By Austin Russell

My time helping the XS Tennis Foundation has been a great experience. It has given me the chance to help hone my marketing skills and set myself up for future opportunities. I have been involved with XS for a large portion of my tennis career. Kamau Murray has always been like a brother to me and shown me nothing but kindness, so for me to be able to help him out now is something that I hold dear to me. 

Over the last few months I have been able to help him market the message of XS Tennis. XS Tennis’ mission is giving people the opportunity to play a sport that financially might not have been an option for them. This message is rare to find in the tennis world because it can be a very expensive sport compared to others. XS offers scholarships and helps pay for housing for those who need it that are involved in the organization. We have worked on video material to give donors the opportunity to get to know the kids that are associated with us in hopes for them to also help out the students with their expenses. 

Covid has been a real challenge in the tennis world and here in Chicago multiple facilities have had to close down due to outbreaks. So, we have been constantly coming up with ways as well to keep the members of the organization safe. We work on a lot of protocol and go over it with employees weekly on what the best practices would be.

Covid has also opened up opportunities for us to give Chicagoland students a chance to get the academy feeling throughout their day. We have formed a program that allows students to do their virtual learning from our classrooms while also being socially distanced and play tennis and workout between their screen time.

XS Tennis Village

We are giving them the academy feeling because normally kids are going to school the entire day and then go practice after school from about 5-7 PM. Whereas at an academy you are on court for about 4-6 hours a day. So what we are doing – since kids are doing remote learning – is allowing them to basically spend their entire day at XS. They start out with school in the morning, then they go out and practice, then have lunch and return back to the schooling in the classrooms. Then after school is completed for the day they go back to the courts and finish out in a group lesson. We are taking advantage of the situation and trying to make positives things come out of it since we are given more hours in the day with students.

I have also been doing some email outreach for XS. Reaching out to current members keeping them updated. Connecting with donors to keep them involved with what is going on at the facility and how we are helping our kids be better in tennis and life as well.

The ITA’s national service program Tennis For America invests in college tennis graduates in order to fight inequality through tennis. Learn how you can support Tennis For America.

Learn more about Austin’s path to XS Tennis!
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