Players of Pride Hall: Grady Burnett ‘91

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Grady Burnett ‘91 is a co-founder and co-CEO of Stealth Startup company. He was also a tennis player at M-A and played professionally for three years after college.

Burnett lived in Oakland from the age of two to fourteen and moved to Atherton halfway through his eighth-grade year. He attended Hillview Middle School for one semester and then went on to M-A. Burnett reflected on his years at M-A being “really formidable yet fun.”

He continued, “There was always an overwhelming level of support, energy, and enthusiasm that developed during my time at M-A. Whether it was at a sporting event, a musical, or just in the classroom, the community was very tight-knit.” 

Burnett’s parents were also involved in the M-A community as they were instrumental in starting M-A’s Foundation for the Future, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year. 

Burnett playing professionally

His best academic memories at M-A were in AP Biology with Mr. Stan Ogren. The class worked with Stanford Medical School, did rounds at Sequoia Hospital, and even worked on cadavers with Stanford medical students. He reminisced, “It was pretty amazing for a public high school to provide access to those resources and unique experiences.”

Burnett grew up playing tennis along with soccer and baseball, but started to play tennis more competitively going into high school. He said, “I decided I wanted to try to play at a level where I could go on to a Division I college and potentially play professionally, so I decided to stop all other sports and just focus on tennis.”

While playing tennis at M-A, Burnett and his team won the PAL title all four years. He said, “at M-A, I really fell in love with tennis and it helped me gear up for the college level.”

When senior year hit, Burnett started focusing on getting recruited, which mainly consisted of calling coaches and sending in videos. He shared, “I really wanted to find a college with the best athletic and academic balance. I also cared that it was a school full of spirit, similar to M-A.”

Burnett attended and played tennis at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor from ’91 to ‘95. He majored in history, was the president of his fraternity, and went on to play tennis professionally on the professional tour from ’95 to ‘98. 

Burnett with M-A hall of fame award

He said, “Playing tennis professionally was the most interesting, challenging, educational, and fun time of my life.” Burnett played in 13 countries over three years, was on the road for about 40 weeks a year, and constantly met people from different countries and cultures. 

“It was never very glamorous, but it was an incredibly joyful time, and I learned from many different perspectives. It was very educational for me,” he said. 

He reflected, “It was always very cool to beat players who went on to become top ten in the world.” 

Burnett credits his time on the Peninsula as one reason for his academic pursuits. “Having grown up in Silicon Valley, I became very interested in the new world of software and technology. It all happened to correspond with my interest in the media, which was ever-changing as the internet came to life,” he said.

His early career in tennis prepared him for his job today. He said, “Playing professional tennis gave me the confidence to go into different environments where I may or may not have felt comfortable, and I could apply that to the rest of my career.” 

Burnett with teammate at Michigan

Burnett explained his experience on the court helped his professional career, whether he was working in new companies or going into companies to get them to partner or buy products from him. He continued, “My early tennis career really gave me the confidence, the platform, and understanding to be able to travel internationally and set up offices.”

Tennis continues to be a big part of Burnett’s life as he now plays recreationally, and his son plays tennis at the University of Texas.

Burnett’s advice to current student-athletes: “Be open to what’s in front of you. The athletic world changes really quickly nowadays, so keep your eyes open, pay attention to what energizes you and how that maps to the sorts of trends that are changing in the world today.”

He concluded with the following wisdom: “The biggest thing is resilience and determination.”

Rose is a sophomore at M-A and this is her first year in journalism. She enjoys writing about pop culture and issues affecting the M-A community. In her free time, Rose enjoys exercising, going to concerts, and spending time with friends and family.

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