Written Senior Perspective: Shaun Chaudhuri

Written Senior Perspective:  Shaun Chaudhuri

The 2015 Senior Perspectives is the 10th in a series of annual collections. Senior captains and representatives of teams at Harvard have been invited to contribute viewpoints based on personal experience from both their senior seasons and full varsity careers at Harvard.

For a complete listing of 2015 Senior Perspectives, click here.

Shaun Chaudhuri, Men's Tennis
Hometown: Pleasanton, Calif.
Concentration: Gender Studies & Economics
House Affiliation: Eliot 

Sigmund Freud famously stated, “Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.” While Freud is known for exaggerating the truth at times, I couldn’t find a truer statement to describe my four years of being a student-athlete at Harvard. 

Love. It was my love for tennis and passion to come to Harvard that prompted my journey to Cambridge four short years ago. My initial delight with my acceptance into Harvard arose from the belief I was about to enter one of the most intellectually stimulating atmospheres in the world. I remember my first couple of days of college as I stumbled my way through Harvard Yard in frantic search of my freshmen expository writing class, but little did I know that most of my learning would not occur in the hallowed classrooms of Sever Hall, but rather in a much harsher court of life.

Work. The true work started with the official athletic practices as collegiate tennis demands much more time and hard work than the junior circuit. There is an advantage to this, as collegiate tennis introduces the concept of a team to a sport that has been highly individual up to this point. This unusual contradiction leads to an unparalleled experience, as you have the simultaneous chance to grow as an individual and as a teammate through the individual and collective work throughout the year. 

It was this combination of the love I had for the game and willingness to put in the work where I found out who I truly was and learned my greatest lessons. What did I learn from waking up to cross the bridge over a frozen Charles River in the early hours of the morning? It was the discipline to put pain over immediate gratification, as delayed gratification is the most valuable commodity of all. What did I learn from the many hours of practice and strength training in Palmer Dixon? It was the ability to make and uphold a commitment to 12 other teammates whom I cared about deeply. What did I learn from adhering to my strict rituals and meditation practices before each tennis match? It was that preparation is a huge differentiator in a world where margins are already extremely slim. Lastly, what did I learn from competing in collegiate dual matches? It was acceptance - the capacity to accept the outcome of each match knowing that you competed to the best of your ability on that given day, and that you embodied the highest level of sportsmanship and gentlemanliness during the competition.

My experience here has made me believe that Harvard is indeed home to world-renowned teachers. No, I am not writing about the traditional tenured professors who grace the pages of top scholarly magazines, but instead to a couple overlooked individuals who are embedded within Harvard tennis history. I want to thank our associate head coach, Andrew Rueb, who has tirelessly coached me through so many of the tennis dual matches. From holding obnoxious spectators at bay to urging me on in my three-set battles, I couldn’t ask for a better teacher and coach. Our different approaches to the game proved to be invaluable as he taught me how to take risks at the right times and that it was acceptable to show a little emotion during my matches. His passion and enthusiasm is unparalleled and I will miss having him on my side of the net. My next thank you is directed towards our head coach, Dave Fish, as I could not have asked for a better role model and mentor. From always seeming calm and collected on the outside, he taught me how push myself harder than past my physical capacity and to never doubt my ability. In addition to the on-court coaching, he has helped me understand how to become a better citizen, and I will continue to learn from his lessons long after I have left the warm comfort of the Murr and Beren Tennis Centers. 

My last thank you goes out to the large Harvard men’s tennis family that has embraced me throughout the years. I am not only referring to my current teammates who have accepted my serious nature (with their chants of “No fun allowed!”), but also to the past Harvard tennis legends who continue to remain present in our lives today. Amongst the many to list, I wanted to thank Pete Stovell ’93 and Albert Chang ’92 as they are a large reason for why I had a chance to compete in a Crimson uniform. A huge thank you also goes to Alex Seaver ’82 who has constantly promoted competing with integrity and has continued to play an integral part in our team’s support each year. Lastly, I wanted to thank Larry Scott ’86, who has been a great mentor over the years and has showed me that change is always possible, even in the most unlikely of spaces.

In conclusion, the opportunity to play tennis at Harvard has meant the world to me. From quietly walking onto the courts in my first practice to courageously limping on the courts in my last practice, I couldn’t imagine a better ending to my tennis journey. This love I have for the team and the work we have all put in have been the defining characteristics of my experience at Harvard and will continue to be a reminder of the many great accomplishments I have shared with my coaches, teammates, and larger Harvard tennis family. I can’t wait to see what this team does in the upcoming years, as I have full confidence that this team will rise to new heights and carry on the great legacy that is Harvard tennis.