WASHINGTON, April 3, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)
On Tuesday, local venture capitalist Mark Ein, who also owns the Washington Kastles and has a majority stake in World TeamTennis, was named manager and operator of the Citi Open, the ATP’s last-remaining 500 Series tennis tournament in the United States.
Ein acquired the management rights of the Citi Open from the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF).
The announcement was made on stadium court at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center, where the historic tennis tournament – and a mainstay of the summer Washington, D.C. sports scene – has been played since 1969. It is the longest running pro tennis event at the same site in the United States. The Citi Open includes both an ATP 500 Series tournament and, since 2012, a WTA International event that are held concurrently.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd, WTEF president and chief executive Rebecca D. Crouch-Pelham and local ATP professionals Frances Tiafoe and Denis Kudla were in attendance.
The Citi Open is here to stay in the district under the new leadership of @WashKastles owner Mark Ein //
— Citi Open (@CitiOpen) 3. April 2019
“This tournament has touched me my whole life,” said Ein, who was once a ball kid at the tournament in its early years – think back to the days of Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe. Ein reinterated his long-term dedication to keeping the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., and to provide ongoing support for WTEF, the tournament’s charity.
“This tournament has been woven into the fabric of our community as a mainstay of life across generations,” said Ein. “I grew up with this tournament and I know first-hand the profound impact it can have on individuals like myself and on our community more broadly. So, I am thrilled that we were able to come to an agreement to keep this very special event here in Washington.”
Mayor Bowser said, “It wouldn’t be summer in the sports capital without the Citi Open. For 50 years, Washingtonians have gathered to watch the top tennis players compete at the Rock Creek Park, and over time, D.C. has transformed into a town where young athletes can not only play top-level tennis, but also thrive in it. We are grateful for Mark Ein’s leadership and look forward to many more years of hosting the Citi Open in Washington.”
USTA CEO and Executive Director Gordon Smith said, “No one is more passionate than Mark Ein for the sport of tennis and for his local community. These passions have combined to ensure the future of professional tennis will thrive in Washington, D.C. His leadership truly makes a difference and of course we are thrilled to welcome the Citi Open back into the U.S. Open Series.”
Ein said his first priority will be to address much-needed facility updates for the 50-year-old Rock Creek Park Tennis Center stadium and grounds that are needed in order to secure the long-term future of the tournament. Additionally, Ein hopes to enhance the overall fan experience through upgrading its food and beverage offerings, improved grounds, new hospitality areas that would be open to all fans, and improved parking and ride-share logistics. He also said that season ticket prices would not increase for 2019.
It was also announced that Citi extended its title sponsorship through 2019, Tennis Channel has renewed its U.S. broadcast partnership for five years, and the tournament will rejoin the U.S. Open Series for the first time since 2014.