In the many years that I have seen the best tennis teaching pros in Western New York, Marcus Fugate stands at the head of the class.
Fugate came to Miller Tennis Center in August 2016 after nine years teaching at the Tennis Club of Rochester, and he has continued his success in producing high-quality players at multiple levels.
He also remains active on the court, winning the MUNY singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles without losing a match for the past three years. A former ATP player, he has wins against Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, and Milos Raonic, a Wimbledon finalist in 2016.
“Without a doubt, Marcus is the best professional that I have ever hired," said Todd Miller, who owns the center with wife Debbie and is one of only 51 international master professionals in the world. "His knowledge of the game is nonpareil. He has met the goals of everything I have presented to him.
"He has connected with all of our players regardless of their playing levels. Marcus makes teaching fun for his students while helping them improve with every aspect of their games while they improve."
Recently, The News interviewed Fugate at Miller Tennis Center.
BN: Marcus, what was the main reason you signed on to become the head tennis pro at Miller Tennis Center?
Fugate: Although I lived in Rochester, I knew of the reputation that the Millers had in Western New York. The opportunity to work with talented youngsters of all levels was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. Being able to work with Todd and Debbie Miller, the owners of Miller Tennis Center, was also a main reason why I took the teaching job. Their experience and understanding of the game, their dedication to each child regardless of their level of play is extremely impressive.
BN: Who was responsible for your teaching and playing experience before you arrived in Buffalo?
Fugate: Billy Nealon was a great teaching pro and player in Rochester. As I grew up, he shared his love of coaching with me that greatly helped me with my teaching prowess.
BN: Were there other reasons why you decided to move to Buffalo to teach tennis?
Fugate: I had played many tennis tournaments in Buffalo and received my degree in business in Rochester. I was greatly impressed with Miller’s all-around involvement with all players, regardless of their ages. I was really excited to work with so many players at different ages and abilities.
BN: What were some of the ideas for teaching tennis that you brought to Miller?
Fugate: I was fortunate to have had a lot of success with match play and developing players. When I started teaching at Miller, I was excited to teach such a great group of tennis players of all ages. I couldn’t wait to see them blossom and reach their potential.
BN: How were you able to evaluate each player relatively quickly?
Fugate: I introduced a format that each player needed to improve their skills on. Once my students have improved their overall skills, I try to take them to another level to improve. Fortunately, I have met great success with all of my students.
BN: What is the secret of your teaching success?
Fugate: Each student I teach develops at a different level. They are unique in what skill sets they have. Each student works on their goals, improvement and technique. I am fortunate that I am able to help all of my students regardless of their level of play to rise to the highest heights that they are capable of.