Ackman, Salame Prevail as U.S. Seizes First Finance Tennis Cup

  • U.S. team trounces Europe's in eight of the nine matches
  • Next year's match to be held in London during Wimbledon

Some of the best tennis outside Flushing took place over the weekend in a sweltering indoor bubble on Randall’s Island as former pros and some of the world’s top money managers traded volleys and business cards in the first Finance Cup.

Bill Ackman

Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

Bill Ackman, founder of $18.5 billion hedge-fund firm Pershing Square Capital Management, and Pablo Salame, co-head of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s trading division, each won their respective doubles events as the U.S. team topped the European squad in eight of the nine matches Saturday. Brad Gilbert, the ESPN tennis commentator, presented the trophy to U.S. captain Jeffrey Appel and co-captain Ackman at a Manhattan steakhouse that evening.

The event had a certain finance feel, with participants catching up on careers, checking multiple cell phones and making jokes about activist plays and being long Brazil. Still, the main topic of conversation was tennis -- the men’s and women’s U.S. Open finals in New York’s Queens, the players’ own histories and injuries, and shots played on the clay courts in front of them.

“We had some extremely high-level tennis," Appel said after the event. “We’ve decided to make this an annual event, and we’re all excited to go over to London next year and play them on their home turf."

Mario Ancic

Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

The first match featured a team of U.S.-based executives representing Wall Street: Mario Ancic, who climbed to No. 7 in the world in 2006 and now works for Credit Suisse Group AG, and Amer Delic, who won the NCAA singles championship in 2003 and works at Meritage Capital. They captured a straight-set victory over Ludovic Walter, who was the top player at Duke University before joining the ATP tour, and Alexander Hartman, a former pro who started his own private-equity firm in Sweden after working for Goldman Sachs.

“Delic-Ancic, the American dream," said Ancic, a Croatian, as he and Bosnian Delic prepared to take the court. The next day, Ancic served as the warm-up partner for Novak Djokovic before his U.S. Open finals match against Roger Federer.

Ackman -- paired with Walter Dolhare, who runs Wells Fargo & Co.’s markets division -- won the battle of the activists over Christer Gardell, co-founder of Cevian Capital, in a match that was decided by a 6-4 third set.

David Anving, a partner at private-equity firm Global Asset Capital who was captain of the European team, called the loss “painful" and vowed to have a stronger team and showing next year, when the event is set to be held during Wimbledon. The sting of defeat for the City of London team was softened by courtside seats for the Federer-Djokovic match.

The threat of rain forced the event to be moved to indoor courts, where a lack of air conditioning left players drenched in sweat before matches began. The change in venue from the original location of the New York Athletic Club in Pelham also led to true Wall Street jokes.

“We had a hedged position," Appel told the assembled players. “We bought $500 of downside protection."

Christer Gardell and Zubin Irani shake hands with Walter Dolhare and Bill Ackman after a match in the Finance Cup

Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg