The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced plans to bring three professional tennis events to the South Side of Chicago with a Chicago Tennis Festival in August.
The event kicked off Saturday, August 14, at the XS Tennis Village at 54th and State Street, as the group hosted a college tennis recruiting combine for minority students to connect with tennis coaches from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).
The combine offered players an opportunity to show off their skills for HBCU coaches who had tennis scholarships to offer for the fall of 2022.
The event also featured the first African-American host and the first African-American female tournament director, whose goal is to help bridge the accessibility gap in the sport across racial and socioeconomic divides.
The Chicago Tennis Festival will also introduce a unique atmosphere to high-level professional tennis.
It is the first professional tournament promoted by an African American, Kamau Murray, founder of the XS Tennis and Education Foundation, who formerly coached U.S. Open winner Sloane Stephens and Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig.
The festival will also have the first African-American female tournament director in more than 25 years, former top-level pro player Zina Garrison.
“A major part of our mission is providing children from our urban communities a chance to learn tennis, grow personally and athletically, and to expose them to opportunities they might not otherwise have access to,” Murray said. “Further, the festival will draw on its pool of local youngsters to serve as ball kids for the tournaments and allow them to see professional tennis up close.”
A WTA 125 and two WTA 250 International events are planned for August and September during key weeks on the women’s tour. The WTA 125 event ($125,000 total prize money and ranking points) is scheduled for August 16-22.
The first WTA 250 ($250,000 prize money and ranking points) event will run from August 23-28, the week before the U.S. Open. Another WTA 250 International event will run from September 27-October 3, the week before the BNP Paribas Open/Indian Wells tournament.
XS Tennis, a sprawling athletic complex over 13 acres, boasts 15 outdoor courts and 12 indoor courts, a fitness center, and classrooms. It is located in a primarily low-income area of Chicago, adding to the festival’s uniqueness. The tournament will use three stadium courts, four practice courts for the players, seating for 2,000 spectators, and a food court. Ticket prices will range from $5 to $75.
Proceeds from the festival will help fund the XS Tennis and Education Foundation and its larger mission to provide Chicago’s youth with a positive pathway to college through community-based tennis and an academic enrichment program. For tickets and updates, visit chicago-tennisfestival.com.
Below is a list of Marquee Players who will play in the tournament:
Amanda Anisimova is the third-youngest player ranked in the top 100 by the Women’s Tennis Association and has a career-high ranking of No. 21 in the world.
With a career-high ranking of No. 14 by the WTA, Vondroušová finished runner-up at the 2019 French Open, where she became the FIRST teenage Grand Slam finalist on the WTA Tour since Caroline Wozniacki nearly a decade earlier.
Camila is considered to be one of the hardest hitters of the ball on tour.
In 2018, Vandeweghe won her first Grand Slam title, partnering with Ash- leigh Barty at the U.S. Open. Later on, they reached the semifinals at the 2018 WTA Finals, lifting Vandeweghe to a new career-high ranking of No. 14.
In May of 2017, she won an ITF tournament in Dunakeszi (Hungary) without dropping a set, becoming the youngest Ukrainian to win a professional singles title.
She has won four singles and three doubles titles on the ITF Circuit. Tomljanovi was an accomplished junior player, having won the 2009 Australian Open girls’ doubles title with Christina McHale.
At the St. Petersburg Ladies’ Trophy, Kristina Mladenovic won her first- round match against Elise Mertens before winning against Venus Williams to reach the Quarterfinals.
In 2014, Cornet became known for defeating world No. 1 Serena Williams on THREE occasions.
She started playing tennis at six and won her first junior grand slam title at the age of 15. The athlete became one of the youngest ever to win a junior grand slam only nine years after she started training as a tennis star.
Emma Raducanu has won THREE singles titles on the ITF Circuit. At the 2021 Wimbledon Championships, Raducanu entered as a wildcard on her Grand Slam debut and advanced to the fourth round.
Over her career, Cîrstea has defeated 13 Top-10 players, including: Sara Errani, Caroline Wozniacki, Johanna Konta and Venus Williams.
Known for playing with two hands and aggressive volleys, Hsieh is regard- ed as one of the most successful and versatile doubles players in history.
She is a former top-five player in singles and former world No. 1 in doubles! She has won NINE WTA singles titles and 27 doubles titles.
She has a career-high ranking of No. 15 by the Women’s Tennis Association and has reached SEVEN finals on the WTA Tour, winning two of them.
Watson is the first British woman to win a Grand Slam title since Jo Durie in 1991, and the first to win a Wimbledon title since Durie in 1987.
Joseph Phillips is the Sports Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].
Joseph Phillips is the Sports Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago.