This past weekend, tennis players of all backgrounds gathered at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to participate in the 2012 New York Tennis Tournament benefitting the R Baby Foundation.
The round-robin tournament featured lunch, beverages and a live Calcutta auction, and was open to participants of all levels. With limited spots, last year’s tournament raised more than $80,000 for the charity, which works to save babies’ lives through the improvement of pediatric care. This year’s crowd consisted of many experienced tennis players and numerous finance moguls, resulting in a whopping $100,000 for the non-profit.
Bill Ackman, founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, explained that his backhand gave him some trouble during the competition. “My groundstrokes were actually pretty good,” he said. “I had too many unforced errors.”
Other experienced competitors included Barry Sternlicht of Starwood Capital Group; Taconic Capital Advisors’ Ken Brody; Jared Pinsky and Scott Lebovitz, Goldman Sachs executives, as well as players from the college division such as Charles Brody and Kyle Kliegerman.
Skill and consistency varied greatly throughout the event. Many players claimed it was a result of the long winter, while others admitted they have had little time to practice.
“In investment banking, you have to give up your weekends,” said Kaes Van’t Hof of Wexford Capital. “My first year in New York, I played tennis four or five times, which is a shock after playing seven days a week.”
Nonetheless, the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, with players like Ackman, Sternlicht and Van’t Hof joking around and comparing fitness regimes during the breaks.
Goldman Sachs was well represented in the semi-finals, but the final win went to Brian O’Connor of Binghampton University and Jonathan Boym of the University of Pennsylvania.