick Bollettieri is tennis!

Posted by German A. 03/03/2010 at 11:27 AM

Great article. Leaving Nick out of the Hall of Fame, only shows the ignorance or lack of homework from the selection committee.
What he does on and off the courts has earned him the right to be in the Hall of Fame long ago. He is already there for many of us.

Posted by Juan Herrera 03/03/2010 at 11:28 AM

Being at the Bollettieri academy as a short time student and today working side by side with Nick there is no doubt in my mind the impact he is able to accomplish on every kid and player that he comes to be in contact with. Nick has a unique ability to understand and get the best out of every person, he achieves this because of his determination and commitment to make a positive impact on every kid or player he can possibly reach; through the game of tennis.
Tennis owes Nick, big. Nick already is in the hall of fame of thousands of people who have been touch by the “Nick factor” where he has helped them not only to be champions on the tennis court but in life. It is just a matter of time and maybe a “get it right” trip from the selection committee to the IMG/Bollettieri Tennis Academy and experience what Nick has done, and is doing for the game we all love.

Posted by Greg Hill 03/03/2010 at 12:44 PM

History is being read and it is also being written by Nick Bollettieri. He has been a pioneer and ambassador to the game of tennis in many ways. His concept 'build it and they will come' tennis academy was the first of its kind, and quoting the New York Times the "the mothership of all tennis academies". The Bollettieri Tennis Academy has now evolved into a multi sports academy call IMG Academies. His impact on the style of play utilizing the big Bollettieri forehand to control the center of the court has been used since the early eighties and is still being used by the top players today.
Lets shift gears and bring to light the number of lives he has impacted through his academy, tennis clinics, motivational speaking, charitable work, etc. Your talking about tens of thousands of people. Students who have gone on to be good citizens and help people in their respective community because of the values learned by listening to him speak. Values such as hard work, teamwork, believing in yourself, knowing who you are as an individual, being accountable, and last but not least education. These are traits he instills in his students, employees, and yes even his friends. He has had the priviledge to speak to people in many different realms. Tennis clinics around the globe, schools,many colleges with Oxford included, US Military, troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Corporations. All talking about the game of life and tennis. As Vince Lombardi was to football, as Frank Sinatra was to music, as Marlon Brando was to movies, thats what Nick Bollettieri is to tennis!

Posted by Britta 03/03/2010 at 12:47 PM

This is in reference to Nick not being inducted into the tennis hall of fame, first off " tennis" and " Nick Bollettieri" are synonomous in this day and age, one can't reference one without bringing up the other. Because of the dedication to his tennis academy, Nick has generated interest worldwide to tens of thousands of young players wanting to become the next great champion , inspiring and motivating these young people to work hard and be the best they can be as athletes and individuals. Regardless of the numerous champions that were forged in the fires of the academy , helping kids be champions in their own life through the medium of tennis on the massive scale that Nick has achieved is at least worthy of a place in the Tennis Hall of Fame.

Posted by Jorge Gonzalez 03/03/2010 at 12:49 PM

How can Nick not be inducted into the Tennis hall of fame? He is an ambassador to the sport and has played a major role in the world of tennis. He has contributed so much time and effort to thousands of players of all ages and levels. He has devoted his life to the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, which has produced some of the worlds best tennis players. In addition, the academy has been more like a home to new and upcoming tennis players. It provides the best facilities in the world to train and develop their game. I think it is a profound insult to Nick as well as the tennis world to neglect inducting a legend of the sport into the hall of fame.

Posted by jml 03/03/2010 at 12:52 PM

Nick Bollettieri is about helping the youth of America. There is nothing he would rather have than a bunch of young talented American players like he had in the 70's, 80' and 90's. No one has promoted the sport of Tennis more than Nick Bollettieri in the past 30 years. Anyone from any country in the world can come to the Academy and Nick will give them 100% of his attention to help develop their tennis skills. He works harder at his profession than anyone I have been around or read about. He can motivate and develop talent with the likes of Lombardi, Wooden and Hopman. He has proven himself to be a master coach time and time again over the past 30 years. Until his final days of coaching Nick will develop each students talents to their fullest.He is a Hall of fame Coach and Contributor. His name is one of the most well known in the sport. He has given his life to the development and promotion of the sport of Tennis.

Posted by Wafik bennacer 03/03/2010 at 12:57 PM

to whom it may concern
my opinion is that nick bollettieri should be enducted into the hall of fame
because he is the only who changed the game of tennis a very well known sport today

Posted by Margie Z. 03/03/2010 at 10:22 PM

Be grateful. When athletic history is broken whether you side with it or not, be grateful that you are able to witness that particular ‘chill instilling’ moment or ‘exceptional’ figure. Tennis is lucky to have Nick. In regards to the HOF’s reference to ‘contributing’ to tennis…. If you have been influenced by Nick in your life, then you are sitting at this computer thinking ‘where do I begin!?”
There is not a more dynamic or passionate coach and ambassador for the sport of tennis. Be grateful for the history being made today… Roger Federer’s # 16 Slam, the story of the William’s sisters, and the continued legacy of the greatest coach of the game, Nick Bollettieri.

