When Todd and Debbie Miller purchased Amherst Hills Tennis Center (presently Miller Tennis Center) in 2007 it was another accomplishment in a long and illustrious career in tennis for Debbie. From the time she started taking lessons at age 10 from her father Joe, one of the area's finest all-time teaching professionals, and a member of the Buffalo Tennis Hall of Fame, Miller was hooked on the game of tennis. "My father's passion for the game rubbed off on me right from the start," she said.
Debbie started playing on the courts at the Buffalo Racquet and Four Seasons Racquet Clubs. She was part of one of the most talented group of juniors that ever played in Western New York. Also in that group were Debbie's sister Cathy and husband Todd. She and Cathy were such fine players that they competed and played on the boys' Sweet Home High School team.
Debbie won many junior singles titles in the early 1970's and competed at the state and national levels during her junior years. After high school, she attended the University at Buffalo where she played first singles before transferring to Ohio State where she was in the starting lineup for a very strong team. For many years she was ranked among the top ten women in Western New York. She is a former City Open Singles champion and won many city women's doubles titles with Cathy and mixed doubles titles.
In addition to her outstanding playing ability Debbie has established herself as one of the area's finest teaching professionals, male or female.
"I actually started to teach tennis when I was only twelve years old," Debbie said.
Her father was the director of the the junior tennis program at the the Four Season Racquet Club and Debbie would assist other pros with their teaching. From the start Miller loved teaching tennis. At the age of 16 when other girls were either babysitting or doing odd jobs to make money, Debbie was teaching tennis at public and private courts. Word of her teaching prowess followed and she became the head pro at Holiday Health & Fitness Center and Transit Valley Country Club. In the late 1980's she was the Women's Tennis Coach at UB and went on to to teach for many years at Amherst Hills Tennis Club where Todd was the Executive Director and Head Pro.
Debbie has received many certifications and awards which include: Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) certification, PTR National Tester, former USTA Eastern Pro of the Year and was the recipient of the USTA Eastern Tennis Family of the year in 2005. Through the years Miller has attended many symposiums and workshops that have kept her extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of tennis.
"From these symposiums I have developed friendships with some world renowned professionals, coaches, and outstanding individuals in the tennis industry," she said.
While Miller was teaching at Amherst Hills she began to run special events that attracted hundreds of people, such as the Night of Stars, the Eastern Tennis Symposium, and the Buffalo Tennis Hall of Fame.
"Todd is unbelievable when he came up with the aforementioned ideas," Debbie said. "Then, I have to figure out how to make each event special and provide events that hopefully people will enjoy."
Debbie has a great knack for creativity, organization, and an eye for detail. She handles almost everything to make these events a success. This includes designing centerpieces, sending out invitations, making up the programs, taking care of plaques for the players, decorating, having music at various events, taking care of public relations, and being there for each procedure until it is completed.
"Even though the work is tedious I love doing all of the things that are necessary," Debbie said. She laughed, saying, "However, delegating is my one big weakness."
Debbie feels that she and Todd were very fortunate to purchase the club five years ago.
"Todd and I feel that we have provided WNY with an outstanding tennis facility," she said. She notes that it is extremely challenging and rewarding that she is involved in more aspects of tennis that she could have ever imagined. She stresses that marketing, teaching, directing, innovating, cleaning, and fixing are all-encompassing.
With all of the roles that Miller is involved in, teaching tennis is still her forte. She loves working with tennis players of all ages and levels. However, she has a special fondness for working with 10 & under kids and feels that this age level group is going to grow in the near future, especially at the Miller Tennis Center. When she steps on the court with the youngsters she could not be happier.
Debbie likes nothing better than to see her students learn and improve. Teaching her own children, Tina and Tony, who have been ranked in the area's top ten, has added another dimension to her tennis acumen. Tina will playing tennis at Roberts Wesleyan in Rochester and Tony will be playing at Tyler Junior College in the fall.
DeRose a squash great
In a recent article on all time squash greats from the Tennis & Squash Club, Peter DeRose's name was inadvertently omitted. DeRose won the National Open Squash Doubles Championship in 1997, and was the number one ranked doubles player in North America from 1995-1997. He also won five city singles and nine city doubles championships.