There are life lessons to be learned throughout all sports, but there may be no sport that has a more direct correlation to the real world than tennis.
Whether you are playing at an individual tournament or playing on your high school or college team, skills and lessons used and learned on the tennis court can translate into the workforce, as many current businessmen will tell you firsthand.
Take Jonathan and Adam Schwartz, two former junior standouts and college tennis players, who now work at Jones Lang LaSalle, a publically-traded commercial real estate firm that specializes in commercial real estate services and investment management.
“I think being an athlete in general always helps,” said Jonathan. “Working on a team and thriving in a team environment is crucial. On the tennis court, you’re analyzing every point and trying to figure out the best way to handle a given situation, and that’s something that translates into the business world. As we bring in clients, the lessons you learn in tennis like the ability to maneuver and adapt is extremely helpful in the business world. You’re meeting with a whole bunch of different people and personalities, and you have to learn to deal with each one differently like you would an opponent in tennis.”
Jonathan and Adam grew up in Nassau County on Long Island, and developed a love for the sport at an early age, thanks to their father Jayson, who was a top college player at the University of Pennsylvania and is a member of the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Jonathan Schwartz (pictured in the center) with his teammates from the University of Delaware
The two would play a number of different sports growing up, but tennis was always king, and each carved out successful junior careers, including winning a Nassau County Championship together in doubles for Wheatley High School.
Adam, who is two years younger than Jonathan, would win the New York State Championship in singles in 2006 before taking his talents to his father’s alma mater, while Jonathan played college tennis for the Blue Hens of Delaware.
Throughout their successful times as junior tennis players and then as college tennis players, the sport opened up doors for them to find similar success on a different court: The business world.
After playing together and against each other on the tennis court growing up, both have used those experiences to achieve success at Jones Lang LaSalle.
Adam Schwartz during his days with the University of Pennsylvania
“I have about four or five clients right now. One of them was my teammate at Penn and another went to school with me, so between tennis and school, it has helped me develop connections,” said Adam. “Having that trust factor with someone already established goes a long way. Someone with whom you’ve already built a relationship with and they have that trust in you, you are able to cut out the months and months of work you would’ve spent trying to establish that. It makes doing business easier and smoother.”
Beyond just making connections and knowing people, sports and business share similarities in both skill sets and work ethics.
“Dealing with losing and dealing with failure. You have to be resilient and have a positive attitude,” said Jonathan when asked about why former athletes oftentimes succeed in the business world. “That’s absolutely something you need in business, whether it’s finance or any other industry. Bouncing back from a loss and putting a positive spin on things, taking the positive out of a negative outcome.”
Dedicating yourself to something transcends sports and applies to all walks of life. Those qualities often exist in athletes, and it is why they are usually the type of candidates that companies are eager to hire.
“If you work 10 times harder than somebody who is more talented, the guy who works harder is the one who will be more successful,” said Adam. “That applies to tennis, but also many other things. Become a student of your craft, whatever it is, and the results will show.”