Chicago, a huge market long undeserved by tennis of any description, will be home to a new World Team Tennis expansion franchise this summer.
The Chicago Smash will be coached by Chicago native Kamau Murray, and play its home matches at Credit Union 1 Arena at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The Smash will debut on the road July 13 against the two-time defending WTT champion Springfield Lasers. The next night, they’ll host the Lasers in Chicago.
With Murray, comes his player, Sloane Stephens.
Stephens will play “select matches” this summer. Also signed on is Chicago native Evan King.
Hopefully, the team will be able to get Donald Young and Taylor Townsend, the two highest-profile players with Chicago roots, to play as well.
WTT Chicago history spotty
Back in 1973, with World Team Tennis was a huge thing, Chicago was one of the league’s eight charter franchises.
Called the Aces, they played at the Lakeshore Racquet Club and were owned by Billie Jean King’s then-husband, Larry.
This … did not end well, apparently. And the team only lasted a year.
By 1982 they were back. They played one season as the “Aces”. They returned in 1983 as the “Fyre”, then were renamed the “Fire” as they muddled along a few more season until closing the doors in 1986.
Last year, WTT expanded to Orlando and Las Vegas. The prize money on offer this year is up to $5 million, with another $1 million for playoff compensation.
It should be noted that the Credit Union 1 Arena is a … really big arena. Also, it’s indoors.