Search
Email Us
Tennis Resorts Online
IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy, Bradenton, Florida
Courtesy IMG Academy

IMG Academy Tennis Program

Bradenton, Florida

By Roger Cox, Editor

More than 40 years ago, Nick Bollettieri gathered up the young juniors he'd been coaching at the Colony Beach and Tennis Club and relocated them to a patch of farmland in Bradenton, where he established the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. Over time, the facility would become famous as the launching pad for a host of world-ranked professional tennis players, among them Monica Seles, Maria Sharapova, Andre Agassi, and Jim Courier. Now 90 years old, Bollettieri no longer takes the court to feed balls and shout advice to his celebrity charges and promising students, but he does remain a constant presence, navigating the courts in a golf cart and dispensing tips like "We don't stand for making champions. We stand for making you as good as you can be." and "Not I'm going to try to do it. You have to do it." He describes his role this way: "I go watch courts, I give speeches, I give tips."


LBK-728x90 banner

Drysdale chateau elan

Overlooking pristine white sands and turquoise waters, Baha Mar affords guests a truly breathtaking backdrop to perfect their tennis game. This 4-day, 3-night retreat features educational drill sessions and exciting match play opportunities. Off court, enjoy luxurious accommodations at SLS coupled with delightful group dining and happy hour experiences. For more information, contact Katie Steck at k.steck@cliffdrysdale.com or visit Omni La Costa Doubles Boot Camp



Given the Academy's reputation for producing superstars, it inevitably attracts those who dream of becoming one of them, and in the past the Academy did little to discourage those dreams. It was disparaged as a "factory" that processed huge amounts of raw material looking for the gold of incredible talent. But today, it encourages more reasonable goals. ":The Academy used to be about going pro," says the current tennis director Jimmy Arias, himself an early pupil of Bollettieri's. "Now it's about doing at least a few years of college. The main thing is you're competing against yourself, not against other people."

The parents who delivered their children into the Bollettieri staff's hand, eventually spawned a program designed for them. It attracts mainly 3.0-4.0 singles and doubles players looking to improve their strokes, develop some consistency by hitting hundreds of balls, get a good workout, and have fun while doing it. Led by a cheerleading Roger Blackburn—his often repeated mantra is 'Fired Up'—the five-hour-a-day program is intensive but not exhausting. Blackburn and his solid staff complement their enthusiasm with demonstrations of how to hit the various strokes and personal attention to the issues each of us had. "We want to give you simple tips, one for each stroke," Blackburn said of their approach. Nowhere is that more evident than in the daily video sessions, shot with Blackburn's phone on a tripod and larded with appropriate advice. On my last visit, for example, he had four of us each hit more than half a dozen forehands and backhands giving each of us an appropriate—and easily remembered—tip for making it better. "Catch it with your left hand," he repeated each time I hit a forehand. "Throw your Frisbee" on my backhand. Later in the day, that video showed up on a CoachNow app we'd been asked to download so we could review those tips at home as useful reminders of Blackburn's advice.

All of this takes place at what is now IMG Academy, a sprawling, 500-acre campus that claims to be the world's largest sports complex. That scarcely seems like an idle boast, for within its grounds are training facilities for golf, baseball, basketball, soccer, football, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, and track and field. Like the tennis, these other disciplines attract both aspiring amateurs and professionals with both short term and year-round programs and the option to stay and live on campus. As impressive as all of this is, what appealed to me most as an adult tennis player was the option to stay on campus at The Legacy hotel. Built at a cost of $28 million, the 160-room lodge near the entrance to the sports complex has a restaurant and bar, swimming pool, fitness center, and spa. Bedding down there affords an opportunity to get together with your fellow campers off court, something that had not been easily possible before the hotel's construction. The rooms are very comfortable, outfitted with a queensize bed, desk, two-person convertible sofa, a Keurig coffee maker, and walk-in shower. The menu at the restaurant, which is just off the lobby, runs to pasta, fish, steak, salads, sandwiches, tacos. There is one communal table framed by tables for two, four, or six and a six-stool bar that serves beer, wine, and specialty cocktails. The hotel and all its amenities round out the camp by adding a social dimension—and a very relaxed one since everyone attending the camp had had to arrive with proof of a negative Covid test. The tennis has always been good, but now a stay at the IMG Academy feels less like a boot camp and more like a vacation—at least as long as hitting tennis balls for five hours a day is your idea of fun. It is mine.

Tennis Features

Pro Shop: 1-800-872-6425

The adult programs are run by two experienced pros, Roger Blackburn and Jonathan Osuigwe, who are assisted by as many other staff as enrollment demands. Even before you arrive, you're encouraged to download the CoachNow app. The first communication you're likely to receive is from the perpetually pumped up Blackburn, who sets the tone for the week with an enthusiastic "Fired Up. Awesome!" soon followed by a welcome to the program and information about when and where to meet.

Courts & Fees. There are 55 courts at the Academy (33 hard, 18 clay, and 4 indoor). Court fees: None.
Caveat: Don't underestimate the demands of a full-day program. Anything and everything you can do to get in shape before coming down will help. Make sure the shoes you bring are well broken in and comfortable. The coaches provide water, Gatorade, and towels to help with dehydration on court.

