The American documentary film LOVE MEANS ZERO was the brainchild of former WTA Touring Pro and current Director of Tennis at the Beverly Hills Tennis Club, Anne White. Directed by Jason Kohn, the film is about tennis coach Nick Bollettieri and his somewhat troubled relationship with Andre Agassi.
The film had its world premiere at the 42nd Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2017. It was released on television by Showtime on June 23, 2018. As one of Nick's first students at his old academy, Anne had a unique view of the events surrounding Andre, which helped shape this film about Bollettieri's legacy.
Tagline: Nick Bollettieri coached a generation of tennis champions, but his relentless desire to win cost him the relationship he valued most.
"LOVE MEANS ZERO"
Anne White about the making of a documentary film about Nick Bollettieri
(Scroll down to the end to watch the documentary)
From Anne White's web site:
Anne grew up in Charleston, WV, and started playing tennis at just five years old because her friends teased her that she couldn’t play. By the time she was nine years old she was #29 in the U.S. in the 12’s. Anne’s father, Pete, was captain of the WVU basketball team in 1955 and he shared Anne’s passion and drive for sports.
At 14 Anne did not have a coach during the winter and was only able to practice indoors 3 hours a week. Nick Bollettieri watched her play in the National 16’s and offered her a scholarship to train in Florida at what is now the infamous IMG Academy. After two and a half years in Bradenton, FL, she then went on to college at USC where she played #2 as a freshman. Anne finished the year as an undefeated All American and USC won the National Championship. Anne also won 3 USTA gold balls in one day at The U.S. Amateur Clay Courts in Pittsburgh, PA, winning the singles, doubles and mixed doubles.
TCB: Anne, as one of Nick Bollettieri's early students, you must have known him pretty well. But what made you reconnect with him, when did you get the idea of making the documentary, and why?
AW: Over the years I kept in touch with Nick as my family has had a home on Longboat Key since the ’80s. Our home is directly across the street from where the Colony was, it was demolished a year ago. Nick came to my Dad’s 75th Birthday party and various other events over the years. I love to walk the beach on Longboat Key and would walk by the Colony where I trained with Nick. For close to 6 years the property was abandoned. Once Nick said he would be interested in a film I thought it would be really cool to go back and shoot Nick on Court 1 where he started his tennis program which then later became the IMG Academy.
I really felt that Nick had an incredible story as someone who didn’t really play high-level competitive tennis or have any formal background, coached 10 #1 players, and really changed the coaching philosophy with his Academy. When you look at the players that trained there in the ’90s. I would say close to 80% of the pros on the tour had worked with Nick at one point in their careers.
Anne, Nick, and Anne's father Pete in 2015
As one of Nick’s first students at the Colony, I was grateful that I was able to train with him for 2 1/2 years before I went to USC. Nick never charged me a penny and without his guidance I am certain that I would not have reached #19 in the world in singles and #9 in the world in doubles. So I became very passionate and determined to make the film happen as what he accomplished was truly unbelievable.
TCB: How easy or difficult was it to convince Nick to be part of the film?
AW: In December of 2015 I took a tour of the IMG Academy and then joined Nick for lunch. I told him I couldn’t believe what he had created I said, “Someone needs to do a documentary on you, would that be something you would want to do?” He said, “Sure”. I basically just told him that I had just seen “Venus Vs” with Jill Mazursky and that it inspired me as it was one of the best tennis documentaries I had ever seen. I told him that I would talk to Jill to explore the possibility.
TCB: And there were some Beverly Hills Tennis Club members instrumental in making it?
AW: Jill and David Styne are both BHTC members and producing partners on the film. Jill believed in the idea from the beginning, she then suggested we meet with David who managed our Director, Jason Kohn. We had the majority of our meetings at BHTC.
Nick during filming at the IMG Academy
Nick at the beginning of the film
TCB: How did the production get funded?
AW: Showtime Documentaries believed in the project from the moment we met with them. Vinnie Malhotra from Showtime was the Executive Producer on the film, he made the deal happen for “Love means Zero”.
TCB: Were you present throughout the filming? How many locations?
AW: We shot in NYC, Longboat Key, Sarasota, Bradenton, Las Vegas, Orlando, and Short Hills, New Jersey. I was on set for all of the shoots. When we shot Nick at the Colony it was close to 90 degrees. He was incredible as he sat in that chair for 6 hours both days with only short breaks in between. I think I had close to a dozen large Gatorade’s on those days.
TCB: How was the experience of working with Nick?
AW: Life is about showing up and giving 100%. That is what Nick taught me and I carry that with me in all of my endeavors.
Anne, David, Jill at Paramount Studios. LMZ was nominated for a Sports Emmy.
Nick watching old Academy footage
TCB: Did you guys reach out to André Agassi for a little cameo (or more) in the documentary?
AW: We reached out to Andre and he declined to participate.
TCB: Is Nick happy with the documentary and how he is portrayed?
AW: He liked the film and was blown away when he saw the film on the flight back to Miami from Malaysia. I think it would be best to ask him that question.
TCB: In light of Nick's latest on-court health scare, do you think he's ever wanting to slow down a little?
AW: Nick is always full speed ahead. He is constantly moving forward with new teaching tools, ideas, and passion.
Nick and Andre (photo John Russell)
TCB: What's your next film project?
AW: I have a few ideas I am developing right now.
TCB: Do you still play tennis for fun?
AW: Yes! I love playing doubles and hitting with friends.
TCB: What's your tennis racquet of choice?
AW: HEAD Prestige MP.
TCB: Thank you, Anne.