LIVES IN: Morgan Park. ORIGINALLY FROM: South Shore. AGE: 37. CLAIM TO FAME: The coach of 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens, Murray opened the $15 million, 112,000-square-foot XS Tennis Village (5336 S. State; Xstennis.org) in Washington Park in December, offering coaching and need-based scholarships to kids in the community. LOVE OF THE GAME: “Growing up on the South Side, [my parents] worked summers and needed a place to stash me,” Murray says. “One year, when I was 7, all the Chicago Park District sports camps had filled up in my neighborhood, except for tennis. I ended up playing every day and then continuing in after-school programs. After two years, it became my identity.” GETTING SCHOOLED: Eventually, Murray’s skills earned him a full tennis scholarship to Florida A&M University, where he also got his MBA. After a few years in pharmaceutical sales, he turned back to the game. What began as coaching five kids after work blossomed into 25 kids and the birth of the XS Tennis and Education Foundation in 2008. Now, 2,500 kids ages 4 and up practice at the new 27-court facility. With grant money from companies like Ariel Investments and tennis greats like Billie Jean King, Murray empowers kids to approach the game with confidence, and, in many cases, earn full-ride college scholarships. “In the moment, kids don’t appreciate the push and intensity of the lessons,” Murray admits. “But they look back and say, ‘That guy changed my life.’ ” MELTING POT: “I ask myself ‘How do we make U.S. tennis, and even tennis in Chicago, resemble what it’s like around the world?’ ” Murray says, commenting on the diversity of race and class he sees represented in the sport as he travels to events like Wimbledon. “The goal at XS is achieving together, whether you’re poor, middle-class, upper-class or even oblivious to circumstance.” FAMILY TIES: When he’s not coaching or traveling, Murray loves spending time with his family — he has three kids, ages 18 months, 3 and 13.
Shot on location at XS Tennis, 5336 S. State | Photos by Lisa Hinsberger Photography