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Dear International Tennis Hall of Fame...

Nick and Maria Sharapova
Nick and Maria Sharapova

My name is David "Red" Ayme. I have worked directly with Nick at IMG Academy for the past 22 years as head traveling coach, traveling with many of our touring pros including Boris Becker and Marcelo Rios, both of whom achieved a #1 world ranking. I also spent 8 years traveling full time with Tommy Haas, who reached#2 in the ATP ranks. I writemyentry with bias,but I respect others' opinions regarding Nick's exclusion from the International Tennis Hall of Fame. At this point I would like tothank the Hall of Fame for making the decision to exclude Nick this year; the uprising of support for Nick has since been beyond tremendous. If the Hall hadn't excluded Nick this year,some of his accomplishments might have gone unnoticed. I don't want to bore anyone about how many top players Nick has worked with, but he should be considered a legend if you look at his ability to developa young player's skill-set, translate it to the modern game, and maximize their potential.

Many of these accomplishments are now being highlighted in newspapers, blogged about on the internet, and talked about on TV during basketball games and talk radio shows that have nothing to do with tennis. Thus, much of his charity work which has gone unnoticed during main stream tennis coverage is now being highlighted. Nick will get much more done by not going give a short speech that would take him away for five days or more. During this time Nick will be able to help many students at the Academy, do more charity work, and possibly go speak to our troops at a Military installation that would be more than happy to have him. In January, Nick spent 10 days in Iraq and Afghanistan and is scheduled to speak at the Naval Academy in the near future. In addition to the numerous other times Nick has spoken at WestPoint, I find it odd that the Military welcomes him with open arms during two wars but the hall can't find room. To this I say "thanks" again, as Nick will be able to devote more time to helping others-an integral part of the Nick Bollettieri legacy.

When you look back on the current group of players that Nick has helped, his legendary status is obvious. Currently we are working with Ryan Harrison, who coached by his dad Pat and has enlisted Nick as a consultant to help him become the youngest player ranked in the top 300. Yuki Bombri recently won the Orange Bowl and Aussi Open Jr. Championship in '09 and is now ranked in the top 350, and Filip Krajinovic also around 350. All these players have styles of play that are well-rounded and aggressive and a testament to Nick's vision for the game. They can come forward and finish points at net, and of course have all the Bollettieri trademarks weapons: big serves, big forehands, and early returns.

Nick and Andre Agassi

Nick also recently helped with Devin Britton-a young American who was on scholarship for 4 years at the Academy and enrolled last January at Ole Miss and won the NCAA tourney. He has since turned pro and now works with the USTA. Nick made many adjustments in Devin's game that will be looked back on as a vital part of his success as a professional. Another student of Nick's, Mallory Cecil, recently won the NCAA Championships as a freshman at Duke University. Her game developed over the five years she was on scholarship at IMG Academy. Long after nick has left this planet he will be credited for helping a great group of 12-14 year old players, including John Luci Quincy and many others who have pro potential. That is bigger than giving any speech, and by not selecting him this year all of his accomplishments are highlighted in circles in and outside of tennis, so thanks for helping the legend of Nick Bollettieri.

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