HAVERFORD, Pa. - George Jiang, a member of the Haverford College men's tennis team, is the 2019 recipient of the Archibald MacIntosh Award. Jiang is the fourth men's tennis player to receive this honor in the award's 55-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.
Academic and athletic success is nothing new to the Haverford College men's tennis team. The Fords have made the Centennial Conference Tournament during 13 of the past 14 seasons and have ranked among the best colleges and universities for their number of student-athletes recognized as Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Scholar-Athletes. Last year, Haverford defeated nationally-ranked opponents, advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament, and had the fourth-highest number of ITA Scholar-Athletes across all of Division III.
"Balancing academics and athletics can be very delicate, but having great people around me to study, practice, and compete with is what got me through the year," explained Jiang.
Due to graduation and study abroad, the 2018-19 squad relied heavily on new players in the starting lineup. "We knew that George had to make a quick transition from high school to college for us to be successful as a team," said head men's tennis coach Brendan Kincaid who himself was in his first season at Haverford last year. "George really embraced that role, and as a young player that can be hard to do. His demeanor and the way he went about his work every day was constant. He is someone that you can count on to both win matches and be a great teammate. I'm glad that our team will have that presence for another three years because the qualities that have allowed him to be successful are only going to shine brighter with more experience."
Assuming the No. 3 spot in the singles lineup as well as the No. 2 position in the doubles lineup, Jiang earned All-Centennial Conference accolades for his play in both disciplines to go along with his status as an ITA Scholar-Athlete. Jiang led the Fords with 17 wins in doubles as he paired up with Pranav Krishnan '21. Jiang recorded 17 more victories in singles, with 13 of those wins coming in straight sets. That success included triumphs against opponents from nationally-ranked Rochester, TCNJ, and rival Swarthmore.
Jiang showed great skill early as he was named the Centennial Conference Player of the Week during the fall season and qualified for the ITA Regional Championships. Building on that first semester experience, it was the opening match of the spring season against NYU where Haverford's rookie sensation established himself as a true star in the lineup. Jiang had already won his doubles match against the Violets, but found himself down a set during singles play. Knowing his match was most likely going to decide the team score, Jiang rallied back to win both the second and third sets, clinching the team's 5-4 victory. Although that was the first win of the spring, it ended up being one of the statement victories for Haverford as NYU went on to finish the year as a nationally-ranked program.
Although that situation was certainly full of pressure, it was perhaps Jiang's background that made him perfectly suited to rise to the occasion. When talking about who helped him get to where he is today, Jiang is quick with his words of praise. "I have to give my parents the credit they deserve. Both my mother and my father told me repeatedly that I could do better than I thought I could, and they were nearly always right."
That sentiment is also something that Jiang's professors have noticed from him in the classroom during his first year at Haverford. "George is thoughtful, careful, and easy to work with. He is even-tempered and studious. He worked well independently and as a member of the group of the lab," commented chemistry lab instructor and coordinator Dr. Kelly Matz. Haverford's faculty athletic liaison and associate professor of chemistry Lou Charkoudian '03 echoed those sentiments by adding, "He is quietly determined and an impressively independent scholar."
As for the future, Jiang eventually plans on pursuing both his master's and Ph.D. in chemistry. However, if his first-year at Haverford was any indication, the next three years are sure to be filled with even more success for one of Haverford's many rising stars.