Kevin Yan, a member of the Haverford College men's tennis team, is the 2017 recipient of the Archibald MacIntosh Award. Yan is the third men's tennis player to receive this honor in the award's 53-year history. The Beta Rho Sigma alumni society has presented the award in MacIntosh's honor to the top scholar-athlete in the first-year class at Haverford since 1964.
"Winning the MacIntosh Award means a lot to me personally because it's a real honor knowing that I can even be considered as a top student-athlete in the first year class," said Yan. "It's amazing considering our athletic program as a whole is very strong and there are so many incredible student-athletes."
Stepping into the lineup for an always-strong Fords team, Yan showed great progression during his rookie season. Playing No. 3 singles against a very tough schedule, Yan's growth during the season was highlighted by his being named the Centennial Conference Rookie of the Year and a first-team All-Centennial Conference performer in singles.
"I cannot thank my parents and coach [Sean] Sloane enough for everything they have done. I had a very hard time adjusting to college tennis," stated Yan. "I remember a quote by Kobe Bryant, 'if you don't believe in yourself, no one else will.' Luckily, this wasn't the case. Even when I had lost hope in myself, coach Sloane and my parents were the ones who encouraged me to keep pushing and to always have faith in myself. Without their genuine care for me both physically and emotionally, I wouldn't be the player I am today."
Despite some tough early results, coach Sloane knew that it would not take long for Yan to find success. "Kevin stepped right into our lineup at No. 3 singles. Initially a little surprised at the level of intensity in collegiate play, he soon adapted, allowing his foot speed and stroke technique to carry him to rookie of the year honors. Our tennis team has consistently ranked among the top ten teams in all of college tennis for number of ITA Scholar Athletes and Kevin demonstrated his excellence in the classroom as well as on the tennis court."
Yan's rapid improvement was capped off by victories late in the season against opponents from nationally-ranked Johns Hopkins and Swarthmore. Those wins bookended a season-best four-match winning streak to close his regular season. He totaled nine singles wins, including an outstanding 5-1 mark in conference play. Yan also contributed a perfect 5-0 doubles record against Centennial opposition.
In addition to the outstanding coaching he received on court, Yan quickly acknowledges the student-athlete balance that Haverford provides. "I'm happy to say combining time for athletics and academics has been relatively smooth. I think this is really a testament to our athletic program and our coaches. I know all the coaches value the academic success of their students tremendously. Coach Sloane will always put your academic needs ahead of the team's needs."
His success as a student quickly caught the eye of the Haverford professors. "Kevin took my intro to economics course last fall as a first year," explained Assistant Professor of Economics Saleha Jilani. "It was a large class, and it took me a while to get to know names and faces. But pretty early on in the semester, I recognized a quiet, attentive, and interested student, who sat not too far back, but not in the front row, and who never missed a single class. He would participate regularly, in his soft-spoken and mild-mannered way, always with correct answers, and insightful questions. Later that semester, I had the chance to talk to Kevin at some length when he interviewed me for an assignment in his first year writing seminar. I was struck by the thoughtfulness of his questions, his courteous and polite manners, and his understated but solid confidence."
She continued her praise by stating, "As a student his performance was exemplary in both the intro course and the development economics course Kevin took with me in the spring semester last year. His problem sets and exams were near perfect, and his research project in the latter course, focusing on a comparative analysis of healthcare systems and outcomes in India and China, was superb. He is in short, the ideal student."
In return, Yan credited his professors. "Academically, I want to thank Professor Jilani for all the work she puts in. Sometimes, it can be intimidating asking questions or posing concerns in class. However, Professor Jilani creates a really comfortable environment where you aren't afraid to ask questions and challenge yourself. I'm extremely grateful for the discussion she creates in one on one office hours because it has allowed me to think more critically both inside and outside the classroom."
Looking to the future, Yan sees great potential for himself in the field of economics. "I really enjoy economics so I hope to major in it. Because we have such a great variety of courses, I think Haverford is a great place to explore what you truly find interesting. The people I've met and the memories that have been made through tennis are irreplaceable to me."