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Academy where stars are born
The Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy has produced some of the biggest names in the game.

And its latest graduate - Maria Sharapova - has secured her place among the superstars.

Who is Nick Bollettieri?
Nick Bollettieri
Coaching guru Nick Bollettieri was born in North Pelham, New York, in 1931
He opened the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida in 1978
Having worked with some of the world's top players, he's now considered one of the most influential and successful coaches in tennis
In 1987 the Academy had 32 students in the main draw at Wimbledon and 27 at the US Open.
In 2002 Nick was inducted into the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame

When Maria was just seven years old her father, Yuri, took her from their native Russia to the Bollettieri Academy in Florida - risking everything in the hope that she could realise her potential.

A decade on, his faith has been repaid in spectacular fashion, and Sharapova joins the likes of Andre Agassi and Monica Seles on the growing list of Bollettieri stars.

The Bollettieri Academy was founded in 1978 as a full-time tennis boarding school.

Its programme is based around three guiding principles: discipline, responsibility and effort.

Bollettieri, now 72, was a former paratrooper and his pupils follow a tough, disciplined regime from an early age.

They're taught to believe in themselves, dictate the game and chase down every point with dogged determination.

Sharapova is the latest Grand Slam winner to emerge from the Academy, but even Britain has tasted success courtesy of Bollettieri.

Miles Kasiri was the 2004 runner-up in Wimbledon boys' singles and has spent two years at the Academy.

Bollettieri stars
Maria Sharapova
Andre Agassi
Monica Seles
Anna Kournikova
Jim Courier
Tommy Haas

While each player has own their own style, they all share the classic Bollettieri traits of power, conditioning and incredible mental toughness.

The Sport Academy's tennis coach, Dan Thorp has analysed Sharapova's game. He believes her self belief is one of the main reasons for her success.

"Sharapova has followed a very carefully structured physical conditioning programme from a very young age," says Dan.

"As a result she is in fantastic condition and - importantly - she knows it.

"She uses her condition to intimidate her opponents, by chasing, hitting hard and being relentless in her efforts."


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