meet plane jumper, nick bollettieri


By Benjamin Snyder

Ripped. Because we know how much you want us to tag this post as “shirtless.”
(Photo by Art Seitz)

Nick Bollettieri 
coaches tennis just about better than anyone else. That, however, isn’t quite enough for the soon-to-be 80-year-old.The former paratrooper needs a little more excitement in his life, planning to jump off a plane the day after he hits octogenarian status this summer. It’ll be the first time for the New York-native since 1975. He’ll do the deed (jumping from a plane, that is… ) with the Army Black Knights at West Point. Now that’s quite a divvy way to spend a birthday, isn’t it, Nick?

Bradenton.com shares the juicy deets: “He lives a whirlwind life that never stops. One of his biggest moments will come when he jumps out of a plane this summer with the Army Black Knights at West Point. It has been 36 years since the then-first lieutenant did his last jump. But as it is in his life, fear does not hamper him.” The article comes just as Bollettieri accepted recognition for fending off cancer at the annual Dick Vitale Gala, an event that raises money for cancer research.Dickie V, an American basketball sportscaster, also had some choice words to say about Bollettieri’s inclusion into tennis history (or, rather, lack thereof), according to Alan Dell’s piece. He’s quoted as saying, “One of the biggest injustices in sports is that Nick Bollettieri is not in the tennis hall of fame. There is a section for contributors to tennis, and there is no one in the world who has contributed more to the game. How they can put contributors in and not Nick Bollettieri blows my mind. It would be the saddest thing if he does not get in while he is living.”

It’s an interesting fact given that Bollettieri has coached ten players who reached the top ranking in the world, including Monica Seles, Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova and Jelena Jankovic. Props to Dell for stirring up some controversy in the article — it’s always nice reading solid, investigative work complete with quotes that sting.

A plate too full? 
Regardless, Bollettieri has a lot else on his plate (probably too much to care), including a website in the works of being launched called Vidaloo Tennis. No, not spelled exactly like the Indian curry dish. But just another testament to the ever-expanding Bolletieri/IMG brand. So far the site is both barren and weird (can it be both?), featuring a 25-second clip from none other than Vitale himself. “It’s going to be a Hall of Fame website,” he yells in his famous commentating voice. Bollettieri says it’ll be the “most content rich” tennis site, aiding everyone from little kids to senior citizens. It was, however, supposed to be up and running on April 1st. April Fool’s?! It’s not yet. Or is that a 2012 date? Hmm…We’ll have to keep tabs on the site’s progress, and see if there’s content by the time Nick jumps off that plane.

Tennis fans everywhere, mark August 1st on your calendars.

why ana’s coach is not sitting in her player’s box



Ok, stop staring at Justine Henin‘s cold sore and look over at Ana Ivanovic‘s player’s box. That’s right — there is no sign of her coach, Sven Groeneveld, hanging out next to her family. He’s been asked by adidas to stay neutral in this match because of his involvement in the company’s Player Development program (which both Dinara Safina and Ivanovic participate in).

The initiative, started in 2006, offers a unique mix of advice and support to both junior and senior players, from coaching tips to hitting partners to nutritional and career management plans. Other pros currently in its stable are Sam Querrey and Sania Mirza. Gil Reyes helps out with off-court training.

flashback: a scruffy roddick at SI’s swimsuit party



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American Andy Roddick took some time out of his busy 2008 schedule (no time for shaving!) to attend last month’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue party. Also in attendance was model Brooklyn Decker, who’s been linked to Andy as of late.

The magazine threw the party at 7 World Trade Center‘s event space. See more photos here.

Scoreline: Andy, who split with coach Jimmy Connors last week, won the 2008 Dubai title this week by beating Feliciano Lopez.

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Good move by Andy to put a dark shirt under that dark blazer.

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But in the interest of full disclosure, we have a thing for religious icons. Here’s how I dressed for Halloween a few years ago.

