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Ameels leaving for Michigan

City of Bainbridge Tennis Director Derek Ameel will be going home.

A native of New Baltimore, Mich., and a 1994 graduate of Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., with a degree in professional tennis management, Ameel will be returning to his alma mater to become director of the university’s professional tennis management program, the largest program of its kind in the world.

He will also be managing the university’s racket and fitness club, which has four indoor courts and 12 outdoor courts, and teaching classes in the professional tennis management program while working on his master’s degree in education or business administration.

Ameel said he and his wife, Julia, the city’s head pro and former No. 1 women’s singles player at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus where she earned a degree in exercise physiology, have enjoyed working with the city’s adult and junior tennis programs.

“Everyone has been great to us and we enjoy working here,” Ameel said. “I especially want to thank Bainbridge Leisure Services Deportment Director Al Kelley, Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby and all the other city officials for their support. We love it here and we would not be leaving if this opportunity back home had not come up. It was just an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.

Ameel said “Tennis a sport people of all ages can play and the facilities here are phenomenal.”

Kelley said the Ameels did a great job here and he wishes them well.

“We hate to lose the Ameels, but they got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I don’t blame them for taking it,” Kelley said.

Before coming to Bainbridge in February, Ameel had been director of adult and junior tennis programs at James Creek Tennis Center in Cumming, Ga., since September 2005.

Before going to James Creek, he had his own business in Atlanta named Tennis N-Training and was a consultant to a lot of tennis academies in Atlanta and the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA).

He has done speaking engagements for USTA and high school coaches. He has also worked with some of the top junior players in the country.