Lehigh senior men’s tennis player Harry Wang has had a successful first three years as a Mountain Hawk, playing primarily at both the No. 1 and No. 2 singles and doubles spots, earning Second-Team All-Patriot League honors his first two seasons.
He began to play tennis occasionally at the age of six, then almost every day at seven years old, and went on to participate in competitive junior tournaments at 12 years old. He was coached by his dad, who was a recreational player, until Wang was 16 years old and ranked No. 60 nationally.
Now, as a senior captain, he remains the outspoken and easy-going leader, ensuring the team energy and atmosphere remains high and that everyone has fun.
Wang said he tries to lead by example by doing his best in both matches and practices to make his teammates feel compelled to try their hardest, though he also attributes his own growth to his teammates and coaches.
“I think I’ve changed a lot as a person since freshman year,” Wang said. “And in general, athletics is a great environment to grow as a person, since you learn how to be a leader, how to compete and how to manage your time. My coach has made me a more confident leader and made me into a more mature person overall.”
Men’s tennis head coach Wouter Hendrix described Wang as humble and grateful, which he said has rubbed off on the rest of the team.
Hendrix said even in the coronavirus pandemic, Wang maximizes every training opportunity he has.
“His positive attitude is really effective to the rest of the team,” Hendrix said. “He also makes no excuses — he doesn’t use the fact that we are in a pandemic as an excuse to not work on his game or conditioning.”
Senior teammate Jacob Edelchik recalled a match against LaSalle University where Wang was a point away from losing but came back and won, along with the team winning the overall match.
Edelchik said that match was especially memorable.
“I remember all of us rushing to the court,” Edelchik said. “We were lifting Harry (Wang) up like the most precious, amazing thing ever — it was fun.”
Both Edelchik and Hendrix highlighted a match against the Navy in 2019, where Wang defeated the best player in the conference in a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 comeback victory.
“We were all just super pumped for him,” Edelchik said. “It was a moment when we were all like, ‘Wow, if Harry can beat the best guy in the conference, we could beat this team.’”
Despite his success, Wang said his seasons have never gone smoothly.
During his freshman year, managing his training and course load as an engineer was a difficult obstacle that he said took a toll on himself. Then as a sophomore, Wang had a shoulder injury that impacted the second half of his spring season.
“That was one of my first major injuries in my career,” Wang said. “I started out playing really well, but around spring break, I lost about six matches in a row, so that was really tough to deal with, but that helped put things in perspective and reminded me to take care of my body.”
During his junior season, Wang was having his best year record-wise at 7-3, but the season was abruptly halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, which he described as the toughest challenge for him.
However, Wang said the early stoppage helped him to look past his athletic career to set more goals outside of tennis, particularly with his major in the mechanical engineering field.
In addition to juggling tennis, classes and employment after graduation, Wang also founded Doghorse State, a college apparel company, along with his teammate, junior Andrew Nakhjavan. “Right now, it’s nothing big, but something that I’ve been working on for fun,” Wang said. “If it works out, that’s great, and if it doesn’t, there’s a lot I can learn from that.”
Looking back at his past seasons, he offered advice to future college athletes to come in with realistic expectations and an open mind, but to set great goals for constant improvement. In 2021, Wang looks to get back on the court for his senior season.