Hall of Fame

Thomas Blake

Graduation Year


Induction Year


Hall of Fame

Harvard Athletic Achievements

When it comes to tennis, Thomas Blake can flat out play—and he has the resume to back it up. Tom is a two-time All-American, named to the team in 1996 for singles and 1997 for doubles. The four-year letterwinner was named the EITA/Ivy Player of the Year as well as the EITA/Ivy Sportsman of the Year in 1997. His senior year, he earned the title of EITA/Ivy Senior of the Year (1998). Tom was a fierce competitor on the court, earning First Team All-EITA accolades in 1996 and 1997 for singles. With partner Mitt Arnold ’97, Tom earned a spot on the All-EITA First Team for doubles in 1997. Tom was also named to the All-EITA Second Team in 1995 for singles and 1996 for doubles. Blake played an instrumental role in the success of his team, which went on to win four Ivy League championships (1994-1998). He is a recipient of the 1998 ITA Van Nostrand Award and was tabbed the 1998 Regional I ITA/Farnsworth Senior Player of the Year (Northeast). In addition, he won the 1998 Regional I ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship.

Hall of Fame

Remembering Harvard Athletics

First, I would like to thank the Varsity Club. This is a great honor and one that I never imagined getting at any point while I played. I also want to congratulate all of the other athletes who are being inducted tonight. I know some of you well and some not as well but reading through all of your accomplishments, I am humbled to be considered one of your peers. My time here at Harvard and on the tennis team was very special to me and there are so many people who were a huge part of it. There are too many teammates to name them all, but there are a couple that I have to single out. Mitty Arnold carried me to an NCAA doubles final. I’ll never forget hearing about an opposing coach gush over his doubles game and when asked about his partner, Mitty said something like, “Who Tommy? Oh Tommy’s good too.” Kunj Majmudar, my current landlord, has randomly popped up in various countries to support me and my brother. And though he routinely tuned me up in the first set of each practice match that we ever played, he was always gracious enough to eventually let me win. Mike Passarella, my junior doubles partner and good friend growing up, came to Harvard a year after I did. Without his and his family’s help, there is a good chance I wouldn’thave even made it to a Division One school. And I can’t leave out Phil Tseng, my co-captain on the team. I can’t remember anyone else on the team as good as he at knowing exactly the right thing to say to lighten the mood when we got too serious. Tennis is, for the most part, a very individual sport. Having the opportunity to be on a team with so many great guys who were always pulling for each other was one of the best experiences I got to have over my collegiate and tennis career. I consider each and every one of them friends to this day and hope they will remain so for many years to come.

I was lucky enough to have a bunch of great roommates here at Harvard as well. Living together for three or four years, it can be hard not to get in each other’s way. This is made especially difficult when everyone is on a completely different schedules with sports and classes. And yet no one ever complained about my early morning alarms for practice or my stringing machine taking up space in the corner of the common room. It’s great that Matt and I can provide an excuse for most of us to get back together again.

The coaches and training staff here at Harvard are a large part of the success that our teams have had over the years. It cannot be an easy task to run an individual sport that has been thrown into a team format. Everyone has a different style of game and responds to different coaching. Dave Fish has been successfully guiding the team here, I believe since the year I was born, and it doesn’t look like he is slowing down (nor is the team; they are ranked as high as we were back when I was in school). The assistant coaches have changed over the years but the two that were here with me were both helped me out a lot as well. Greg Russell, while hard to understand sometimes because of the thick Jamaican accent, provided a great contrast to Dave’s coaching style. Where Dave was great at analyzing all of the ins and outs of the game, Greg always seemed to know when I just needed to hear, “Tommy, just go out and hit the ball hard and beat this guy.” My other assistant, Pete Mandeau, was a guy I knew from his coaching days in CT. I’d heard most of his jokes already from junior tournaments but couldn’t help laughing all over again when he busted them out at practice. Finally, with all of my injuries over the years, I spent way too much time in the training room with Gary Geissler. It amazed me that he, and everyone else there, seemed even more invested in me getting healthy than I was sometimes. For the varied and constant support these people provided, I will always be grateful.

I was lucky enough to have great coaches before and after Harvard in addition to my time here. I’ve come to appreciate them even more now that I’ve done some coaching of my own. It is amazing to see just how bad some coaches are and how easily they can ruin a kid’s game. Thankfully I never experienced that. Brian Barker: I cannot say enough about what he did for me. Aside from teaching me my strokes, he taught me a great deal about life. He’s been an essential mentor in my life from the first time I stepped on the court with him. He helped me through just about every time in life that was difficult for me. To this day, he is someone I know I can count on when I need advice or counsel on any decision. And while he may repeat the advice a few times because he is convinced I don’t listen, it is always worth it. Terry London, who I got to know during my time here and then was lucky enough to travel with for part of my post college career, was another great influence. He has the perfect combination of tennis knowledge and attention to detail that is necessary when on the road for months at a time. He’s also possesses world class dj skills, just ask him.

Last and most importantly, I have to thank my family. My mom, dad, and brother, as well as my extended family, were all there for me from the first day I started playing. They were there for all of the ups and downs that go along with trying to make a career out of a sport. I have gotten to see too many “tennis parents” over my time playing this game and I believe I was blessed with two of the best. No one in the family ever tried to pressure me about how I approached the game itself. And some of the best advice they gave me about life came through their advice on the court. My father always told me that if I was going to pursue something, that I should do it to the best of my ability, and that has proven to be a guiding principle in all that I’ve done since then. Thank you.