WeTransfer’s WePresent platform shares “unexpected stories about creativity.” Cedar pitched and wrote a new profile series, where she interviewed a tennis coach, an activist, a music engineer, and a teaching duo.
below is a condensed version of the original Kamau Murray story.
The night before the 2017 U.S. Open, tennis coach Kamau Murray found himself reassuring a nervous Sloane Stephens. He placed clear, plastic wrap over the hotel room television and drew his well-researched strategies on top of the screen.
Sloane, who was 24 and ranked 83rd at the time, had miraculously made it to the finals. The next day, she won.
Kamau had become accustomed to a bespoke, pre-match routine with Sloane, for whom he downloads YouTube footage of opponents and texts bullet-pointed game plans. He developed these approaches through coaching hundreds of kids at his XS Tennis Village in Chicago.
“When people look at a tennis court, they see a lot of boxes,” says Kamau. “They see three big boxes and two rectangles on the other side of the court. I actually don’t see the court that way. I see the tennis court like a kaleidoscope. I see angles of reflection, opportunities to redirect.”
Within this geometry of the tennis court, Kamau’s tactics are driven by constructing points through optimal positioning. “I see a lot of triangles on the other side of the court,” he adds. “Seeing the court this way helps to create ball patterns that win points.”
The U.S. Open was an unusual opportunity for Kamau to help Sloane on a human level. “To a kid, you coach every three shots, and to a pro, you coach every five,” he says. “Every now and then, that pro will give you a moment to coach them as if they were a young person. To Sloane’s credit, because of her maturity, her honesty and opening up that window when she needed my help — that’s why she won the US Open.”
Illustration: Miranda Jill Millen