Harvard Tennis Update - Still going…
Dear Harvard Tennis Friends and Family,
Just in case you thought it was all over, the 2008 season is still going well into exams as Chris Clayton, Ashwin Kumar, and Sasha Ermakov are competing in the NCAA Individual Championships in Tulsa, OK. This is Kumar and Ermakov's second trip to University of Tulsa this season where they made it to the quarters of the All-American Doubles Tournament in the Fall. Chris Clayton qualified for the singles draw in his first crack at the NCAA tournament.
Late Breaking News in Tulsa:
[Chris Clayton went down to Notre Dame's #1 player, Brett Helgeson, which ended a great season for Chris. Watch for him to get back here next year!
In doubles, Ashwin Kumar and Sasha Ermakov hit their stride early, and took out Michigan State's strong duo of Rinks and Monich. They take on UNC's Fogleman and Kearney today sometime after 2pm central time. You can follow their match on-line at:
The team season concluded in Ann Arbor as the boys from Cambridge fell to Texas Tech 4-2 in the NCAA Team Tournament. The Crimson has a great review of the match and a photo of our top doubles team. http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=523533
It was a hard-fought match and was a great effort to conclude the season.
The Team Banquet at the Harvard Club of Boston was the formal celebration of a long year of hard work. It was a heartfelt and emotional ending to a great season with the team trumpeting the return of the Ivy crown to Cambridge. Ashwin Kumar was named the Jack Barnaby MVP for his effort at the top of the singles and doubles line-up. Freshman Tim Wu was named the Most Improved Player for his steady rise throughout the season - Tim labored on his game and the results were impressive. It was also announced at the banquet that Dave Fish was named the Coach of the Year from the ITA for our Northeast Region. I think he more than earned the honors and was rewarded for our team's composure and fight.
As befitting the banquet, there were also some great speeches and toasts. We thought that we would include captain Dan Nguyen's essay that he read that evening for some flavor of the night and to remind us all what Harvard Men's Tennis is all about.
More from Tulsa,
>From Co-Captain Dan Nguyen '08:
"They say that college is the time in your life when you grow the most as a person. For some, this may be completely untrue; but, personally, nothing could be more accurate. The skinny, timid, quiet kid who arrived in Cambridge four years ago is very different from the guy currently writing these words. As I try to identify what specific factors actually led to this change, my thoughts strangely stray from the classrooms of Harvard Yard and end up focusing on those experiences that took place in the athletic arenas on the other side of the Charles.
From moral lessons to invaluable life skills, Harvard tennis has given me more than I can ever hope to give it. Each day with the program was an opportunity to improve myself. What did I gain from waking up at 6am and walking-in the dark-through frozen tundra to get to practice? Discipline.
What did I learn from finishing three problem sets, two papers, and an exam in a single week during the heart of our Ivy League season? Time management. What did I develop from running "separator" sprints with Coach Fitz until collapsing in the middle of Palmer Dixon? Work ethic.
It's so obvious, even without considering competition, to see that every single Harvard athlete becomes a better individual because of the lifestyles that we choose to lead. Oddly enough, it is through competition that we learn some of the most important lessons. I can honestly say that during my four-year stint, I've been through some of the best and worst times in Harvard tennis history. At one point, we were the 15th ranked team in the country and a force to be reckoned with; at another point, we were hardly a spec on the radar, unable to make the list of 75 ranked teams. We beat Stanford for the first time in school history in 2007, but also ruined a 45-year winning streak by losing to Cornell in 2006. I've been a part of epic comebacks where losing was only a point away, but I've also endured devastating meltdowns where a win should have been guaranteed.
To characterize my Harvard tennis experience as a roller coaster ride would be an understatement. As a senior looking back, I think I can finally sift through the chaotic mess of our match results and really see the hidden insight of competition. I learned that: 1) you must have confidence in yourself and the work that you've done; 2) regardless of the outcome, you should play with pride and integrity; and 3) you should take risks not only when you've got nothing to lose but also when you have everything on the line. Ultimately, the worst feeling to live with is that of wondering what could have been; the best is knowing that you didn't hold anything back. These are the types of lessons that I've come to internalize through my years representing the Crimson. Once I leave the ivy gates of Harvard, I strongly believe that it will be these same concepts and ideals that will help me succeed in the real world.
Above all this, what I've come to value most are the relationships I have made with my teammates and coaches. When you spend several hours every single day for four years with the same people, you would think you'd get sick of them at some point; for me, those friendships only grew stronger. The team became my proverbial "band of brothers" and I quickly realized that team success was much more meaningful than any individual accomplishment. Rudyard Kipling's famous poem reads, "For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack." To me, that is Harvard men's tennis.
I apologize for sounding outrageously corny and clichéd, but still, I hope that my message is clear: the times spent training, traveling, joking, sulking, celebrating, and competing together are far more important than any result. Each year, a Harvard tennis alumnus has told me to cherish my time as a member of the program. Only now am I starting to realize how valuable this time is and how lucky I am to be a part of it. I sincerely thank Harvard men's tennis for everything that it has given me. The values and principles that the program cultivates will undoubtedly maintain its tradition of success. More importantly, they will continue to ensure that skinny, timid, quiet kids don't leave Harvard the way arrived."