Tennis court offers lessons to South Side youth

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On a tennis court on Chicago's South Side, some young tennis players are learning from one of the greatest. (WLS)

On a tennis court on Chicago's South Side, some young tennis players are learning from one of the greatest.

In retirement, Billy Jean King has made it her mission to give back, and she spent some time in Chicago to inspire some young students to do their best.

"If I were a child again, this is the kind of place I'd want to be," King said. "First of all I'm going to make new friends, relationships are so important and they are everything."

That's a mantra shared by Kamau Murray, who founded XS Tennis. Murray and King became fast friends, not just over their love for the game, but also for helping put kids on equal footing, no matter their economic background.

"Whether you are talking about gender equality or racial equality or equality of opportunities across the city, it's the same mission," said Murray. "We're very proud to be located on the South Side and within the reach of people who don't have a lot of other options."

XS Tennis offers free or low cost coaching to kids who couldn't otherwise afford it.

"I just love the vision that he has for South Chicago," said King. "He's trying to make it so a kid can come there and reach their potential and know that anything is possible."

And the students completely appreciate it.

"To have this place to come to every day after school is something other people don't have," said Corinne Salter, a student. "I can say I do work hard at something I love."

"Not a lot of tennis clubs can have a professional tennis player come to their club and watch us play and give us advice, so it's pretty cool," said student Mackenzie Beckham.

Later this year, Kamau will get to reach even more kids by opening a $9 million 12 court facility in Washington Park.

"We see this as being a community hub not just a tennis facility," said Murray. "Everyone is not going to want to play tennis but the center is going to be a place where kids regardless of their interest can come and find a safe haven after school, meet new friends and develop into great young adults."

For more information about XS Tennis, click here.
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