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Crimson Characters: Tennis' Chris Clayton

Editor's Note:
The feature story below on men's tennis senior captain Chris Clayton, is part of a year-long commitment to highlight Harvard’s captains and other intriguing student-athletes. For more question-and-answer features click here and enjoy the high-caliber student-athletes whom we have come to enjoy.

Harvard senior co-captain Chris Clayton is almost done with his Crimson career, but not before he takes one last shot at the NCAA Championships beginning May 20 at Texas A&M. Having already been named the Farnsworth/ITA Senior Player of the Year for the Northeast Region as well as the Ivy League Player of the Year, Clayton currently stands 79th in the latest ITA rankings.

 

What is your concentration?

Sociology.

 

How has competing in athletics helped you to succeed in the classroom? How has the classroom helped you become a better athlete?

It has made me realize that intensity, whether in the classroom or on the athletic field, is the key to success.

 

What are your future plans for a career once you finish school?

I am actively involved with a Web startup, groupspeak.com, that I will continue to work for as long as possible. Starting up a company is tougher than I had imagined, but it is a gratifying experience in that it tests your creative limits.

 

What has been your favorite class during your four years at school?

The American Presidency taught by Prof. Roger Porter, Housemaster of Dunster.

 

What will you miss most about Harvard?

Dunster dining hall.

 

What are your future plans as far as tennis is concerned?

Men’s opens in New England.

 

Being from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., how did you decide to come to Harvard?

Mark Riddell ’04 convinced me that if I had a shot at Harvard, I should take it.

 

Describe what your main duties were as a captain?

Making guys run dominators for being late.

 

You were also a two-time captain. Did that make this season any easier for you compared to your junior year?

Not so much, enjoyed every minute.

 

What was the transition like going from southern Florida to Boston?

I looked forward to a change of season for the first time and life without air conditioning.  There is a lot of AC in Fla.

 

Is there anything from Florida that you’ve missed while at school? Was there anything you’ve enjoyed while up in New England that you didn’t have in Florida?

I have missed my dogs and being able to wear sandals all the time.

 

You’ve been to the NCAA Championships before. Does that help as you prepare for the singles championships this season?

Without a doubt, having been there last year, I have a much better idea as to what the atmosphere is and how hard the guys compete.

 

Although injuries are a part of every team, this year the lineup changed numerous times with different players out at different times. What kind of challenge does that present the team?

It is never a good thing. Ideally, you have a solid lineup that everyone has confidence in. Shake-ups in the lineup breed uncertainty. Then again, a good team needs to be prepared for anything.

 

You and teammate Michael Libert have been involved in creating a Web site for Harvard tennis alumni to reconnect. Tell us about how that came about?

We wanted a way to stay connected with the team after we leave. We thought what better way to do it than through setting up our own social network. Mike and I put a decent amount of time into it over the past year, and it is about ready to go.

 

How did you first become involved in tennis?

Big tennis playing family; grandparents, both parents and my three siblings all grew up playing.

 

Did having younger siblings in tennis mean you were a coach to them in a way?

Not so much a coach as a chaperone at times for a few tournaments. My brother and I practiced constantly as juniors and sometimes hit with our sisters as well.

 

With all the trips you have taken for tennis, is there any place(s) that you enjoyed the most?

Napa Valley, hands down.