Turn up with Damien

IE’s diversity isn’t just limited to nationalities. We have students from different backgrounds and today we shall meet Damien from a professional sporting background. He speaks about his tennis experiences, the tough training times and of course the places to turn up at Madrid 😉


  • Hi Damien. We have heard that you were a professional tennis player, and a college athlete in the USA. Could you tell us a little about your background in tennis? 
I started playing tennis when I was 5.  My parents really insisted that I try different sports so I was not playing a lot of tennis until I was 10.  After that, I really focused on tennis and started playing more.  When I was 15,  I had the chance to spend a year at Bruguera tennis academy where I was practicing everyday with the 2016 French Open champion Garbine Muguruza.  It was really hard physically (with playing tennis 9-5pm everyday) and mentally but I really improved a lot.  Spain is definitely one of the best countries for tennis.  When I came back, my sport elite status allowed me to have a lighter schedule at school and practice more. I also got to travel to play on the junior tour.  Getting a scholarship to play tennis for East Carolina University was a great reward to all my efforts and sacrifices.
  • In your tennis career, which part was the most difficult thing for you?

Tennis is a physically demanding sport. Practicing for hours everyday did not allow me to do much on the side.  I did not have a lot of friends outside of tennis.  I often had practice at 7am before school, so going out with friends was never an option.  A lot of sacrifices are required to achieve high level performances.

  • What is the biggest thing that sports has taught you that you can apply to other parts of your life?

Hard work ethics and discipline definitely.

  • How do you think your sports background helped you in IE? 
 In terms of IE and the school itself, I could say that my sports background has helped me to deal with the pressure.  The big load of work as well as the competition between students due to the grading system are examples of things that my tennis career has helped me to deal with.  Sports in general is also a great way to meet people and network in an informal and efficient way.
  • What advice do you have for young athletes who have to choose between going pro or pursuing higher education?
Never put all your eggs in the same basket.  It is extremely risky to sacrifice education for tennis or any other sports.  I personally know a lot of examples of very young and talented players that dropped out of school when they were young to pursue their  sports dream.  There are a lot of variables that we have no control over –  such as injuries for example.  Being 20 years old with no high school degree because of tennis is not a situation anyone wants to face.
  • Why did you choose IE Business School for the MIM?
Firstly, the location.  I have always loved Spain since my tennis experience in Barcelona.  Madrid was then the perfect place since I was a little tired of hearing Catalan (haha) everywhere.  The ranking and reputation of the school helped to seal the deal.
  • Have you been actively playing tennis here in Madrid?
I try.  I am still in love with the game but I don’t have much free time unfortunately.  There are some greats players at IE and the nice weather sometimes makes me prioritize some tennis over studying (of course!)
  • What advice do you have for our future MIM students?
IE and the MIM is not only about being in class and studying.  Try to meet and create relations with students from all the programs. Madrid is also a great place to live.  Go out and enjoy the city!
  • As a party lover, what are some of the good party spots in Madrid?
Madrid is one of the best places to ‘turn up and see what happens’. (Editor’s note: If you know Damien, you know that this is signature phrase)  There is something going on every day & night (especially with the good weather of the summer).  The different After Brunch happening every Sunday in different places are definitely a must try.

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