Ask Nick … Long Island Tennis Magazine’s Q&A Forum With Nick Bollettieri (September/October 2013)

Photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo
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Long Island Tennis Magazine has the unique opportunity to pose questions from our readers to tennis coaching legend Nick Bollettieri. Nick has coached 10 world number ones, including Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Jim Courier, Martina Hingis, Jelena Jankovic, Marcelo Rios, Monica Seles, Maria Sharapova, and Venus and Serena Williams, as well as a host of other world-class players, including Tommy Haas, Anna Kournikova, Jimmy Arias and Nicole Vaidisova, to name a few.

If you want to ask Nick questions in a future issue of Long Island Tennis Magazine, e-mail info@usptennis.com with the Subject Line “Ask Nick.”

Question from Steven (Dix Hills, N.Y.) …
I am currently a high school junior and played high school tennis last season. I play number one singles and I am in the top 15 in my Section. I had some real good matches at number one singles and some not so competitive. My outside coach thinks I should not play on the team, but rather, take additional drill sessions and train with him and better juniors every day. I'm conflicted and really not sure because I do love being on the team and hanging out with my teammates. What do you think I should do?
Nick Bollettieri: This is not an easy question to answer, one way or the other, but my suggestion is to consider the following:
►Are you in the best physical shape you can be?
►Why not do both and have your coach video some of your high school matches and then sit and review them?
►There must be specific drilling sessions that your coach should consider, but also have him watch you play practice matches. Review the tape after to see what is taking place when you play.

Question from Judith (New York, N.Y.) …
As a coach what is the biggest indicator that a player has what it takes to make it professionally in tennis?
Nick Bollettieri: I have been a coach for almost 60 years, and it would be difficult to pin it down to only one tip, but here are a few to think about:
►Refuse to lose.
►Never make excuses.
►It’s all about winning. Playing the best you can play is only accepting second place.
►The game today is divided into three categories that you must master: The Technical, the Physical and the Mental.
►Your game cannot have a weakness and you must have one or two weapons.
►Make sure you have a well-selected support team.
►Last and most important, I want a player that will hit the last ball to win.

Question from Jordan (Sayville, N.Y.) …
What about your Academy keeps it as one of the top-ranked training facilities in the nation year after year?
Nick Bollettieri: IMG Academy is the leading training institution in the world because we keep adding new facilities and innovating. We compete with ourselves and never become complacent. We are spending more time on integrating the physical and mental parts of the game than ever before. The IMG Academy Bollettieri Tennis Program has a dedicated staff, directed by Rohan Goetzke, and they work as a team to develop high-performing athletes who can go on to have successful collegiate and professional careers.

Question from Kristen (Merrick, N.Y.) …
Heading in to this year’s U.S. Open, which young American do you feel has what it takes to make a deep run?
Nick Bollettieri: At this time, Pat McEnroe and his USTA staff are making a major breakthrough, especially with the ladies including: Sloane Stephens, Jamie Hampton, Madison Keys, Taylor Townsend, Vicky Duval and Varvara Lepchenko. Of course, we have the best female player to ever play the game in Serena Williams and we all hope Venus can make another run. With the men, there is finally a bit of sunlight coming through. Ryan Harrison, who trains at IMG Academy, has moved down to the USTA Center and is working with one of our former students, Jay Berger. Keep an eye on Ryan’s younger brother, Christian, who also trains at IMG Academy, as he will be special. John Isner, when healthy, can beat the very best. He just won the BB&T Open in Atlanta and hopefully he will get back on top. Don’t put aside Sam Querrey, James Blake or Rhyne Williams. It is also time for Jack Sock to start living up to his very sound game.

Question from Bob (Flushing, N.Y.) …
Roger Federer has dropped out of the top five in the ATP Rankings for the first time in a long time. Do you think he is still capable of winning another major?
Nick Bollettieri: Roger Federer has dropped out of the top five, but in my mind, he has not been eliminated from challenging for another Grand Slam win. His coach, Paul Annacone, is a former student at IMG Academy, and is one of the very best. I am sure you will see Roger playing more aggressively, including serve and volleying, and also coming to the net more and more.

Question from Samantha (New York, N.Y.) …
What are your views on professional player prize money at majors? Do you feel the men’s and women’s purses should be equal or should the men’s be higher because they play three out of five sets?
Nick Bollettieri: I definitely believe that there should be equal money. The men should still play the best of five matches.