A Day in the Life of IMG Founder and Tennis Coach Nick Bollettieri

One day with tennis coach and IMG Academy founder Nick Bollettieri.

By Pam Daniel December 1, 2015 Published in the December 2015 issue of Sarasota Magazine

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Photography by Robert Castro


At 84, Nick Bollettieri doesn’t need to stay in the game. After all, he’s already published his autobiography and last year was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The legendary coach, whose little Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, founded on a few dozen acres in Bradenton in 1978, has grown into the sprawling, world-famous IMG Academy, could just enjoy his memories and his life with his eighth wife, Cindi, and their two young sons. But when Bollettieri, as lean and hungry as ever, isn’t crisscrossing the world for tournaments and events, he’s out on the courts at IMG, racing from one lesson and meeting to another, exhorting a new generation of talented hopefuls on to greatness.


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5:25 a.m. “I’m on my way to the first lesson of the day. I like to be one of the first ones on the campus, anywhere between 4:30 and. 5:30 a.m. When it’s quiet like this, I feel the most connected to my baby, the Academy.”


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6:31 a.m. “Alexandra [Raffy] was a few minutes late for her lesson, and I’m telling her to make sure to get here early next time. I’m never late and I expect my coaches and students to be early and ready to go.”


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7:45 a.m. “I’m nutty about fitness. In between lessons, I can pop over to the IMG fitness center—it’s right next to my indoor courts—and do a quick workout and catch up with ESPN news.”


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11:47 a.m. “I’ve got my own reserved table at South Philly Cheesesteaks right down the road.  It’s my own little office with great food. Today I’m with my friends, Ken Merritt and Bob Davis—Bob co-authored my book, Changing the Game.”


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1:11 p.m. “I’m talking to Sofya Zhuk, the Russian who won the 2015 junior girls’ championship at Wimbledon, and her mother. Sofya’s been having some self-doubt, and I’m praising her fighting spirit, how she makes opponents earn every point.”


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3:20 p.m. “That’s Wilson Zhen Xiong Dong, a Chinese boy. Wilson has got good technique and talent, but I want to see him go all out in practice. You have to give 100 percent in practice in order to get better.”


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4:36 p.m. “I’m on the phone finalizing plans for a trip to Colombia. I traveled close to190,000 miles last year.”


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6:02 p.m. “My wife Cindi and I adopted Giovanni [10] and Giacomo [8] from Ethiopia. I make it to as many of their baseball games as I can. They both love team sports. I haven’t been able to talk them into tennis yet, but I’ll keep trying!”


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8:13 p.m. “After a quick shower, I’m ready to watch a little football with the boys. After they go to bed, I’ll stay up until around 11, writing articles, answering emails and watching sports.”


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