Mark Ein doesn’t live with many regrets.
But his one regret? That he didn’t play tennis for Penn.
After graduating from Wharton in 1987, Ein found roles on Wall Street and in a West Coast venture capital firm, continued onto business school, and returned to his hometown of Washington, D.C. to work for the prestigious Carlyle Group, a private equity firm.
It wasn't until his forties that he began playing in professional tennis tournaments, and he is the oldest person to ever receive an ATP doubles ranking.
“The flip side of [not playing at Penn] is that it's made me passionate about playing the sport [later in life],” Ein said. “I actually played seven or eight pro tennis tournaments and doubles in my forties.”
Growing up as a sports fanatic, it’s no surprise that Ein has made tennis his lifelong passion.
“When I was at Penn, I started to think about the vision of the life I wanted to create for myself,” Ein said. “In my most ambitious dreams, it included moving back to Washington, building some kind of business, and being able to have a role in the sports community in Washington.”
“That was what my greatest aspiration was,” he said.
Over 34 years later, Ein can proudly say that he’s achieved his greatest ambition.
Gaining valuable experience working in renowned firms across the United States, Ein put his knowledge to use. He founded the Venturehouse Group, a private equity holding company, and Kastle Systems, a security technology company.
By 1999, Ein had already achieved his most ambitious dreams. All that was left was to find a role in the D.C. sports community. Closely monitoring professional sports teams in the area, Ein looked for any chance to get involved.
Whenever a team looked close to being sold, Ein was there to try to find a way in. Whether it was the NHL’s Washington Capitals or the NFL’s Washington Football Team being sold, Ein’s desire to have a role in D.C. sports never waned.
“As the years went on I also came to have a deep appreciation for the important role that sports can play in bringing our community together,” Ein said. “That just fueled my passion even more to find a way to be involved.”
After being introduced by an acquaintance who was playing on the Pro Tour to World TeamTennis, Ein knew he had found his opportunity to get into Washington, D.C. sports.
In 2008, Ein founded the Washington — based expansion franchise of World TeamTennis, the Washington Kastles. In the Kastles’ 12 seasons, the team has finished with an impressive six championships and two undefeated siverwaeasons.
“In all those years that we dominated the league, we almost never had the highest payroll roster, we never had on paper the best team, but we had the team that was the most inspired,” Ein said. “I saw how because everyone was inspired to represent their community. Whether it's the players or the fans or the people who work for the team, the whole was much greater than the sum of the parts.”
After finally breaking into the professional sports scene in Washington, Ein turned his attention to the future of sports: esports.
“[Esports] was clearly an important sport for the next generation so we brought the Overwatch League over [to D.C.],” Ein said. “All of this was around that same notion that sports is the way to bring people together.”
Founded in 2018, the Overwatch League expansion franchise — Washington Justice — has been growing in popularity.
“Most traditional sports are declining or flat,” Ein said in an interview with the Washington City Paper. “Esports is exploding.”
Finally, the last part of Ein’s dream had been achieved. Not only does he have a role in the sports scene in Washington, but Ein is among the city’s leaders in the tennis and esports industries.
Although his dream of owning a sports franchise dates back to his childhood, Ein distinctly remembers one moment in particular that sparked his aspiration.
“I’ll never forget sitting in Steinberg–Dietrich Hall listening to Ed Snider, the [then]–owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, in 1982,” Ein said. “Josh Harris, [a close childhood friend and current co-owner of the 76ers], and I went together and sat next to each other as [Snider] was talking about Moses Malone and about owning a sports team.”
As fate would have it, both Ein and Harris went on to become influential sports leaders.
With Ein’s aspirations realized, it may not be long before students are lined up to hear Ein speak at Steinberg–Dietrich Hall.
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