Welcome to Episode 30 of What I Know Now, the Personal Development and Leadership Podcast.

Today’s guest is ex-professional tennis player and Richard Branson’s tennis coach James Cluskey. James found a passion for tennis at a very young age winning his first junior title aged seven and became the Irish Under 18’s champion in 2004. He got the chance to play college tennis at Louisiana State University, enjoying four successful years in the United States.

He made his debut for Ireland in the Davis Cup at the age of 19 representing them eight times between 2006 and 2014. He also won 15 doubles titles during his professional career and was ranked the number one doubles tennis player in Ireland at the time of his retirement.

Following his retirement in 2015, James got the chance to go to the Virgin Islands to help out at Richard Branson’s Necker Cup, which is the world’s most exclusive Pro-Am Tennis event where some of the world’s best tennis players team up to play with business people. After getting to know Richard and his tennis coach Josh Gilmour, James was handed the opportunity to return to the Necker Island to coach Richard.

James is keen to become an entrepreneur and made the transition from tennis player to businessman in 2016. He became Head of Sport at Mason Alexander specialising in the recruitment for governing bodies, sport related companies and advising athletes on career transition.

In 2016 – in an idea he got from Richard Branson – he set up his own business Tennis for Wellness, which links up with companies as part of their employee wellness programs to run tennis programs for staff, including workshops for mindset, nutrition and high performance. It also runs corporate tennis days at some of the most prestigious clubs around Dublin.

In my really interesting interview with James, we discuss the following:

  • Growing up with a passion for tennis and getting the chance to go to college in Louisiana
  • Playing Davis Cup tennis and just missing out on Wimbledon
  • Becoming Richard Branson’s tennis coach
  • What he has learned from Richard
  • Making the transition from tennis player to businessman after his retirement
  • His goals for the future
  • What James would say to his 18-year-old self



To find out a little bit more about James, you can follow him on Twitter @JamesCluskey, on Facebook at this link and you can also connect with him on LinkedIn. 

To share your thoughts:

  • Let me know what you think of James Cluskey’s podcast by leaving a comment below
  • Please share this interview on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.


To celebrate What I Know Now’s 1 Year Anniversary, I will be hosting a live podcast on Thursday 28 September at the Hamilton Building in Trinity College Dublin. It is FREE to attend so sign up now at this link. Hope to see you there.

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