By day – and I’m sure also by night – venture capitalist and successful entrepreneur Mark Ein spends his time slicing through potential investment opportunities for his holding company Venturehouse Group, LLC. But Ein is putting an entirely new spin on his portfolio as head of an ownership group that has brought a World TeamTennis Pro League franchise to Washington, DC for the first time in the league’s 33-year history.
Now I’m sure extensive due diligence was conducted on how receptive the DC market would be to a tennis franchise, but they needn’t have bothered. They could have just headed out to the Legg Mason Tennis Classic most any year to find an enthusiastic packed house brushing off what always seems to temperature and humidity levels on par with the surface of the sun (I have fond memories soaking through three separate shirts watching Andre Agassi outlast Stefan Edberg in the 1995 Classic).
According to last week’s press release, the Washington Kastles (those curious where the name originated from should check out last year’s ExecutiveBiz interview here) are the 11th franchise in the league and will begin play in early July at a location TBD. The team will select their co-ed lineup when drafting sixth at the league draft on April 1st. And to demonstrate that this franchise will not be embarking on a lengthy rebuilding plan (no need to get defensive Oriole fans), the Kastles yesterday signed eight-time grand champion Serena Williams to play during the upcoming season.
For Ein, leading the ownership team for the new franchise builds upon what is already an active role helping to advance the sport within the local community. Ein’s been involved as a board member or advisor for The Washington Tennis & Education Foundation, The Tennis Center at College Park and MidAtlantic Tennis and Education Foundation.
The chance to marry passion for the sport with his business acumen and commitment to the community should leave fans excited about what the franchise will mean for the tennis community – as well as the local economy.
The Kastles will kick off the inaugural campaign battling Eastern Conference rivals such as the Boston Lobsters, New York Buzz (Schenectady, NY), Philadelphia Freedoms and Delaware Smash. All will be looking to dethrone defending champ Sacramento Capitals. Check out http://www.WashingtonKastles.com or call 1-202-4-TENNIS (202-483-6647) for updates on the upcoming schedule, tickets and maybe even corporate sponsor opportunities.
Brian Lustig is co-founder of Lustig Communications, a Rockville, MD-based communications firm that works with growing technology and government IT firms. Lustig is also a contributor to local business and industry publications.