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Bollettieri deserves induction into Hall

World-renowned tennis coach Nick Bollettieri.
World-renowned tennis coach Nick Bollettieri.

Second chances don't always come around so, when they do, it is important to make the most of them.

The selection committee voters who pick from a list of candidates for inclusion into the International Tennis Hall of Fame will get the opportunity to right a wrong during the next several months when they cast their ballots for the Class of 2012.

Two years ago they chose not to include Nick Bollettieri in the sports Hall of Fame in the game's contributor category. It would be unconscionable if they were to do it again.

Bollettieri, whose fingerprints are all over the sport, deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. In fact, the credibility of the institution should be questioned should Bollettieri be shut out again.

"I am overwhelmed to be nominated. Whatever the decision is by the people who vote, I am just very appreciative of being on the list of inductees," Bollettieri said Wednesday after hearing he has been nominated again, choosing to take the high road after being run over the last time around.

It would have been nice had Bollettieri followed Monica Seles into the HOF when the Sarasota resident was inducted in 2009.

It would have been justice for Bollettieri to join Andre Agassi this past summer.

Two other players Bollettieri helped coach — Jim Courier and Boris Becker — are also members of the Hall of Fame.

Those are just four of the numerous players in the game Bollettieri has worked with in his 50 years in the sport, including 10 players who have reached No. 1 in the world.

He has certainly been one of the most visible coaches in the game and his reach goes far beyond professional tennis.

Bollettieri literally changed the way young players learned the game with his live-in academy concept.

He started by housing players at his home, then in a small run-down motel that was purchased. The dream blossomed into the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, which was built in Bradenton in 1978.

Over the years, players battled on the courts at the academy, learning how to compete in tennis and in life.

Today the 300-acre site houses the IMG Academy, a multi-sport facility that is home to many of the top athletes from around the world.

Bollettieri has never been shy about speaking his mind and over the years battled with many of the tennis' old guard. Memories are long and it is possible some of those old adversaries are among the unidentified voters who comprise the "Hall of Fame Enshrinees and other individuals who are highly knowledgeable of the sport and its history."

Bollettieri is nominated in the Contributor Category. It is hard to think of many who have contributed more. Hard to believe he doesn't belong among the nearly 200 members of the Hall of Fame.

Now 80, Bollettieri certainly would welcome a chance join players he has coached in receiving the sports highest honor.

"It would be the greatest honor of my life to be a part of that," Bollettieri said.

Ironically, Bollettieri could be splitting votes with another credible candidate who lives in the area. Sarasota's Mike Davies is also on the ballot for the second consecutive year.

Davies, originally from Wales, is credited with paving the way for the future of the sport by forging successful television contracts and increasing the popularity of the game as a tennis promoter and administrator.

During his career in the game, Davies served as executive director of what is known today as the ATP. He also served as executive director of World Championship Tennis. He served time as the general manager of the ITF and is credited with revitalizing the Davis Cup. He is also the last player from Great Britain to reach the finals at Wimbledon, reaching the men's doubles final in 1960.

Jennifer Capriati, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Gustavo Kuerten headline the players nominated for the 2012 class. The announcement of the 2012 class will be made early next year and induction will be held July 14 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.

Bollettieri should be first in line.

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