Tennis is a sport that has an impact beyond the wins and losses on the court. It’s a sport that demands dedication and instills a work ethic, helping young people develop character traits that can be utilized in all walks of life.
Embodying this mantra is Parsa Samii, a former collegiate and professional tennis player from Long Island who now works as a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson for Compass, a national real estate agency.
“Tennis and coaching tennis were my passion, it was who I was and what I loved most, and so I used that same mindset when I entered real estate,” he says. “It’s highly emotional, there is lots of pressure, and you have to be able to find solutions to problems that arise.
In comparing coaching tennis to finding the right home for a client, it’s about bringing someone from Point A to Point B. You have to be able to move them forward, and there are often land mines and challenges along that path. You have to be calm, figure out problems as they arrive, and also learn from each experience; therefore you are prepared for any pitfalls when dealing with your next client or next player.”
Samii began his tennis career at the age of 13, when he traveled out to California to visit family. One of his uncles gave him a wooden, John McEnroe-model Dunlop racquet, and while his two uncles hit with each other on court, a young Parsa went over to the wall and hit against it.
It was his first tennis experience, and he was hooked.
Upon returning home, he joined a few of his friends for a class at Glen Head Racquet Club. Despite having just started and his friends being more experienced, Samii held his own.
“It was almost right off the bat, and I said to myself, ‘I’m pretty good at this sport. I don’t know why, but I am,’” he recalls. “So I just continued to play. A few months later, I started taking regular lessons at Port Washington Tennis Academy, and from there I was playing for three hours a day, seven days a week.”
Because of his late arrival to the junior tennis scene, it took a little while for Samii to climb up the rankings. He was not highly ranked in the 16s, but by the time he joined the 18U ranks, he became one of the higher ranked junior players, which helped him land a spot on the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He was drawn to Amherst due to its Division I tennis program and the fact that it had one of the nation’s top Sports Management programs, a field he was interested in pursuing.
Just like his junior career, it would take a bit for him to be successful at the Division I level. He sat much of his freshman year, but when a starting lineup spot opened up after an injury, Samii pounced on his opportunity:
“Our coach, Judy Dixon, looked over at me and said, ‘hey, you’ve been working hard. Here’s your chance.’ I went out there and gave it my all, and playing in the sixth singles spot, I didn’t lose the rest of the season. After winning some college events heading into my sophomore year, I moved up tothe fourth singles spot. The trajectory started right from the beginning, I continued to improve each year and kept moving up. I was very motivated, and once I set my mind to something, my plan is to achieve it.”
This progression continued, and by the time Samii was in his senior season, he was competing in the top singles position for Amherst.
Samii would go on to compete on the pro tour in the years following college, but he began to get bit by the injury bug, which halted the professional tennis dream.
“I started to get injured quite a bit, but I was very determined to make the impossible, so to speak, happen,” he said. “I pushed myself to the limit, but my body started to fail, and continued to fail. After a couple of shoulder surgeries, I stopped playing pro tennis when I was about 25-years-old.”
That’s when Samii made the transition into coaching here on Long Island, something he would do for nearly two decades, coaching some of the top junior players including multiple national and international titlists.
But in what was becoming all-too commonplace for Samii, he was injured again, this time hurting his elbow, leading him to make a difficult decision.
“This theme kept happening, and I felt like I needed to make a transition in my life. Tennis had taken me so far, and I felt like I could use what I had learned from it and apply it to something else. I approached real estate with the same mindset I did tennis.”
In tennis, it’s imperative that you adapt and make changes on the fly, whether that’s preparing for a different opponent or making adjustments during a match. And that adaptability is something that also occurs in real estate, as Samii can attest to. That was no more evident than over the last 18 months, when the global pandemic swept across the world, flipping many industries on its head.
“What ended up ensuing was a lot of people started to value their home even more than they already did. And what I mean by that is people wanted space: more outdoor space and more rooms. With everyone being home so much during the lockdown periods, it became a change of mindset in people’s psyche,” said Samii. “They started to say, “I’m in a gorgeous New York City high rise, but I have no room to roam. I have a two-year-old kid but we can’t really go outside.’ It changed how people viewed what ‘home’ meant, and it created a rush of people wanting to purchase properties.”
Samii says there are typically two types of buyers and sellers: those who need, and those who want. During the pandemic, a lot of the business shifted to focusing on those who “needed” to move, which created a competitive market.
“Everywhere, at all various price points, homes have been selling for record numbers and in record time,” added Samii. “It’s been largely based on need. Those people fueled the market to record highs.”
Business has been good for Samii and Compass over the last couple of years, and therefore takes up much of his time these days. But his love for tennis is still there, and he tries to find time each week to get out on court and hit. No longer the competitive player he once was, he plays just for fun now; because he loves it.
“I do it because I love it. When I was 13 and picked up that racquet for the first time, a switch went off, and I had a drive to become the best player in the world. That’s what it always was, and I enjoyed the process and enduring the ups and downs that tennis brings. But this year I went out to hit just because I wanted to hit. I wanted to feel the ball on the racquet again, and I really enjoyed it. I don’t get to do that too often, I’m very busy and don’t have the amount of time I would like. As soon as the market and business goes back to normal, I think I’ll have more time to play and I look forward to that.”
As someone who got his start in tennis at a later age than many junior players, he can attest to the idea that there is no cookie-cutter approach to finding success, and has advice for young players who may feel as if they were falling behind or having to catch up to their peers.
“Starting at a later age, you’re going to essentially be playing matches and learning the game at the same time. You have to be willing to work through those tough times,” he said. “I did a lot of losing growing up, to be honest with you, but it made my skin very thick, and you have to stick with it when you are hardest hit by adversity. Have an end goal in mind, and work every day on improving. All you have to do is improve one thing every day, and eventually you’ll get there.”
Samii personifies the impact that tennis can have on a person beyond the wins and losses on court. The work ethic, dedication, ability to overcome adversity, problem-solving skills and trust in the process are all attributes tennis players must have that can be carried into other aspects of life. Through that, Samii has gone from a successful player and coach to a successful real estate agent, often leaning on the skill set he developed from tennis to help him connect home buyers and home sellers.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.