2014 US Open finalist Kei Nishikori paid tribute to Nick Bollettieri as he is grateful to his former coach for helping him achieve his tennis dreams. Nishikori, 32, was 14 when he went to Florida to train at the IMG Academy – the academy founded by legendary coach Bollettieri.
On Monday, IMG Academy announced that Bollettieri passed away at the age of 91. “Nick, thank you for giving us lots of motivation. Many players have bloomed thanks to you, I’m one of them, really grateful for that.
No matter how you got old, your love & passion for tennis never changed, that was lovely to see. RIP,” Nishikori said.
.@keinishikori to #NickBollettieri
Nick, thank you for giving us lots of motivation. Many players have bloomed thanks to you, I’m one of them, really grateful for that.
No matter how you got old, your love & passion for tennis never changed, that was lovely to see.
RIP pic.twitter.com/4i3vJGLvH3 — 井蛙堂 (@seiadoumogera) December 6, 2022
Bollettieri helped Nishikori achieve his tennis dreams
When Nishikori was 14, he was considered a big talent and Bollettieri was interested in working with the Japanese.
Nishikori eventually became a pro and quickly started making notable results. In 2008, an 18-year-old Nishikori won the Delray Beach Open title as a qualifier. Later, Nishikori made a Grand Slam final and broke into the top-5 in the world.
Bollettieri certainly played a big part in Nishikori’s development as the Japanese has always spoken very highly of his former coach. In November, it was reported that Bollettieri’s health was rapidly detoriating.
This Monday, the IMG Academy announced that Bollettieri passed away. “Anyone who knew Nick knows how much he loved developing the potential in young people, coaching tennis and this Academy. 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,” Tim Pernetti, the President of IMG Academy Bradenton said. Bollettieri was deeply respected within the tennis community as many paid their tribute through social media.
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