US Open Art Courts x Chase: The Inner City Tennis Project

July 22, 2018 04:35 PM

From Arthur Ashe to the Williams sisters, public courts have nurtured and built US Open champions. The USTA, in partnership with Chase and our National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) network, will build upon its shared mission to strengthen communities through tennis and art by restoring five public-court facilities in five markets.

Here is a look at the Inner City Tennis Project, an NJTL organization based in Cincinnati, where artist collective Xylene made the public Triangle Tennis Courts their canvas the week of July 16.

Established in 1986, Cincinnati’s Inner City Tennis Project (ICTP) provides an affordable tennis experience to local children, with an emphasis on increasing participation of inner-city youth.

Cincinnati Tennis Hall of Famers Tony Pack and Rachel Fair, the volunteer founders and directors of ICTP, met in the 1970s while working at a Cincinnati Recreation Committee (CRC) summer camp. They soon hatched a plan to develop a year-round program so that children in lower-income families could stay connected to the sport during the school year and keep pace with their would-be opponents.

Today, after more than 30 successful years of operation, the ICTP continues to help children achieve their personal goals and succeed both in tennis and in life.

The organization’s tagline – “Keeping children on the court, not in court” – is a nod to the far-reaching impact its programs can have, as Pack and Fair support their students well beyond the tennis court. In addition to extensive on-court coaching, they also instill lessons on nutrition and fitness and provide academic support in a nurturing social environment.

Over 60 ICTP students have received Division I and II scholarships to date, including offers from Columbia and Duke.

The program has moved through a variety of local indoor locations over the years, but their outdoor home has long been the Losantville Triangle Tennis Courts in the Clifton neighborhood of Cincinnati.

This month, the ICTP will be given the gift of art from the USTA in conjunction with Chase, when those Losantville Triangle courts will be transformed into an immersive art experience by local artist collective Xylene.

“To be part of a national initiative and to have our kids know that what they’re doing stretches further than just the neighborhood and the playground, that’s really exciting,” said Pack.

The importance of expanding horizons is often stressed by ICTP coaches, who view this initiative as an opportunity to put that lesson into practice.

Centrally located as a jewel of Greater Cincinnati, the courts are often a hub of activity. Fair is excited about how the Art Courts initiative will help grow the game even further in the area.

“It will be a showpiece for the city of Cincinnati and for tennis,” she said.

“The kids are going to be overjoyed and I think even more proud to have people come and see where they play.”

See the final results here!