HBS Exceptional Athlete Awards: Q&A with Jeff Zeller

Harbus Logo[stag_dropcap font_size=”50px” style=”normal”]L[/stag_dropcap]ast week, Delia Zanoschi and Tum Preugpaibul (RCs) announced the winners of the inaugural HBS exceptional athlete awards, an initiative they started this year to recognize the best athletes at HBS. This week, Delia and Tum interviewed HBS Class of 2016 tennis winner Jeff Zeller in a compelling Q&A.

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When did you start playing tennis?

zeller 1
RC Jeff Zeller, Sec B

I started playing when I was 7. My family is big into tennis; my mom and both of her brothers played growing up. Our family ran a tennis camp for kids every summer in Colorado and that is where I learned to play. I started competing in local tournaments when I was 10 and started playing regional and national tournaments when I was 12.

What are three key areas that have carried you to winning titles?

You have to have a weapon in tennis to be good. My weapons are my serve, consistency, and mental skills. These elements definitely helped me achieve a level of performance that earned me my ultimate goal – being captain of the Stanford tennis team.

Zeller 4What was your magic moment?

In the finals of the Colorado state championship match my senior year of high school, I was playing my rival in front of 1,500 people and was within one point of losing six different times. I came back and won and I have a great memory of all of my teammates storming onto the court and tackling me.

Looking back, what did playing sports teach you?

The value of work ethic. I was able to improve more than others because I was willing to spend more hours practicing, and it didn’t hurt that I really enjoyed it. I think this applies to anything in life – put in the effort and good things happen.

What is one of the greatest lessons that life has taught you?Zeller 3

I’ve come to understand the value of relationships. In order to achieve anything in life, you need people to support you. I’m very grateful to the people in my life that have shown support no matter which decisions I make.

How do you want to be remembered?

I want to be remembered as someone who brought energy and enthusiasm to everything that I did.

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Steve jobs quote