Ratings

(282 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
5-Ball Rating Cuisine
4-Ball Rating Romance
1-Ball Rating Kids' Programs
5-Ball Rating
Instruction
5-Ball Rating Lodging
4½-Ball Rating Solo Travelers
5-Ball Rating
Tennis Staff
5-Ball Rating Spa & Fitness
5-Ball Rating
Game Matching
4½-Ball Rating Dollar Value
4½-Ball Rating Setting
4-Ball Rating


IMG Academy Tennis Program

Ratings
( 282 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
5-Ball Rating
Tennis Staff
5-Ball Rating
Instruction
5-Ball Rating
Junior Tennis
5-Ball Rating

Legacy Hotel Ratings
( 300 Reviewers)
Lodging
4½-Ball Rating Kids' Programs
5-Ball Rating
Cuisine
4-Ball Rating Romance
1-Ball Rating
Solo Travelers
5-Ball Rating
Other Recreation
4-Ball Rating Dollar Value
4½-Ball Rating
Spa & Fitness
5-Ball Rating

Ratings

(282 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
5-Ball Rating Game Matching
4½-Ball Rating Tennis Staff
5-Ball Rating Lodging
4½-Ball Rating Dollar Value
4½-Ball Rating Other Recreation
4-Ball Rating Romance
1-Ball Rating Solo Travelers
5-Ball Rating
Instruction
5-Ball Rating Junior Tennis
5-Ball Rating Cuisine
4-Ball Rating Spa & Fitness
5-Ball Rating Setting
4-Ball Rating Kids' Programs
5-Ball Rating


IMG Academy Tennis Program Ratings
( 282 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
5-Ball Rating Instruction
5-Ball Rating
Tennis Staff
5-Ball Rating Junior Tennis
5-Ball Rating

Legacy Hotel Ratings
( 300 Reviewers)
Lodging
4½-Ball Rating Other Recreation
4-Ball Rating Setting
4-Ball Rating Romance
1-Ball Rating Dollar Value
4½-Ball Rating
Cuisine
4-Ball Rating Spa & Fitness
5-Ball Rating Kids' Programs
5-Ball Rating Solo Travelers
5-Ball Rating

Ratings

(282 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
5-Ball Rating Cuisine
4-Ball Rating Romance
1-Ball Rating Kids' Programs
5-Ball Rating
Instruction
5-Ball Rating Lodging
4½-Ball Rating Solo Travelers
5-Ball Rating
Tennis Staff
5-Ball Rating Spa & Fitness
5-Ball Rating
Game Matching
4½-Ball Rating Dollar Value
4½-Ball Rating Setting
4-Ball Rating


IMG Academy Tennis Program

Ratings
( 282 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
5-Ball Rating
Tennis Staff
5-Ball Rating
Instruction
5-Ball Rating
Junior Tennis
5-Ball Rating

Legacy Hotel Ratings
( 300 Reviewers)
Lodging
4½-Ball Rating Kids' Programs
5-Ball Rating
Cuisine
4-Ball Rating Romance
1-Ball Rating
Solo Travelers
5-Ball Rating
Other Recreation
4-Ball Rating Dollar Value
4½-Ball Rating
Spa & Fitness
5-Ball Rating

Other Recreation

The IMG Academy Tennis Program is in fact one of nine sports offered at this 600-acre Bradenton site, allowing juniors to pursue tennis, baseball, basketball, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, track and field, or performance training while adults can choose among tennis, golf, and performance training.

Spa & Fitness Center. The Legacy Hotel has its own fitness center as well as the Wellness Spa, which offers massages as well as specialized services.

Lodging

The Legacy Hotel has 160 rooms as well as such creature comforts as a resort-style pool, Icon Eatery & Bar for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a grab-and-go Provisions Bar. Transportation is available to and from the hotel to on-campus programs. Besides the hotel, the Academy has kitchen-equipped villas ranging in size up to three bedrooms. In addition to options on campus, you have a broad choice of places to bed down locally, including several near the Sarasota-Bradenton airport.

Restaurants

The Icon Eatery & Bar in the hotel serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and caters to in-room dining while the Icon Loft adds small plates and signature cocktails from 4 pm to midnight. There are also dining options at the Campus Center and the Adult Clubhouse. The hotel's concierge and desks in the clubhouse and Campus Center all have a long list of local restaurants, complete with driving directions, for those who prefer to dine off-campus.

See Also

If you're looking for a demanding camp, one that will have you on court from much of the day, also check out the following:

Rates and Reservations

The pricing itself varies with the week chosen, so visit the website for exact cost of the week you plan to attend. Lodging is also available on site and ranges from hotel rooms to three-bedroom villas. 

Tennis Only Packages
1-day, $450; 3-day, $1,200; 5-day, $1,700

All-inclusive (tennis, lodging)
1-day/2-night, from $809; 3-day/4-night, from $2,129; 6-day/5-night, from $2,819

IMG Academy Tennis Program
5650 Bollettieri Blvd.
Bradenton, FL 34210

Travel Essentials

Seasons. Year-round; however, many adults scale back to a half-day program in summer.

Travel Instructions. The nearest airport is Sarasota Bradenton International (SRQ), 6 miles away.

General Tourist Information. Visit the Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau website or contact them at P.O. Box 1000, Bradenton, FL 34206-1000; phone (941) 729-9177, ext. 3980.