MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One of the most recognized coaches in tennis met with local students who are just being introduced to the game. Nick Bolletteri was at Prodeo Academy in Minneapolis on Friday.
He coached players like Andre Agassi, Minnesota’s own David Wheaton, and he has worked with the Williams sisters. His focus is on making sure all kids have a chance in life.
“Education is the foundation of the world, so pay attention to your books. Say thank you to your teachers and to your loved ones,” Bolletteri told students.
Bolletteri shared the meaningful message with students at Prodeo Academy before they had the chance to experience the sport.
“I love tennis,” second-grader Jeriah Ranglin said.
“I learned backhand, forehand, like balancing a ball, balancing a ball on your racket,” first-grader Bella Tekabe said.
Bolletteri believes every child should have the opportunity to learn respect, perseverance and team work.
“That they have a chance in life no matter where they come from, they still can make it,” Bolletteri said.
He serves on the board of InnerCity Tennis, a Minneapolis-based non-profit that provides free and low-cost tennis to kids who may not otherwise be exposed to the sport.
“It’s an opportunity for us to just use tennis as a vehicle to connect with kids and show them the love of the game but also just teach them great character and values that we adhere to at InnerCity Tennis,” Executive Director John Wheaton said.
Prodeo Academy is one of the schools InnerCity Tennis partners with.
“I think they can see that anything is possible there are so many different ways that they can excel in life,” principal Chancey Anderson said.
In each drill is a lesson, one coaches and teachers hope will stay with the students beyond the court and classroom.
“How you just play and just learn about tennis. Just try your best and if you don’t do it just get back up and just do it again don’t just quit,” second-grader Jakius McCluskey said.
“No matter what the numbers say if you did the best that you can do you’re a winner,” Bolletteri said.
Bolletteri also helped kick off a new initiative, the Northside Excellence Team. It’s designed to ensure under-served kids that want to take their skill to a higher level, have the ability to.
Bolletteri will speak at InncerCity Tennis Foundation’s annual Gala Saturday evening. WCCO’s Mike Max is the emcee. Click here to learn more about the non-profit.