BY Jerry Hicks | July 12, 2019 | People
Entrepreneur Mark Ein is set to win big with his purchase of the Citi Open tennis tourney, which enters its 51st year this month.
In Mark Ein’s youth, he served as a ball boy at DC’s highly popular Citi Open (citiopentennis.com) at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center, set this year for July 27 to Aug. 4. Now the whole thing is his.
“I had big dreams when I was young, but I never thought I would own the tournament I so loved as a kid,” Ein says.
The successful venture capitalist and entrepreneur has loved tennis his entire life. Eleven years ago, he created the Washington Kastles, an expansion franchise that competes in World TeamTennis. It’s named after Kastle Systems, an office security company Ein owns.
“The lessons you learn on the tennis court are life lessons,” Ein says. “You learn to rely on yourself, problem-solve, play fair, be resilient, and you need to learn to always get better.”
When the Citi Open tournament was put up for sale, bidding competition was heavy. It is one of the five largest tennis tourneys in the U.S. (it celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018). But all the bidders would have moved it to another city or country. Except for Ein, who won the right to manage the event with a five-year option to buy.
“It’s been such an important part of Washington; I just couldn’t let it go somewhere else,” he says. “It’s the only tennis tournament in the world played at a public park. This event is incredibly special.”
This year’s competition will include at least half the top 10 men’s players, plus 2017 U.S. Open women’s champion Sloane Stephens. Ein’s new slogan: A Washington summer tradition reimagined.
He’s determined to improve it. Better restaurant venues, better dining spaces, better parking, new seating, improved transportation to the tournament and a new stadium club. One of those changes can be seen courtside this month—dream seats at court level, at $4,000 each for the full tournament.
As busy as he is, Ein finds time to play. “The tennis court is my little oasis,” he says.
Photography Courtesy Of: Greg Powers; shot on location at rock creek park Tennis center