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More scruff: Dmitry Tursunov was on the same boat in Dubai. He lost in the first round to Richard Gasquet.

short balls: jelena’s new website, santoro to break a record, what happened in singapore, etc.



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Jelena’s website: Jelena Jankovic finally rejoins the 21st century with the launch of her official website. (via WTB)

So, what happened in Singapore? The Maria Sharapova Live! event has come and gone (see Regentville’s review of the event here), and now Singapore is dealing with its effects. To capitalize on tennis-mania, some folks are planning to bring a tourney to the country by 2009. (via WTB)

Lindsay’s GS sched: Lindsay Davenport, this week competing at the ASB Classic, has committed to play only through the U.S. Open, and has announced that she won’t participate in this year’s French Open. (TNZH)

Santoro to break a record: Frenchman Fabrice Santoro, this week playing at the Qatar Open, will break a record he currently holds with Andre Agassi — that of appearing in 61 Grand Slam tournaments. Santoro will participate in his 62nd at the 2008 Australian Open. FYI, his first Grand Slam appearance was at the 1989 French Open. (CNN.com)

Ladies, take notice: Serena Williams came back from the off-season looking fit and trim. This could spell trouble for anyone else trying to win the Australian Open women’s titles (in both singles AND doubles) this year.

Maria’s Mama: We see father Yuri all the time, but never Momma Yelena. She made a rare appearance next to Maria‘s Christmas tree (at her Manhattan Beach pad?). DTL dug up this photo from Masha’s official website.

Plexicushion gets a thumbs down: Players are speaking out against the newly-installed Plexicushion surface at Melbourne Park. But really, Tennis Australia had no choice but to dump Rebound Ace after 20 years of not-so-good results for that country’s tennis future.

In case you’re keeping track: Spaniard Carlos Moya endorses Rolex. (newindpress.com)

…and Andy Murray makes some more additions to his training camp by signing Miles MacIagan (The Guardian)

…and Xavier Malisse does some charity work in between competing at this week’s Chennai Open. (The Hindu)

Enrique’s gift to Anna? Enrique Iglesias, longtime boyfriend of Anna Kournikova spent Christmas Day in a red thong. (Now)

An Australian Open Court: Open Court will leave her Canadian outpost later this month to cover the Australian Open. We can’t wait!

(photo via www.jj-jelenajankovic.com)

'stretch' and mirnyi play doubles + more coaching news: monfils, mathieu, peer, murray



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French No. 2 (and world No. 25) Paul-Henri Mathieu is suddenly coachless one month before the Australian Open — and he’s not happy about it. Mathieu told l’Equipe that he feels like the “turkey being joked upon” (“dindon de la farce“) by being forced to share his coach, Thierry Champion, with the lower-ranked Gael Monfils, who recently returned to Team Lagardère after a 14-month absence. According to l’Equipe Monfils got hooked up with Champion to recreate the partnership that saw Monfils reach No. 23 back in June 2006.

Since Mathieu didn’t want to share (and rightfully so), Lagardère head Rémi Barbarin is actively searching a solution for “Paulo”, who in the meantime’s training with Patrice Hagelauer.

Speaking of: The striped Fabrice Santoro is also joining Lagardère with coach Lionel Zimbler in tow. Santoro turns 35 on Dec 9. His goal for next year is to set a new record for most Grand Slam tourneys played (he’s currently tied with Agassi at 61), and to compete at the Olympics for the fourth time.

Coach Conchita: Now free from military obligation, Shahar Peer can look forward to instruction from Gabriel Urpi and Conchita Martinez in 2008.

Murray’s next move: The currently-coachless Andy Murray will be doing off-season training with Miles Maclagan for the next three weeks, reports the Times. Murray is currently without a full-time coach since partly ways with Brad Gilbert earlier this month.

Stretch and… more strech: There’s gonna be a whole lot of lankiness in the 2008 doubles pairing of Jamie Murray and Max Mirnyi.

(Thanks to Chris and Patricia for their help on this post.)