BRADENTON -- While the skies grew pale Monday evening at IMG Academy and the first round of the Eddie Herr International Junior Championships, Nick Bollettieri sat under a tent near court 16. The final match of the day was wrapping up and so was Bollettieri's 12-hour day.
The most famous tennis coach in the world, whose name is plastered around the campus that used to be named for him, is watching one of his many students, a freshman at IMG named Anna Campana who had her eye on an upset. Under the tent are Campana's classmates and coaches, and the crowd grows as Campana gets closer and closer to upsetting No. 15-seed Judith van Kessel.
Not long after 6 p.m. -- after about three hours on the court against Dutch star -- Campana completes her upset as Bollettieri grins and glances around the tent after each improbable point. Campana didn't do much well, but somehow she managed a 2-1 (6-2, 2-6, 7-5) win. Bollettieri is the first to greet her with a guffaw.
"Looking good baby! It's too bad you're not a fighter," the gregarious 84-year-old jokes. She laughs through her exhaustion. "You need to get your first serve in," Bollettieri reminds her. "I know," she responds, still beaming.
Campana gets to work with Bollettieri regularly -- the coach even taught lessons Monday morning before catching about five matches throughout the day. For the some 1,500 tennis players from 90 different countries who don't spend the year in Bradenton, the Eddie Herr International also means a chance for a few days with tennis royalty and in front of college scouts.
"What's kind of good is to see the next kids who are trying to get college scholarships and hopefully a few of these will be professionals, but it's a long road," Bollettieri said. "You think you have a good student, and then you come here to see the world talent, and then you say, 'Holy mackerel.'"
After five days of qualifying, the main draw of the Eddie Herr began Monday without too many early upsets. The first round concludes Tuesday, and that night Bollettieri will speak at a players party.
Chances are he'll already have shared at least a few words for everyone at the party before then, though.
"What's so good about the tournament is that it's able to be played on one site where everybody can see it," Bollettieri said.
Some of the players, like Campana, are his pupils, and at the Herr he can watch them play on one of the largest stages of their young careers. Others introduce themselves between games as Bollettieri fields phone calls or jots notes in a planner. After every match he watches, he makes sure to greet both players.
Before walking a few dozen yards to watch Campana's epic, Bollettieri sat in a set to bleachers while Sanyukta Gawande, another Ascender, set Lia Pena, 2-0 (6-1, 6-0).
"It's kind of nice that I get to see a lot of the students," Bollettieri said, "and that's what's gratifying for me."
He poses for a picture with Gawande and his student's parents thank Bollettieri profusely for his help and kind words.
And then he seeks out Pena. He gives the Venezuelan a few words of encouragement and a moment to remember -- words of advice from the man who has coached Andre Agassi, Monica Seles, Maria Sharapova, and Venus and Serena Williams.
He does the same for van Kessel, the victim of an upset at the hands of one of his pupils.
"She didn't have anything," he tells her, "except heart."