Posted by paul forsyth 03/04/2010 at 12:06 PM

After all my years with Nick,One thing that I am sure, is the amount of life he has given to the sport. I dont think there is a coach in USA willing to do it anymore. I remember the times finishing practices with Monica at 11:00pm indoors high returns, or having to make a decision between Andre or his first wife (with beatiful home at the beach).Or been second father to Tommy Haas. I wished the voters were the Players or the companies that made millions by always looking to see what he was doing and the new ways of teaching.I think that needs to be a new vote for new people at the IHF. Maybe there is someone that has a grudge with Nick and is not willing to let go!! come on...see the big picture. Maybe before voting just make a simple phone call to....lets see...Jim Currier! or Max Mirni! or Monica Seles! Senrena Williams!Jimmy Arias! or maybe the bus driver at the academy to see how much he has transform there lifes.Ones again Come on Old farts!!!.

Posted by paul forsyth 03/04/2010 at 12:38 PM

After all my years with Nick,One thing that I am sure, is the amount of life he has given to the sport. I dont think there is a coach in USA, willing to do it anymore. I remember the times finishing practices with Monica at 11:00pm indoors high returns, or having to make a decision between Andre or his first wife (with beatiful home at the beach). I wished the voters were the Players or the companies that made millions by always looking to see what he was doing and the new ways of teaching.I think that needs to be a new vote for new people at the IHF. Maybe there is someone that has a grudge with Nick and is not willing to let go!! come on,....see the big picture.Maybe before voting just make a simple phone call to...lets see...Jim Currier! or Max mirni! or Monica Seles! or Serena Williams! or Jimmy Arias! or maybe the bus drivers,coaches,etc at the academy to see how much he has transform there lifes. Ones again come on!let it!! go! sorry for the one before, I wrote the first thing that came to my mind. Sorry !! again.

Posted by Mike DePalmer Jr. 03/04/2010 at 02:07 PM

To whom it may concern,

I am writing this letter in behalf of Nick Bollettieri. Recently the candidates were chosen for induction into the Tennis Hall of Fame. Sadly, Nick was not one of them.

My father, Mike DePalmer Sr, started a junior tennis academy with Nick Bollettieri in 1976. I was a junior, collegiate and professional tennis player at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. At the end of my playing career I worked for Nick for five years. Over the last thirty five years I have seen his contribution to tennis.

In the early days he went to every junior tennis tournament and was always available to help any player that needed help. He was always the last one to leave the tournament at the end of the day. He gave many scholarships to kids that would otherwise would not have been able to afford to play and compete with other kids. In fact, it was not unusual for Nick to have four or five kids living at his house while they were training at the academy.

As Nick’s junior players started to do well in tournaments, his academy attracted many kids from around the world. Nick spent countless hours with all of his students, many of which went on to have successful professional tennis careers. Because of Nick’s hard work and diligence the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy has become the gold standard of tennis academies in the world.

Nick has helped tennis at every level. Nick partnered with Arthur Ashe to develop inner city tennis programs for underprivileged kids. He invented “Tennis In A Can” to help high school tennis coaches develop their players and help them implement more programs to get more kids interested in tennis at the high school level. Nick has also been invited to speak at many top universities around the world about the sport of tennis.

Nick Bollettieri has become one of the most visible and recognizable tennis coaches in the last half century contributing much to the betterment of the sport and deserves to be honored in the Tennis Hall of Fame.

Sincerely,

Mike DePalmer, Jr.

Posted by stenelli 03/06/2010 at 06:58 AM


Nick took young talent from around the world and made a fortune. For the few stars it produced, has anyone exposed the underside? All the no talent kids he took tens of thousands of dollars from? To induct someone like that into the Hall of Fame? Baseball won't induct a gambler, should tennis induct a swindler?

Posted by Aurelio Andrade 03/07/2010 at 09:52 PM


I take this opportunity to say that it is very hard to believe that Nick Bollettieri has not been recognized the person who has done for the tennis the best for all the people who practice this sport.

We as all the persons who know Nick very well, are sure that he will get that award this coming year, because he really deserved it.

Posted by sscraig 03/18/2010 at 06:47 PM

I've been privileged to have known Nick for over 50 years,he was my first tennis pro when I was just 8 yrs.old. He started out at the public courts in North Miami Beach when there was no money in tennis, just the love of the game. As a junior I won numerous titles, Fla. State, Nationals, Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl. I've always been proud of the fact that I was one of Nick's first students and that he has always remained a kind, generous and loyal friend. I consider him to be one of the most well known coaches in tennis and believe he deserves to be inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame. The lessons he taught me so many years ago have stayed with me throughout my life. I've enjoyed a life in tennis through teaching, coaching college and playing in leagues. Now having my sons and grandson all playing tennis. When Nick heard I was ready to start back with my tennis after long illness he made he made sure I had a new racquet before starting. Nick has done a lot good behind the scenes that many never hear about. He deserves to be in the Tennis Hall of Fame.

Posted by buy viagra 04/27/2010 at 08:56 PM

I am really excited to see the world cup games, I think this world cup will be full of good players, good celebration, culture diversity and I would like to be there.

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