Remembering UK Tennis All-American Bruno Agostinelli

Those who wish to make a donation to Bruno's family are encouraged to do so here.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – One of the greatest tennis players in University of Kentucky history, Bruno Agostinelli, passed away on Wednesday night at the age of 28. 

“We will dearly miss Bruno Agostinelli. He was great on the court and exemplified everything it means to be a Kentucky Wildcat off of it. My heart breaks for his family and we offer our deepest condolences,” said UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart. 

The native of Niagara Falls, Ontario, who is a member of the Wildcat Tennis Hall of Fame, will forever be remembered as one of the best tennis players to play at Kentucky. In his four years on campus, Agostinelli posted over 100 wins, reached a final ranking of No. 4 in the nation, was a three-time Southeastern Conference performer, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Southeast Player of the Year and the 15th Wildcat in school history to receive All-America honors after advancing to the NCAA singles and doubles championship twice. 

“This is a very sad day for me and our entire Wildcat family,” said UK men’s tennis head coach Cedric Kauffmann. “My thoughts and prayers are with Bruno's wife, his two-week old little boy, his parents and brother. Bruno was not only one of the best student-athletes we’ve ever had at UK, but he was the most caring, respectful and hardworking person I have ever met. He was kind and humble and he became one of my closest friends after his playing years. I will dearly miss him. I know our UK family will unite and help his family as much as we can to carry on his legacy of greatness.”

After earning his degree at Kentucky, Agostinelli continued to shine on the tennis court, receiving a wildcard in the ATP Masters tour event and was chosen to play for Team Canada in the Davis Cup. 

Representing his country, Agostinelli defeated Ivan Miranda in four sets in the deciding rubber match to clinch a 3-2 Davis Cup victory for Canada over host Peru. The win was in an Americas Group I first-round playoff on the red clay outdoors at the Club Lawn Tennis De La Exposicion in Lima. 

Agostinelli's match, the last on the schedule, was suspended due to darkness Sunday evening with the former UK All-American leading Miranda, ranked No. 547 in the world, 7-6(5), 1-6, 6-3. The unlikely scenario gave Agostinelli a chance to be the hero Monday afternoon by clinching the win for Canada while recording his first Davis Cup victory. He did just that, taking the fourth set 6-4 for the win. 

Off the court, Agostinelli was as respected as he was on the court, evident by him being named Mr. Wildcat at the 2009 CATSPY Awards. The Mr. Wildcat Award is given for all-around excellence in athletics, academics, character and service, and is the highest honor given by the athletic department to a student-athlete. 

“In a time of overhype, Bruno was all substance as a player and especially as a person,” said former UK men’s tennis head coach Dennis Emery, who was Agostinelli’s head coach during his time in Lexington. “There was no point in time in his four years on campus where we weren’t proud of the way that he represented the University and our program. I know in speaking with some of our players who played with him that he was a quite leader that had the type of confidence that you wanted as a teammate. When I made my home visit to recruit Bruno, I watched him play for 30 minutes and talked to him for another 30 minutes and knew immediately that he was going to be the player that helped take our program to its next step in success. He made coaching worthwhile because you were just so darn proud of him and everything that he did. A great example of what this University can do for someone was when Bruno came to UK he was quiet and wouldn’t dream of speaking publicly, but after winning the Mr. Wildcat Award, his speech to his peers was so heartfelt and inspiring and showed how much this University can grow someone. I will never forget that.” 

Agostinelli’s speech after winning Mr. Wildcat: “I just want to say that it is an honor to receive this award this year. These last four years at Kentucky have been a special experience for me. I would like to give a special thanks out to my coaches, Dennis Emery and Cedric Kauffmann, who have helped me to become the player that I am today. Also, I would like to give special thanks out to Mr. Barnhart and Dr. (Lee T.) Todd as well as everybody from the academic and sports department. Without you guys, our collegiate careers here would not be possible, so thank you. Last, but not least, I would like to thank my team who have made these last four years fun and memorable. Thank you.”