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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Nadal, Federer, Helfant ‘85 by Matt McGann '00

Adam Helfant '85 is the new boss of professional men's tennis.

I’ve been reading many, many applications over the last month, and one thing that strikes me is that there are a lot of MIT applicants who like tennis, both playing and watching it. Thus, I’d guess a lot of the blog readership will be excited to learn this fact.

Adam Helfant, MIT Class of 1985, has been named the Executive Chairman & President of the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals).

As an undergraduate, Helfant lived in Burton-Conner, the same dorm that currently is home to Laura, Jess, Snively, and Shannon.

He majored in Materials Science and Engineering, earning his degree in just three and a half years. After MIT, he went to Harvard Law (the latest MIT Careers Office statistics have MIT graduates with an admission rate to Harvard Law 1.5 times higher than the national average). From there he went to a New York law firm, then to the NHL (professional hockey), then to Nike, where he was Vice President of Global Sports Marketing before being tapped by the ATP.

He’ll be on hand today as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal once again face off for a Major title, this one being the 2009 Australian Open (live on TV at 3:30 in the morning in Boston, oy).

Federer was quoted as saying some nice things about Helfant: “I met him in December and he also saw Rafa (Nadal) and Novak (Djokovic) before he got appointed, to sort of get the definite okay,” said Federer. “He’s a smart man, smart and honest and a guy I think who will do an excellent job for the ATP.”

Andy Roddick also had some nice things to say: “I actually was lucky enough to have dinner with him the other night. I was pretty impressed,” said Roddick. “He didn’t come in with kind of this braggadocio attitude of what he’s done, whatever. He kind of came in and he had his notepad and his pen, and he asked questions, and he wrote down notes. He didn’t come in like a know-it-all.
“It was an impressive meeting, that’s for sure,” he said. “After the meeting, I was glad that they had chosen him.”

Congratulations, Adam Helfant!

So, who is going to win tonight betwen Nadal and Federer?

Some other links relating to MIT and sports:

54 responses to “Nadal, Federer, Helfant ‘85”

  1. fouadalnoor says:

    grrreat blog! (and I am NOT going to say “First” it is so annoying when people say that…)

    ah and by the way matt, I took the SAT Exam this month, but it was my first time so I dont think I did my 100% best, is it too late to maybe take it again?

    (I live in the UK)

  2. Rankeya says:

    Hey Matt,

    I sent in my grades for class 12 even though I am an international student and the mid- year report doesn’t apply to me. So i just sent a photocopy of a mid- year grade 12 examination recently by courier. I know that even if it is processed it won’t show on my MYMIT account. So how would I know you received it?

    I know I shouldve faxed it but I already sent it by courier.

    I had also sent art supplements to the respective person according to the address given on the web. How do I really know that they have been received?

    Will my international EC be informed of my admissions decision?

  3. Carl says:

    Go Federer!!!!! (…although Rafa is an excellent player)
    Oh, and nice post Matt (I LOVE tennis)

  4. Vaibhav says:

    Nadal all the way !

  5. Anonymous says:

    Federer. I used to be all for Nadal– I love both of them really. But what happened after last year’s Wimbledon, I can’t help but secretly wish for the king of tennis to reclaim his throne.

  6. sepideh says:

    i am somehow one of the first teens playing tennis in iran and a huge fan of federer, not lost one minute of his games. however i didn’t mention a word about palying tennis in my application don’t know why…
    thanx matt for the brilliant post about tennis, you made my day. and thank you for answering my question in the previous post.

  7. sepideh says:

    @anonymous02:54:you’re just saying whats in my heart…GO FEDERER!!!

  8. Neo says:

    Hello Matt,

    In context of international applicants, what exactly are the factors that make an application strong at the initial level.

    Asking because of the following lines of THE SELECTION PROCESS:-
    “Once your application is complete, it will first be read by a senior admissions officer who will consider your application in a holistic manner, within its proper context. Strong applications will then be evaluated by another admissions officer who will summarize it at length for the committee.”

