Ferris State University is a sweet spot for Professional Tennis Management, because every graduate has been offered a job since the program originated in 1986.
Ferris produces “the cream of the crop” because of its challenging curriculum and required internships, according to PTM Director Derek Ameel. As one of just four PTM programs in the United States, Ameel said Ferris is dedicated to education and successfully graduating PTM students as the best entry-level employees for the tennis industry.
“There are so many parts that go into making a quality and successful program,” Ameel said. “The key is synergy with the university departments, challenging students and mentoring them through their four years, and receiving support from our alumni, tennis industry organizations, and professionals. Doing these and striving for excellence will help us maintain our goal of 100 percent placement for decades to follow.”
Students hoping to enter the PTM program must achieve a 4.0 National Tennis Rating Program score from a USPTA professional or high school tennis coach and a 2.5 grade point average. PTM students earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Business with a concentration in Marketing or Resort Management. All students are required to complete three internships and six PTM classes.
Student internships have taken place at country clubs, resorts, tennis businesses and manufacturers throughout the United States and some internationally. Ferris students have fulfilled internships in locations as far away as Europe, Australia and South America.
Ferris’ PTM graduates have excelled within the tennis industry. Dave Bone, a 1994 graduate, is CEO of the United States Racquet Stringing Association, publisher of the Racquet Sports Industry Magazine, serves on the Tennis Association Board and is a contributing editor to Tennis Magazine. Since graduating in 1989 from Ferris, Patrick Kearns has become director of tennis for Farmington Country Club in Charlottesville, Va., which originated in 1744 and was designed in 1803 by Thomas Jefferson.
Other graduates ventured outside of the tennis profession, such as Dolphus Ramseur, who started his own record label, Ramseur Records, in 2000. Ramseur spent the previous 10 years in the tennis profession before transferring his knowledge into the music industry. He also manages The Avett Brothers, an award-winning folk rock band.
Nearly half of PTM majors receive job offers from their internships, Ameel said.
Because of the experience senior Justin Hermes has gained, he was offered a position in Washington, D.C. as the head tennis professional at Bretton Wood Country Club. Hermes previously interned at country clubs in Barrington, Ill., and in Harbor Springs, Mich. Hermes said the most unique part of being a PTM major is the opportunity to network and enhance his professional tennis career.
“In this program, the socializing you do carries on for the rest of your life,” said Hermes, of Colorado Springs, Colo. “These are the people you’re going to be connecting with for the rest of your life. You make lifelong friendships and much needed professional relationships. The staff members … they do such a great job. They all have such a heart for the program.”
Another reason why the Ferris program is unique, Ameel said, is because of the required on-going internship for the Racquet and Fitness Center, where students are required to help run the center each semester. Students must complete 100 hours of work each year, for a total of 400 hours of facility management experience to transfer into the real world before graduation.
“We help students make a huge transformation from their freshman year to their senior year. I teach them proper attitude and improve their understanding of true customer service,” said Ameel, a graduate of Ferris’ PTM program.
Spending more than 25 years as a coach, trainer and teacher, Ameel said he wanted to give back to the program he loved so much when he returned to Ferris in 2009.
“I wanted to be part of the next generation of tennis professionals going into the industry,” Ameel said. “I hope to improve their learning and take the PTM program to the next level.”
More than 60 students are enrolled in the program and about 25 percent are women. Ameel noted that the number of enrolled students fluctuates each year.