The 2017 Senior Perspectives is the 12th 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.
Brian Yeung, Men's Tennis
Hometown: Hong Kong
House Affiliation: Dunster
They say tennis is a lonely sport, where you travel alone a lot of the time and compete alone on the court. It certainly did feel like this before college, but college tennis gave me a total 180-degree shift in my perspective regarding this sport.
My first memorable impression didn’t come until the captains’ meeting before spring season started. The meeting itself was somewhat nuisance, generally reiterating some ground rules for the freshmen and goals for the year. The only takeaway from this meeting was to always go to team dinner after practices – no matter what. It was quite powerful for me at that time, being a freshman who was still trying to find a role within the team. I had to turn down dinner plans with my friends every night to go and eat with the team with whom the only connection I had was the varsity team. Little did I know it would turn out to be one of the cornerstones of my college life. If I had to estimate the portion of time I spent with the team throughout my time here, I would say I spent 40 percent by myself, 20 percent with friends and another 40 percent with the team. In other words, both voluntarily and involuntarily, I chose to spend nearly half of my time in Harvard with the team.
We experienced a lot together, from spending the entire J-term together, to spring break trips, to competing every weekend in the spring season. We celebrated after our wins, and helped each other up after our losses. In my opinion, the sweet fruit of victory is not what brings the team together, but it is the adversity and hardship that brings the team together. There were definitely days when I pulled an all-nighter or just did very poorly on a midterm, and the last thing I wanted to do was step on the court for my three-hour practice. But as soon as I walk across the bridge and see the bright faces of my teammates on the court, I know that I can rely on them to rally for the energy to survive practice, because they have all been there and would understand what it is like to come to practice after a long day. These are the little things that I would never have experienced outside of college tennis, where the team element is so significant.
For me, tennis practice has been a place to get better and a safe haven to forget about schoolwork and stress for three hours. But the privilege comes with responsibility. Picking each other up during low days is just a part of the full picture; pushing each other to being the very best is what this team strives to do. Looking back at the four years I’ve been here, I see, with each new incoming class, the standard of work ethics being pushed higher and higher. Take the fitness test for example: I am proud to say I have experienced the transition from the already-brutal dominators to the 400s test that is infamous even among varsity athletes. We can joke around off the court, but we still hold each other accountable on the court. These are the relationships that would make me fight and dive for every single point in matches.
In terms of my personal growth, I have seen a significant change in how I act on and off the court. I can go on forever about the ups and downs I’ve experienced these four years, but more importantly, the life lessons that I have learned will stick with me post-graduation. “HMT is bigger than me” is a great description of one such lesson. From being a freshman who would just quietly sit there during team dinner, to one of the older members who has the responsibility to look after the younglings, my role on the team has changed significantly from my freshman to senior year. I personally have looked up to a lot of mentors on the team, and now am hoping to be a role model to the younger ones. The lesson doesn’t end on the courts: we were taught to not only be great, competitive athletes on the court, but were also taught to be respectful and be grateful on and off the court. We were not only representing the team on the court, but were representing Harvard when we traveled. Here I would like to thank the coaches, Dave and Andrew, for the amazing life lessons you have taught me through my ups and downs, and also the numerous analogies and knowledge that I hope to pass down to future generations.
Last but not the least, I would like to thank the Friends of Harvard Tennis. Without all your help, our spring break trips and plane rides would not have been planned so smoothly and without financial constraints.
While I might be starting a new page in my career post-Harvard, I would like to learn to “pay it forward” by one day contributing to the program in any way possible. These four years in Harvard have been a blast, and I would love to thank everyone involved for making it ever so special.