$9.8 million tennis facility to benefit youth, community, and University

Chicago’s XS Tennis club unveiled plans to construct a 22-acre facility in Washington Park, to be completed spring 2015.

By Zachary Themer

Last Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago’s XS Tennis club unveiled plans for a new $9.8-million tennis facility to be constructed in nearby Washington Park.

In what is sure to be a forehand winner for the city, XS Tennis, and the area’s various children and families, the 112,000-square-foot facility will house eight indoor and 19 outdoor tennis courts. University of Chicago tennis teams will also call this new facility home.

Chicago’s XS Tennis was founded in 2008 and since then has transformed the viability of tennis in the city as it serves over 2,000 Chicago students from 10 different schools across the area.

“XS Tennis has been a tremendous success,” Mayor Emanuel said in a press release. “It’s important that our kids have access to safe activities and strong role models, and this new facility will provide a world-class space for young people across Chicago to train, to dream, and to discover their full potential.”

Furthermore, XS Tennis looks beyond simply providing opportunities to play tennis in the area. Through its Tennis XSpress program and a partnership with the University of Chicago, the company will continue to provide students in the area with free tutoring, homework assistance, and programs to instill values of teamwork, confidence, and camaraderie, as it has for about a year now.

“Our goal is to form respectful, well-rounded, and dedicated student-athletes who excel on and off the court and in and out of the classroom, from elementary and high school to college and beyond,” XS Tennis states on its website.

Advancing this point, XS Tennis founder Kamau Murray commented on the importance of youth sports.

“As a graduate of the Chicago Public Schools, I know personally that the athletics programs I participated in were crucial to my development during a critical stage in my life,” Murray said.

As an example of XS Tennis fulfilling these goals, one needs to look no further than this year’s French Open and at Taylor Townsend, an 18-year-old Chicago-area native and member of XS Tennis since its inception. She has trained under Murray for the past seven years. Just last week, Townsend used the skills she honed on the courts of the South Side to advance to the third round of one of the four majors in professional tennis.

Aside from Townsend, local families, and the anticipated 2,000 new students who will gain access to the XS Facilities, the new Washington Park construction project will also have an impact on the University of Chicago tennis team, as the Maroons’ men’s and women’s tennis teams currently practice at the XS Tennis facility at the LA Fitness on East 47th Street. With the addition of the new 22-acre facility, the UChicago tennis squads, and other students as well, will gain access to a new, state-of-the-art structure that will rival tennis centers around the country.

XS Tennis anticipates that it will begin construction on the $9.8 million facility in September of this year. It will be built on the former site of the Robert Taylor Homes, as a public housing project in the area from the 1960s until 2007. The anticipated completion date is spring 2015.