Citi and Frances Tiafoe encourage investment in student-athletes and HBCU tennis programs

The Citi Open demonstrates the financial institution’s commitment to investing in the future of HBCU’s tennis athletes and programs.

Professional men’s tennis player Frances Tiafoe and Morgan State head tennis coach Matthew Townes participate in HBCU-related activities for the Citi Open clinic at the William HG FitzGerald Tennis Center at Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC, on 1st of August.

The Citi-sponsored event allowed local HBCU tennis players to meet and play with Tiafoe and learn from coaches at the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation (WTEF). A deserving student-athlete has received a $10,000 scholarship for his studies at an HBCU. The funds will be used for various expenses (tuition, room and board, books, school supplies, etc.), and the student was recognized on the field during the Citi Open.

“At Citi, we are always looking for ways to provide HBCU students with helpful tools on their path to career success and to celebrate their accomplishments,” said Kristen Solheim, director of government affairs at Citi. “We are thrilled to host this clinic with WTEF and support them as their organization awards a deserving student a $10,000 scholarship to attend an HBCU. We continue to use our partnerships in sports and entertainment to make advance this work.”

Citi invests in the education and sports activities of HBCUs. Morgan State’s head tennis coach, Matt Townes, told HBCU Legends, “At Morgan State, we’re always looking for new ways to grow with new management. That’s exactly what we’re doing. I think that this Citi-provided WTEF clinic is a great opportunity to connect with the community and see and experience it all firsthand while providing opportunities for the growth of HBCU as a whole, not just Morgan State.

Matthew Townes


What is the value to Citi in sponsoring this clinic and supporting HBCUs and Morgan State?

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“Having this Citi-sponsored WTEF clinic, along with other HBCU-related clinics, is fundamental to the growth of HBCU tennis programs. It gives aspiring young tennis players the opportunity to compete and play at a high level. Also, it exposes our HBCU programs as an option for the type of kids we are looking for, especially Morgan State It’s great that Citi is supporting WTEF as they are offering a $10,000 grant to a student to finance their studies in an HBCU, which can be used through various expenses.This support allows students to focus on their studies and training.

Will your players also be attending games and watching the pros later in the week?

“Oh, absolutely! It’s such a great opportunity to have young people really learning first-hand from some of the greatest in the world like Frances [Tiafoe]Venus [Williams]Sloan [Stephens], and many others ! They help represent and raise the profile of the tennis community and inspire young black players in DC and the United States, especially those looking to play on one of the biggest stages.”

Questions and answers from FRANCES TIAFOE

What do you think of how the Citi Open Clinic is helping develop the game for HBCU student-athletes and young players in the DC area? And working with Citi to develop the game of tennis?

“Participating in the Citi Open and joining Citi and the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF) in directly empowering young Black people is an honor and a privilege. It’s nice to take a break from competition and share some of my own stories personal and life lessons with aspiring HBCU students Representation in tennis is imperative, and I am honored to be a local figure to show what is capable in the sport while providing exposure to the programs of HBCU tennis across the United States.

What advice do you have for HBCU programs and players to help give back to the game of tennis in DC and across the country?

Being able to give back directly to the community that raised me and offer guidance to aspiring youngsters and current HBCU students is extremely rewarding. I am grateful to Citi for investing in the future of these students and supporting the WTEF with a scholarship for their studies. My advice is that there will be challenges along the way, but it’s so important to seize the opportunities when they arise because you may never have them again. If you never take that picture and put in the work, the opportunity will pass you by.”

How important is it for you to work not only with male players but also with female players at the event?

“With the return of the WTA to the Citi Open, it is clear that equality within our tennis community is a priority. We try to influence the next generation of tennis players, men and women. Participating in the WTEF clinic, sponsored by Citi, is an opportunity to celebrate HBCU tennis programs that young tennis players can pursue while providing exposure and opportunity – which I think is essential in trying to create equitable change in our industry.”