Mark Ein brings his can-do spirit to the tennis court
WASHINGTON -- At 43, Mark Ein has already made a fortune as a venture capitalist. Now, he's racking up wins in another venue — professional tennis.
Ein's tennis team, the Washington Kastles, won the World TeamTennis League's championship last month. Ein founded the team only two years ago, recruiting pro tennis star Serena Williams as its marquee player.
"None of it was about getting a trophy but about doing something for the city," says Ein. "That was so great to me."
Wishful thinking brought the franchise into being. Ein, a multimillionaire who grew up in Maryland and played tennis in high school, was chatting with a pro tennis-playing friend with the league and started thinking a tennis team would make a good sports addition in the hometown of the Washington Redskins, Nationals and Capitals.
Creating a suitable stadium for the team proved to be a major hurdle. Ein liked the site of the city's old convention center in downtown Washington, but the ground sloped badly. Engineers told him it could never be a tennis arena. Undaunted, Ein brought in 1,500 tons of asphalt to level the ground, and Kastles Stadium was born.
Friends say the same can-do spirit that made the Kastles a reality has contributed to Ein's success and helped him build a wealth of connections bridging Washington's business, political and social communities.
"He loves tennis, he loves the community, he's done an unbelievable job," says former tennis star Billie Jean King, the majority owner of the World TeamTennis League. "He's enthusiastic and well-connected, and knows everybody in the business, knows all the politicians."
What he's done with the Kastles also mirrors the outcomes of many of his business deals for two decades.
While a principal at the Carlyle Group in the 1990s, Ein led many of the giant private-equity firm's telecommunications deals. When he left in 1999 to start his company, he stayed focused on technology and telecommunications.