Let the games begin

College tennis stars, Chicago hoops legends play at free events in town this weekend

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By Marty Farmer

Sports Editor

Tennis Anyone?

The River Forest Collegiate Invitational will be held this weekend.

On Friday & Saturday, September 13 & 14, the fourth annual River Forest Collegiate Invitational tennis tournament will be held with matches starting both days at 9 a.m. and running till about 6:30 p.m. on Friday and 4/4:30 p.m. on Saturday. The River Forest Tennis Club (615 Lathrop Avenue, River Forest; (708) 771-7783) is the primary tournament site, while the Oak Park Tennis Center (544 North Harlem Avenue; 708.366.9652) is a secondary venue. The tournament is free and tennis fans are encouraged to check out the exciting action!

The following Division I men's teams will be participating in the tournament:

Belmont University (Nashville, Tenn.)

Butler University (Indianapolis, Ind.)

Morehead State University (Morehead, Ky.)

Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, Ill.)

St. Louis University (St. Louis, Mo.)

University of Illinois at Chicago (Chicago, Ill.)

Valparaiso University (Valparaiso, Ind.)

Youngstown State University (Youngstown, Ohio)


John Griffin, a past President of the River Forest Tennis Club and the tournament's director, is thrilled about this year's event.

"It's a free event featuring outstanding mens college tennis teams and coaches," said Griffin, who played college tennis at NIU. "We're hoping people come out to support the tournament and just have a lot of fun watching tennis at our wonderful tennis club which is filled with history."

It's an official ITA event and will have USTA umpires/referee on site at all times. UIC is the host school.  Matches are played on the Har-Tru courts, all with the latest hydro-grid underground watering system. The event will look to move indoors in the event of inclement weather. Play will include three rounds of singles and three rounds of doubles for all players/teams which includes main draw, back draw and consolation rounds. The tournament is rapidly becoming one of the premier Midwest collegiate tennis events in the fall season.

The River Forest Tennis Club, the tournament's primary host site, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and for many years hosted the U.S. National Men's Clay Courts, as well as the River Forest Junior Open and Girls' 18 & Under National Clay Court Championships. Several tennis legends have played at the RFTC including Arthur Ashe, Althea Gibson, Pancho Segura and Jennifer Capriati.

Hoops Legends to play charity game in Oak Park

On Saturday, September 14 at the St. Catherine Church gymnasium (27 N. Austin) in Oak Park, the Brandon Cox BLC Live Life Cancer Foundation charity basketball game will be held, bringing numerous Chicago basketball legends back on the court all in the name of charity of fellowship within the Oak Park and Austin communities. The game tips off at 5 p.m. and is free to the public.

Organized by Brandon Cox, a former Austin High School and Kennedy King College basketball star, the game will feature a plethora of former Chicago hoops stars in action including Ronnie Fields (Farragut High School), Imari Sawyer (King High School/De Paul University) Paul McPherson (De Paul/Phoenix Suns), Steven Hunter (Proviso East High School/played for five NBA teams) Randy Holcomb (Lincoln Park High School/Chicago Bulls) David Bailey (Westinghouse High School), Awvee Storey (Proviso West High School/Arizona State University), Jamaal Brown (Westinghouse High School/Oklahoma State University), Chris Jones (Austin High School/Reinhardt College), Michael Cox (Brandon's brother) and Jelani Floyd (Whitney Young High School/Florida Atlantic).

"Cancer is taking people away from this world in so many different ways," says Cox, who is still visible in the Austin community. "I'm basically using basketball as a tool to reach out to people."

Former Chicago Bulls player Marcus Fizer, a close friend of Cox, is also scheduled to fly in from Las Vegas to participate in the game.

The game is being played to support the fight against cancer, and free clothes will also be given on site to the homeless, sponsored by Cox's mother, Karla Cox-Naptali and her ministry (Hands of Hope for You). DJ Ransom will also keep the music pumping during all the festivities.

Cox believes this year's game is just the start of hopefully an annual celebration slated to include a dinner, auction and, of course, plenty of serious hoops all with the good intentions of helping people.

"I'm planning to have this every year. It will be part of the Brandon Cox weekend, which I'll have a dinner on Saturday with an auction and on Sunday will be the game," says Cox. "I know next year, I won't be able to have it at St. Catherine. I plan on having it at UIC or somewhere [bigger]."

On a personal level, I want to give a shout out to Brandon, who has done a wonderful job organzing and promoting this upcoming charity basketball game. For hard core hoops fans, families, friends, children or people who just want to come out and have fun by taking in plenty of basketball, music and fellowship, this game promises to be electrifying and entertaining as Ronnie Fields finishing off a fast break dunk!

Cox is encouraging everyone to donate, at the minimum, five dollars to www.stjude.org. Those wanting to offer their service to volunteer can e-mail daonetwo34@gmail.com.


#13 Johnny Westmorland

#2 Devonte Carr

#50 Jabbar Battle

#4 Terrence Pouncy

#0 Ken Deer

#23 Ronnie Fields

#1 Alan Brown

#58 Juice Henry

#10 Jamaal Brown

#30 Armond Williams

#3 Reggie Brown

#6 Randy Holcomb



#34 Brandon Cox

#6 Khalif Houston

#9 Nate Henry

#10 Michael Cox

#23 Paul McPherson

#12 David Bailey

#30 Jelani Floyd

#8 Pierre Carr

#18 Dominique Perry

#22 Dad Butch

#15 Imari Sawyer

#33 Chris Jones

Contributing: Chris Cason

Email: marty@oakpark.com Twitter: @OakParkSports

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