State College of Florida 'courts' Bollettieri, other tennis notables

VENICE -- Nick Bollettieri, who put Bradenton on the world map by producing tennis superstars Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova, Monica Seles and others at the Bollettieri Tennis Academy, will now have his name on a tennis court next door at State College of Florida.

SCF trustees unanimously approved the naming of the new courts at the Bradenton campus for Bollettieri and two others who have worked closely with him -- SCF women’s coach Betsy Nagelsen McCormack and former IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy tennis coach Jim Nagelsen.

A court was also named for the late Penelope “Nip” Anderson McBride of Manasota Key, who was the No. 7 ranked player in the country in 1927 and was a tennis pioneer in the Manatee-Sarasota area.

The four were nominated by the State College of Florida Foundation in recognition of support given to SCF.

Bollettieri has been active in the SCF women’s tennis program “since day one, allowing our players to use his courts for practice and competitive play, providing advice to the players and offering to help our coaching staff in any way possible -- a recruiting tool we couldn’t place a dollar value on,” the nomination said.

Bollettieri, a former Army paratrooper who parachuted from a plane on his 80th birthday this summer, attended the SCF Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday.

“You are only as old as you feel. It’s very important that you feel each day that you can accomplish something,” Bollettieri said.

“What you want to accomplish is giving children an opportunity to achieve,” he said.

McCormack stood with Bollettieri before the SCF Board of Trustees after the namings were approved.

“He has done so much for the sport globally and he has a heart the size of the planet,” McCormack said.

McCormack, a former Grand Slam and Wimbledon doubles champion, competed on the Women’s Tennis Association and Virginia Slims circuits for 23 years.

She brought near instant credibility and success to the SCF women’s team after being named coach in late 2009. In addition to her coaching skills, she also financially supported the tennis team.

Prior to joining SCF, she helped her brother, Jim Nagelsen, train young players at IMG Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy.

Her late husband, Mark McCormack, was founder and chairman of International Management Group, which acquired Bollettieri Tennis Academy.

All of those after whom a court was named had financially supported SCF or had significant gifts made in their names.

Trustees also approved naming the lobby area within the Stephen J. Korcheck Student Services Center on the Bradenton campus for Joseph P. Vona.

Vona, a Bradenton resident, has philanthropically supported SCF since 2003. He endowed a scholarship for a theater student, made a six-figure gift for an education scholarship, and then doubled his gift.

“A former teacher who retired to Bradenton, Joe has a heart for education. Teaching was a vocation for him -- a calling, a passion. At the heart of it all is the desire to help students improve their lives through education,” said the SCF Foundation memo recommending the lobby area be named the Joseph P. Vona Rotunda.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021.