Dominic Inglot was working for Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch (BAC) two years ago when he took a chance that brought him back on the grass tennis courts of Wimbledon, this time as a ranked player, not a stand-in for a movie actor.
Ankle and knee injuries had forced Inglot away from the sport and into a three-month stint at the London-based private wealth unit of Merrill Lynch. Instead of pursuing a career in finance, he decided to take one last shot on the men’s tennis tour, and the bet paid off.
Nicknamed “Dom The Bomb” for his booming 140 miles-per-hour serve, the 6-foot-5 (1.96 meter) Briton is part of the No. 16-seeded men’s doubles team at Wimbledon, who yesterday won their opening round match against Spanish pair Roberto Bautista Agut and Daniel Gimeno-Traver in straight sets.
“I spoke to a few people in the right places, and they said that banks and hedge funds like people who have gone off the beaten path, who have done something different, who have got a different perspective on life,” the 27-year-old Inglot said in an interview. “And now I realize, you can go and play tennis and come back to it.”
Inglot funded part of his finance degree at the University of Virginia with 15,000 pounds ($23,000) made as a stand-in for actor Paul Bettany in the 2004 romantic comedy, “Wimbledon,” about the relationship between an aging player on the men’s tour and an emerging star on the women’s. Choosing between tennis and business in the first place wasn’t easy, he said.
“One of the biggest fears I had was that if you don’t go down that route, of going to school and then getting a job, that job offer won’t be there anymore,” he said at the French Open last month. “My goal was always to be a professional tennis player.”
Inglot moved to doubles ranking No. 39 on the ATP World Tour this week from No. 540 in 2011. At Wimbledon, he is teaming with Treat Huey from the Philippines, whom he met at Virginia where they both played on the college team. They won their first top-tour championship in Washington in August.
Paul Hutchins, a former British Davis Cup captain who has known Inglot since he was a junior player, said he has the potential to be ranked inside the top 15 in doubles.
“He can dominate the serve, and you can’t lob him because he is like a mountain,” Hutchins said in an interview.
Having started competitive tennis relatively late, at age 10, Inglot ended up at 17 playing on Centre Court of the All England Club in southwest London while filming “Wimbledon” with Bettany and Kirsten Dunst in the lead roles.
“They said I looked very similar, and would I be interested in becoming Paul’s double,” Inglot said. “It was such a great experience, I’d do it again, for sure.”
Inglot worked at Merrill Lynch on a team led by Colin Dowdeswell, a Davis Cup teammate of Hutchins, who had put the two men in touch.
“Dom’s a bright guy with a great character,” Hutchins said. “He got very badly injured. It’s important to get occupied during the time that you are injured. But I am glad he came back to tennis, plus he can always go back to finance.”
Dowdeswell, a runner-up in men’s doubles at Wimbledon in 1975, is a former ATP board member. Now 58, he retired from Merrill Lynch last year and is living and working in Monaco as an investment adviser, he said in an interview yesterday at the All England Club, where he is a member.
“Dom was interested in finance, and generally we like tennis players,” said Dowdeswell, shortly before going to Court 7 to watch Inglot. “It’s a combination of discipline and focus. Clients love to talk to somebody who has been a great sportsman. On the trading floors, they’re always looking at the guys playing. There is an element of respect for someone who has been there.”
Sara Louise Boyes, a spokeswoman for Merrill Lynch in London, declined to comment in an e-mail.
Working for Dowdeswell “really took a lot of weight off my shoulders in the sense that I now at least had something to show that I’d done this,” Inglot said. “And although I love tennis, finance is something that I’d like to go back to once I am done.”
Inglot said he has helped manage finances at Merrill Lynch for players, including one former French Open champion, none of which he would identify citing company policy. He said he “invested pretty safely. At that level, those guys want to be in a nice, safe portfolio without massive swings.”
His own portfolio only holds some cash for possible future investments, Inglot said. In a year on the ATP circuit, he’s made $257,305 in prize money.
“I was looking at property in London,” said Inglot, whose Polish-born father, Andrei, went into property development after a professional soccer career.
As for Wimbledon, Inglot has already improved on last year.
“We lost in the first round, after we had a match point,” he said. “I’m expecting a slightly better result this year.”
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