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.
Sylvia Li, Women's Tennis, Team Captain
Hometown: Cupertino, Calif.
House Affiliation: Mather
I never thought I could get so much out of a single experience as I did being a part of the Harvard women’s tennis team. Looking back, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude and nostalgia for all that I experienced with my teammates. A special bond forms when you play side-by-side with someone in the final third set of a match, when you lose your voice cheering for them, when you see each other through your greatest wins and toughest losses. This bond, along with the lessons and memories I’ve acquired throughout my four years, has been unforgettable.
Before college, I had always viewed tennis as an individual sport. What I got out of tennis remained confined to my own performance on the court. My drive, success, and happiness depended on me and me alone. The Harvard tennis team turned that belief on its head. Upon entering college, the support of my teammates was a new, and soon favorite, aspect of tennis that I hadn’t known before. My drive, success, and happiness were now ours. I learned what it meant to work and fight for something bigger than myself. Seeing my teammates mentally and physically give it their all on the court inspired me to do the same. If I lost or sat on the sidelines, it didn’t matter as long as I could help see the team through. This added dimension to the sport made my four years on the team more fulfilling than I could imagine. As teammates, we saw each other through the best and hardest times of being a student-athlete at Harvard. My team made the pain of two-court suicides bearable and the joy of our biggest wins indescribable. Even the little moments have been worth cherishing. From the endless texts, inside jokes, and heart-to-hearts, our team became a family.
Regardless of where I end up in the future, I know I will always look back and miss my years with the tennis team. Balancing a full academic and athletic schedule was rarely easy but always worth it. 20 years from now, the challenges we faced will pale in comparison to the stories we made. I will have forgotten the speedy jaywalking to practice, freezing ice baths, and late-night studying. But I’ll always carry with me the once-in-a-lifetime memories: traveling the world with some of my closest friends, taking classes at the best school in the world, and continuing to play the sport I love. I want to thank Harvard, my coaches, and my team for helping me grow as a student, teammate, and leader. Tennis as an individual sport can be lonely. Being a part of HWT never was.