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The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

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The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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Coaching with care: Tyrone Mason

Local tennis coach acts as the eyes and ears of 49th and Dorchester
Ryan Burke-Stevenson
CONNECTING THE COMMUNITY. Local tennis coach Tyron Mason interacts with the Kenwood community as he coaches. He builds relationships with his students along with the neighborhood, becoming a well-known figure in the area.

As long as it’s not snowing, raining or freezing, anyone walking past the Kenwood Community Park tennis courts will see the same coach with his signature lawn chair, camped out on the courts for the day, teaching and making friendly conversation with members of the neighborhood. 

His job as a local tennis coach has helped Tyrone Mason become involved in the Kenwood community, allowing him to connect with his students and the neighborhood.

Mr. Mason started playing tennis when he was 19 years old, after graduating from high school on the south side of Chicago. He first played against a friend of his, and was defeated — but the experience only made Mr. Mason want to improve.  

“I decided, OK, well, I’m just gonna play until I learn how to get good enough to beat him, and then I’ll stop,” Mr. Mason said. “But from there, it just kept growing and growing.”

As Mr. Mason fell in love with the sport, he quit his previous job as a window washer and worked hard to get better at tennis. 

“It was a challenge that I could not conquer. So I wanted to see if I could conquer it,” Mr. Mason said. “And I still haven’t conquered it.”

Throughout his tennis career, Mr. Mason played many tournaments, traveled, and met and taught famous people. Here in Kenwood, he taught Malia and Sasha Obama. 

When he first started playing, Mr. Mason did not expect tennis to be his future career.

“I was young, and it was a journey that I didn’t really set out to embark on,” Mr. Mason said. “But once I embarked on it, I saw that it was really fulfilling — especially working with the kids — because there’s always something new that they bring to the table.”

Four years after being introduced to the sport, he started working as a coach at the Hyde Park Tennis Club, and 10 years after that, he decided to leave and become a private tennis coach.   

“Coaching gives me the opportunity to meet the people that live in the neighborhood — gives me an opportunity to meet the parents, watch the kids grow up,” Mr. Mason said. 

Mr. Mason teaches the kids of Lab parent Mistry Cherenfant. Ms. Cherenfant always saw Mr. Mason teaching at the neighborhood courts, and knew friends who had him as their coach. So, when her kids needed an outdoor hobby during the pandemic, Ms. Cherenfant contacted Mr. Mason. 

“He doesn’t just see them as a tennis player. He sees them as a whole child,” Ms. Cherenfant said, “and I appreciate that about him.”

Second grader Gage Cherenfant, one of her children, likes Mr. Mason’s teaching style. 

“Sometimes he’s strict and sometimes he’s funny. So like, if you don’t want a strict teacher that’s always like, ‘do this, do that,’” Gage said, “but like, other times he’s funny.”

Mr. Mason does not view coaching solely as his job, but also as an opportunity to connect with the Kenwood community around him.

“I like the Kenwood community because it’s a different, diverse kind of people that I’ve come in contact with — just all races, creeds, and just different personalities and nationalities that I come in contact with,” Mr. Mason said. “It’s different from where I grew up.”

Lab parent Cheryl Rudbeck knows Mr. Mason because he teaches one of her daughters. She has noticed his connection with the neighborhood and how he protects her kids — even those who do not take lessons with him.

“He is very involved in the Kenwood community. He has coached lots of adults and gone on to coach their children,” Ms. Rudbeck said, “and he’s always looking out for the kids.”

Mr. Mason looks after kids in the neighborhood as if they were his own. While teaching on the courts, he makes sure they are getting back and forth from school without any trouble. 

“The community knows that it’s sort of a safe environment around the courts when I’m there,” Mr. Mason said, “because I look after the block to see what’s going on.”

Ms. Cherenfant also notices how Mr. Mason watches over the community when he teaches. 

“He is always just sitting on the courts. Everybody who walks by, he knows them or he acknowledges them,” Ms. Cherenfant said. “In addition to being a tennis coach, he is for the community. He is the eyes and ears of 49th and Dorchester.”

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About the Contributors
Jaya Alenghat
Jaya Alenghat, City Life Editor
Jaya Alenghat is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as an assistant editor. She began journalism in the 2022-23 school year as a sophomore. Her favorite story she has written is “In finding community, English teacher provides comfort for Latinx students.” Outside of journalism, she enjoys playing tennis, reading and spending time with friends and family. Awards: 2024 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, sports news story: excellent 2024 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: Certificate of merit, sports features, “Muslim student athletes navigate fasting during Ramadan while maintaining physical endurance” 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, Boston convention: Excellent, news writing
Ryan Burke-Stevenson
Ryan Burke-Stevenson, Photographer
Ryan Burke-Stevenson is a photojournalist and a member of the Class of 2025. His favorite part of photojournalism is being able to give a visual aspect to stories. Outside of photojournalism, Ryan is interested in cooking and cycling. Awards: 2024 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, non-sports photo: superior 2023 Association of Texas Photography Instructors Fall Contest, advertising, first honorable mention

Comments (5)

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  • J

    Jerlyn MaloyFeb 25, 2024 at 12:26 pm

    Tyrone Mason is a “positive catalyst” to our community in Kenwood. He is a positive image to his students as well as a great tennis coach.

    Jerlyn Maloy

  • K

    KFeb 22, 2024 at 1:53 pm

    I have had the pleasure of working with Mr. Mason both professionally and personally. The gift that has been to the community and my som is immeasurable and without value.

    Mr. Mason is a phenomenal man of stature, character and boldness. His tenacious spirit and willingness to see the success of children is a rare treasure that i have found in him. I am forever grateful to have him as a pillar in the community and my son’s life.

  • M

    Margaret DorseyFeb 21, 2024 at 10:59 am

    Such a wonderful story about a wonderful man! I am 71 years old and live at 48th and Lake Park. Tyrone Mason was my team tennis coach in the 90s and now a very good friend. He continues to amaze me with his interest and dedication to the sport of tennis and to humankind wherever he finds him. One great man!!

  • C

    Claudia KempFeb 21, 2024 at 10:04 am

    My first Coach at the Hyde Park Tennis and racket Club on 47th and Lake Park. Since then my son and now my Grandson.
    Coach Mason is not just a tennis Coach but a fixture in the community that as a Parent or Grandparent we know that his coaching goes past tennis! More important so do the players.
    Congratulations Coach

  • L

    Lisa SykesFeb 20, 2024 at 6:47 pm

    The Mayor of Hyde Park! Coach Mason!!!