“I wanted to get into the big municipalities,” he said. “I got the job in Springfield in 1959, and it was one of the top tennis cities in the U.S. We used to get 300-500 children on Wednesdays and Saturdays for free lessons. It was terrific. It helped me a lot. I learned a lot.”
Bollettieri resigned from the Springfield job in 1962 to take a job at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md., but returned in 1963 at the age of 32 when Charles Fry, chairman of the Springfield Country Club tennis commission, hired him as the head pro there.
“We are pleased to have Nick back in Springfield,” Fry told the News-Sun in April 1963, “and feel it is a fine opportunity for the youngsters to work with such an outstanding teacher.”
After leaving Springfield, Bollettieri went on to coach 10 No. 1 players in the world: Andre Agassi; sisters Serena and Venus Williams; Boris Becker; Jim Courier; Monica Seles; Maria Sharapova; Marcelo Rios; Martina Hingis; and Jelena Jankovic. He opened the opened the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy near Bradenton, Fla., in the early 1980s.
Robin Fry, who won a state singles title as a junior at North High School in 1967, benefitted from Bollettieri’s expertise long before they did.
“Nick was a real Florida guy,” Fry told the News-Sun in 2010. “He had a big, long Oldsmobile, and he’d put you in the back of that car and drive 100 miles an hour to a tournament. It was wild. You just played a lot.”