Paul-Henri Mathieu on Nick Bollettieri: “An outstanding motivator”

“Why did you decide to broadcast live at the Academy of Nick Bollettieri, who died at the age of 15, 91 this Sunday?
It was the academy’s reputation that attracted me. I wanted to immerse myself in American culture, and the name Bollettieri often came to mind. After a difficult year at Insep, I left to do an internship, I liked this place very much and I decided to expand my experience. I stayed there for three years.

Was it as you imagined?
My eyes were shining when I came in, it was American perfection, some hard road and then all these great champions we met. In fact, we were a group of barely fifteen “competition” players alongside 300 or 400 other low-level players. It excited many people. I could write with girls like Korda, Rios, Mirnyi, Novak, Haas, Malisse and also the Williams sisters, Hantuchova, Majoli…

Was it as intense as they say?
At 6 am we set off for three hours of basketball and rehearsals. We went to class from 9am to 1pm, then retrained in the afternoon. So yeah, he was waking up at 5 am, another culture, what. The method was intense basket in the morning and game state and points in the afternoon. So in the morning I can say technical and physical; afternoon tactic

“I had the misfortune of throwing my racket once. The next Saturday, I had to take the balls of his students.

Was Bollettieri too close to the “students”?
I was with him on the field every morning. It radiated positive energy and you didn’t arrive by saying it was wrong. I once had the misfortune of complaining, whining a little, throwing my racket, and had to collect his balls from 8am to noon the next Saturday, the day he traditionally gave individual lessons. students. Washing his car? No, I didn’t do that, I guess it was the next step. I stopped at the first (laughs).

How was he?
He was an extraordinary motivator. He imposed his toughness, we could not escape, we showed a borderline behavior. Otherwise, it was a punishment. Trust meant nothing to him. He was a former Marine and according to him, the road to success was to pass on this discipline from an early age. When it was a little worse, it only took five or ten minutes to talk to you to get your head down. I will never forget the gym sessions he did with weights in his pool at 5 o’clock every morning… The academy was his whole life. »

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