Citi Open Spotlight with Mark Ein
Washington D.C.’s summer tennis tradition is BACK.
The Citi Open kicked off their annual tournament on July 31, and the fans are beaming with excitement. The Citi Open tournament has been the premier tennis tournament in the Mid-Atlantic since 1969. Players and spectators from around the world come out to celebrate Washington’s summer tennis tradition in the nation's Capital. This US Open Series tournament is one of the few that leads players to Flushing Meadows for the US Open.
Past champions have included all-time greats such as Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, and more. This year’s tournament continues to be full of excitement, especially with the star-studded lineup. Headlining the 2021 Citi Open is Rafael Nadal, the current world No. 3 who holds 20 grand slam titles. Fans have been lining up to watch him practice on stadium court before his debut match in Washington on Wednesday, August 3 at 7 pm.
USTA Mid-Atlantic’s own Frances Tiafoe and Denis Kudla are set to take the courts in Washington as well for their home tournament. Playing in front of a D.C. crowd is very special to these players. When asked Tiafoe said, “It's going to be a super fun week. I'm really excited. Hopefully, I can go for a nice run here. That would definitely mean a lot to me. This is one of my staples of the year, so I'm ready for it.”
To get the inside scoop on how this year’s Citi Open is continuing their mission to reimagine tournament tennis, USTA Mid-Atlantic had the opportunity to sit down with Mark Ein, the Citi Open Chairman and CEO of MDE Tennis.
“Passionate, committed, and excellent.” Those are the three words that Mark Ein uses to describe tennis in the Mid-Atlantic.
Mark Ein’s passion for sports is infectious. Growing up, he was a sports fanatic and is truly committed to the success of D.C. sports. His investments include founding the Washington Kastles, the most decorated World TeamTennis team, and the Washington Justice, an American professional Overwatch esports team based in Washington, D.C. In 2019, Mark Ein acquired the managing rights to the Citi Open tennis tournament. His goal is to bring an elevated experience to anyone that steps on the grounds at Citi Open.
“What I care most about is the experience that our fans and tennis community have,” Ein said. “I am a product of this tennis community, it really shaped my life, and our biggest motivation is creating something really special for all those tennis players and fans in the Mid-Atlantic. For me, that’s what it comes down to.”
Mark Ein has been involved with the Citi Open most of his life. From when he was a ball boy as a child, helping with transportation as a college student, to sitting on the Board of Directors briefly. Tennis has been a staple in his life for decades and he is looking to have that same impact on others' lives in the Mid-Atlantic as well.
“I want to use this platform to help grow the game of tennis, to help kids fall in love with the sport that made such an impact on my life,” Ein said.
“I deeply believe that having really high-quality major events, in any sport, is the best way to inspire kids to take up the sport. By bringing the top pros here, having them be accessible, letting people watch them play matches, but also practice, and get autographs as they walk around the grounds, creates that spark of inspiration that kids need to fall in love with the game of tennis.”
It doesn’t stop there. Mark’s objective to use the Citi Open to grow tennis in the Mid-Atlantic is just getting started.
“We try to make the Citi Open a 52-week engagement with our tennis community. We are here physically for one, really special, week in the summer. But our goal is to be engaged with the [tennis] community, players, and clubs throughout the year,” Ein said.
“During this week, hopefully, people can organize groups and come down together to watch the matches. That is a really special experience when they do that. And then they go back to their clubs and talk about what they did together, and I think that’s a great way to inspire players.”
And for those who cannot make it to the Citi Open this year, Mark encourages you to follow along and engage through social media. There you’ll not only be able to see everything that happens on the grounds, but you will also be able to get a behind-the-scenes look at what the players are doing when they are not on the court.
Mark Ein’s impact in the Mid-Atlantic tennis community is far-reaching. He is committed to elevating the sport and getting more racquets in the hands of those who have never played tennis before.
At USTA Mid-Atlantic, we are happy to be a part of the Citi Open every year and to celebrate Washington’s summer tennis tradition by bringing tennis to more people in the Mid-Atlantic region.
USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. Learn about our impact in the Section and how USTA Mid-Atlantic creates community, character, and well-being.