Podcast - Marijn Bal

The world of professional sports has no shortage of exciting athletic moments, but it continues to evolve into a bigger and more complex business as time progresses. It's not a game at the top level of tennis competition but an industry, and one that requires the best and brightest sports agents to represent the best interests of the players that take the court.

Marijn Bal falls into that category, and as the Vice President of IMG Tennis, he has become the standard for what a tennis agent should be in the modern era, while also a positive story of how a love for this sport can open doors well beyond the playing arena.

He recently joined the Podcast with Kamau Murray to discuss the path that led him to the top of his field, and what the life of a 'super agent' in tennis really entails.


Bal's journey to big-time tennis agent wasn't a conventional one. He grew up in the Netherlands mesmerized by tennis, and just wanted to take it as far as he could after a modest playing career that earned him a scholarship at the Division II level for Northern Georgia's team. That's when fortune and fate collided.

"I got an unpaid internship at IMG in the summer of 2008, with no guarantees of a job whatsoever," Bal reflected on the fateful summer he found his calling.

It was at 5 p.m. on his last day when he was about to say his goodbyes that he was offered a job as an assistant, setting him on the agency path he is still walking to this day.

"I didn't even look at the paper or care what I was going to get paid. I just signed right on the dotted line."

Bal looks back on his position fondly, and explains that an assistant in his field isn't someone saddled with clerical work only. He learned the ins and outs of the entire business, made contacts and connections with all the moving parts in a complex ecosphere, and steadily proved his worth over time.

The young man from Holland is completely cognizant of the good luck that came in getting his opportunity at IMG as an intern, but it was his mindset & work ethic that separated him from the pack.

"For me, it was all about just give me this opportunity, let me put my little foot in the door, and I will prove that I am the best thing that is ever going to happen to you," Ball said. "I promise you, I was working 19 hours a day. Not that they made me do that, but I did it myself."

While the summer coaches he roomed with in Bradenton, Fla, blew off some necessary steam after-hours, Bal continued to grind. On weekends and holidays, the same story unfolded. While others were worn down by the work-schedule and demands of the field, Bal thrived in it. The road less traveled is often the most difficult one, and that holds especially true for those in the sports agency industry. It seems glitzy and glamorous, and can be on several occasions, but it requires hours upon hours of work and dedication.

Bal understood this at an early age, and he attacked his career with the passion we see from the game's very best players.


Bal's hard work certainly paid off, and in his current role, he has gotten to develop positive and influential relationships with some of the premiere pros in tennis. He was with Monica Puig when she won an improbable gold medal in 2016, and he still gets goosebumps thinking about Petra Kvitova's run to the 2019 Australian Open final after her career was almost derailed by a frightening home invasion.

"That was, from an emotional standpoint, one of the wildest rides I've ever been on," Bal recounted. "She won the semis, and then I didn't sleep until two days after the final."

These moments aren't the norm, but the fruits of many thankless hours of work serving his clients.

"I never wake up in the morning thinking like, 'I'm going to work.' I'm always excited about what the day has ahead of me because I get to work with amazing athletes, with amazing people that do amazing things. I'm just very lucky that I'm able to help them reach their full potential in doing that."

Murray and Bal are not strangers to each other, and over the course of this conversation, they reminisced over the many times they've crossed paths at professional events worldwide. Bal's journey is as revealing as it is inspiring, as it peels back the curtain to what it really requires to become a major player in the industry, and what some folks just aren't cut out for. From hitting balls against the wall in Holland, to sitting on Center Court during major finals, Bal's role in the game has been solidified.

This Podcast episode takes you behind the scenes of a world many aspire to live in, but only the truly committed inhabit.