On August 25, XS Tennis invited community members and partners to celebrate the groundbreaking of its new facility. The New XS Tennis Village, located in Washington Park, will include two dozen full-size indoor and outdoor tennis courts, indoor and outdoor basketball courts, a 150-meter track and 7 class / multipurpose rooms. The new multi-million dollar facility will host tennis lessons for thousands of students, along with tutoring in a range of subjects. It will be the only tennis facility on the South Side of Chicago and the second in the country founded and operated by an African American.
Tony Smith (SVP of Community Development, PNC), Kamau Murray (founder and President, XS Tennis), Wendell Harris (Director of Lending Operations, CCLF) and Calvin L. Holmes (President, CCLF) celebrating the XS Tennis Village Groundbreaking
CCLF provided XS Tennis with a $1,300,000 loan for construction, joining PNC, US Bank, Urban Partnership Bank and National Community Investment Fund (NCIF) in financing the project. Kamau Murray is the visionary behind XS Tennis. He began playing tennis at age seven as a way for his mother to have a safe place for him to go after school. He stayed with the sport and garnered a 4-year college scholarship playing tennis then went on the pro circuit. His attention turned to coaching after playing pro and he gained prominence when his student, Taylor Townsend, became the first African American to win the Junior Wimbledon Open at age 16.
Murray’s training camp became wildly successful with hundreds of parents wanting to be coached by Murray, but his current location had many challenges including lack of space, a faulty roof and a lease that was coming to an end. That is when he set his mind on creating XS Tennis.
“I want to provide world class programming in a community that needs it most,” said Murray. Murray’s program currently sends more African American students to Division One Colleges on tennis scholarships than any other tennis club in the country. XS Tennis will be a resource for Chicago’s youth to gain access to opportunities for higher education and become future champions. What makes Murray’s approach unique is the subsidies he offers to Chicago Housing Authority residents and other students attending Chicago Public schools. They will get the same coaching and tutoring being offered to youth from higher-income households. Hard work ethic, talent and determination will determine whether his kids can enter a tournament, not income level. Murray uses tennis as a tool to engage youth and help them think about their future in a different way. He describes how tennis provides the skills youth will use for a lifetime, “I don’t teach kids to play tennis. I teach kids to win!”