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Millers take bows as world's top staff

This evening, in Hilton Head, S.C., Todd and Debbie Miller, the owners of the Miller Tennis Center, will receive one of the most prestigious awards in tennis.

Last month, the Professional Tennis Registry made the announcement that the Miller Tennis Center's professional teaching staff was the No. 1-ranked staff in the United States.

Tonight's award, which is called the "PTR Pride Award" recognizes the Millers' pro staff as being the No. 1 in the world. The award will be presented to the Millers by Judy Levering, former USTA president.

What makes the award especially noteworthy is the fact that the Professional Tennis Registry is the largest organization of tennis professionals and coaches in the world, numbering more than 13,000 members in 126 countries.

Tonight's award is one of many for the Millers. In 2004, Todd received the International Tester of the Year award. In 2006, he was named one of the world's PTR Master Professionals, of which there are only 30 in the world. In addition, he has been named PTR Eastern Coach of the Year, and PTR New York State Professional.

Debbie is also a former PTR Eastern Professional of the Year.

In addition to the Millers' impeccable credentials, their pro staff is the highest rated of any club or academy in the world for the following reasons: In addition to Todd's Master Pro status and Debbie's credentials, the staff includes 24 certified professionals that include four national testers, three national clinicians, and three USTA tennis high performance coaches. Miller Tennis Center ranks No. 1 in all of the aforementioned categories.

For 27 years, Todd served as the executive director and head professional at Amherst Hills. (The name of the club before Todd and Debbie purchased it.) Debbie was a senior pro at the club for 22 years. Since purchasing the club last year they have been on a mission to make it one of the nation's best facilities.

The indoor portion of the MTC has been upgraded with the addition of a pro shop and massage therapy room. Resurfaced courts and numerous other amenities have been added to give a new look to the club. The Millers oversaw all of the upgrades.

"When we purchased the club we were fortunate to have a really good pro staff, with Chris Vredenburg as associate head pro and Sherif Zaher as high performance coach," said Miller. "In addition, we had many other talented and highly rated coaches on our staff. However, to get to the highest level I felt that it was extremely important to add a few missing pieces to the program."

Over the past year, the Millers have hired three outstanding coaches who have helped elevate the MTC: Adam Jasick, director of tennis; Alfredo Soliz, head professional; and Spencer Fields, head coach high performance.

When Todd and Debbie traveled to the annual symposium they often took their children, Tina and Tony, with them. They would take lessons from Jasick and the Millers were greatly impressed with his prowess, intelligence and leadership qualities.

"Debbie and I felt that he would be an outstanding addition to our program as he definitely is a rising star in the sport of tennis," Miller said.

Soliz, a 40-year-old from Bolivia, has a reputation for being one of South America's finest coaches. He was the Fed Cup captain and coach for Bolivia for five years. Through the years he has coached at the Hopman, Bolletieri and Van der Meer Academies, three of the most prestigious facilities in the world.

The 33-year-old Fields is also a close friend of Jasick. Since his arrival at MTC, Fields has had a great impact on the high performance junior players, which includes virtually every nationally ranked junior in Western New York, as well as the MTC's adult students.

Jasick is thrilled to be at MTC.

"Alfredo, Spencer, and I feel that we are really in a unique situation at MTC," Jasick said. "We have gathered a group of world class pros and everyone has different but outstanding abilities. The staff works well together."

"Being the PTR's No. 1 club in the world ranking is an accomplishment that our entire staff takes pride in," Todd said. "However, the bar has been raised. We will require continued education in order to continue providing the very best services that we can to our students."

e-mail: thegreatgar@verizon.net

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