Real Estate Broker With Tennis Side Hustle Beats Ex-Top 10 Player: ‘I'm Going to Have to Ask for Another Day Off'

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Matija Pecotić has to dip into his vacation days to support his side hustle.

But the real estate director's extra gig isn't selling T-shirts or doing online consulting. Instead, he plays tennis before work every day to maintain his skill and love for the sport.

On Tuesday, those early morning hours paid off. Pecotić beat Jack Sock, formerly ranked No. 8 in the world, at the Delray Beach Open in Florida. The native Croatian, who had already used a day of paid time off to compete, said he had to ask for Wednesday off too, after he advanced in the tournament.

"I had to leave work early today," Pecotić, 33, told ESPN after the win. "I had to send an email to the whole team. [My boss] let me off. I'm going to have to ask for another day off tomorrow."

Pecotić was a full-time tennis pro with a peak world ranking of No. 206 until a surgery complication seemingly ended his competitive career eight years ago. He proceeded to get a degree from Harvard Business School in 2019 before landing his current job at Palm Beach, Florida-based Wexford Real Estate Investors in 2021, according to his LinkedIn page.

Now, Pecotić has to get "creative" to train around his 9-to-5 job, he said. That sometimes includes recruiting unlikely opponents to practice.

"I try to maximize each day," he said. "I try to train every morning if I can, five, six times a week. Sometimes I train with my boss, who is 70 years old. This week I trained with a guy who is probably in his late 50s."

Pecotić's boss is perhaps smart to support his side hustle. A 2021 study published in Academy of Management Journal found having passions outside of work actually "enriches" employees' in-office performance.

This particular Cinderella story was short-lived: Pecotić lost the next day to Marcos Giron, an American ranked No. 55 in the world. Still, beating Sock meant advancing further in the tournament than Pecotić ever expected, he told ESPN.

"[Sock] is a former top-10 guy with an incredible amount of tennis experience and a huge serve," he said. "He came out serving 134 mph on the first serve. It would be arrogant to think I'm going to come out and expect to win."

The Delray Beach Open is an open tournament, meaning both professional and amateur players can play. But it's still part of a professional circuit, and gives away $$642,735 in prize money split between men's, women's and double's categories, spokesperson Toni Wood tells CNBC Make It.

For now, Pecotić seems more enticed by extending his playing career than making money from winning.

"I absolutely love this game, and I know it's not forever and I'm 33," he said.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Jack Sock's name.

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