Five Seasons Tennis Pro Keeps it Fun, Makes Sure Players Learn at Own Pace
A newcomer to the tennis staff at Five Seasons Family Sports Club in Northbrook, Mel Ampon is hardly a new kid on the block, either.
In fact, he comes from a notably successful tennis family in the Philippines.
Among other relatives who had great success on the court, his aunt, Desidera, and his grandfather, Felix, were national champions; his father, Felicisimo, was likewise extremely successful as a pro and respected coach.
So it’s only natural that Ampon has not only picked up the passion for tennis, but passed it along to his children. Among his favorite playing memories are winning a pair of national indoor father-daughter championships: the first when his daughter, Marcela, was 12 and the second one two years later.
She and her brother, Marcus, both played tennis at Highland Park High School. But Ampon's impact extends well beyond family—he has coached a wide spectrum of people over more than 30 years as a tennis professional at a variety of clubs in the Chicago area.
His coaching career coincided with a notable playing career in his own right. Among other highlights, he was ranked #1 in the Philippines in 1974 and selected to Philippine Davis Cup team.
In addition, he was a standout at Southern Illinois University, playing in the sixth spot for the tennis squad as a freshman before moving up to the team’s No. 2 slot for a year and wrapping up with two years as SIU’s top player.
Ampon competed in qualifying rounds of the U.S. Open for several years in the early 1980s, as well as on the USTA Satellite and Summer Grand Prix levels, rising as high as #390 in the ATP rankings. In addition, he played professional tennis in Germany into his mid-30s, facing the likes of Jensen Murphy, Mel Purcell, Jared Palmer, Eric Iskersky and Todd Witskin.
And more recently, in 2004, he and a partner, John Karzen, finished second in the Illinois State Men’s Doubles tournament.
Eventually, Ampon wants to return to the Philippines to develop tennis talent there. Meanwhile, he is equally equipped to work with students who are focused on having fun and those who are focused on competing at the highest possible level.
“I relate to each player on his or her terms,” he explains. “I keep it simple, so the average player can learn and play a good, fun game of tennis. You can’t complicate the process—otherwise they’re going to be frustrated.”
In 1978, Ampon earned a degree from SIU in comprehensive planning in design, with a specialization in visual communications. He resides in Highland Park with his wife, Elmar.
For more information about various programs and classes available at Five Seasons, visit the club at 1300 Techny Road, go online to /www.facebook.com/FiveSeasonsNorthbrook or call 847-897-5030.