    And by the way Fedex(Federer) is my choice.

  9. ρ says:

    I am rooting for Roger all the way. He, I believe, is the best tennis play to have ever played the game. I really hope that he beats his arch rival Nadal and, in doing so, tie his historic rival Pete Sampras in terms of slams. It would be even better if he could take the French Open from Nadal, and hey, why not, makes this the year that he gets the Golden Slam, but I guess I shouldn’t get ahead of myself, or himself.

  10. Q says:

    Matt my friend…This post was a Grand Slam….wocka wocka wocka

  11. Narce says:

    Interesting! I never mentioned it in my application, but I also enjoy watching tennis.

    Of course, that enjoyment was born, originally, from The Prince of Tennis manga, but I genuinely like the sport now “>.> (way more than full-team sports, anyway, of which I only like (non-American) football)

  12. Dhvanit says:

    3 and a half years for the MSE! That is truly awesome !

    p.s.Federer will WIN !

  13. wow, awesome! MIT alumi popping up in the sports world! lol. smile

    What’s next? A MIT graduate football player? lol.

  14. Azeem ('13?) says:

    Hey no football shout-outs? c’mon DeRon Brown made the d3league All American football team.

  15. anonymous says:

    Rafa won 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-2!!!!!!

  16. Suril says:

    @Dhvanit: He just proved you wrong! d=

    @Varun: Straight sets in the final? Too boring.

    Gruelling battle, naaice!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Roddick is the best! Well, maybe not this year. Nadal wins in straight sets. For sure.

  18. Jared says:

    Roddick is the best! Well, maybe not this year. Nadal wins in straight sets. For sure.

  19. Max Menzies says:

    Rafa all the way. He played so well against Verdasco’s onslaught, despite obviously taking his shots easy to conserve energy for Federer. On the other hand, Federer’s semi and quarter looked absolutely astonishing, but that’s only because Juan basically gave him awesome shot opportunities on a PLATTER, over and over again, and Roddick… sucks. No offense to you Yanks, you’ve got Serena and the Bryans. So a lot of people think Federer is set to win, I think it’ll be a great match.
    Second, Rafa is a much better guy, funny, modest, likeable, down to earth Spaniard. Federer is a slimy Swiss, disliked by many players, for good reason, as I don’t trust him and think he aggravates players off camera. For ages he was seriously condescending about the youngsters of the game, rarely congratulates players sincerely, AND is now coachless, another proof of his arrogance, while Nadal keeps trying to improve year after year.
    Finally, I don’t want Federer to get his hands on a 14th major, as then people will say he’s the best ever. Federer dominated in a time without competition. Sampras had gone, Agassi had gone, Nadal hadn’t risen (except on clay where he is a totally different man, more like god), and Hewitt… sucks. Cmon Nadal, you can get the Grand Slam this year!!

  20. Varun says:

    Just what I hoped wouldn’t happen – he dropped his confidence completely when Nadal broke him in the final set! After holding on for so long – believing that he could actually win this, he blew it in the final set!

    Well, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from the first 16 years of life, it’s resilience! Put the past behind you…

  21. Ahana says:

    Yes, Nadal played very well. But my heart is bleeding for Roger Federer. He’s still King.

  22. James says:

    Many applicants enjoy tennis? That’s hilarious. I am wondering the same as Torffick. Are there tennis courts and/or table tennis at MIT?

  23. Varun says:

    Good post Matt.

    Yeah I did mention about me playing tennis. Love the game – watching and playing. I consider it as arguably the most gruelling sport in the world.

    About today – Federer will win if he’s put the past behind him. But if he hasn’t, well I’m afraid he’ll lose in straight sets.

  24. deng says:

    ^true, it’s all mental.

  25. Claire '13 says:

    Am I the only one that was like “heh…ATP…”?

  26. Tree says:

    I just gained a lot of respect for Rafa. He deserves every bit of the glory.
    I wish Federer hadn’t cried. I guess losing a match like that is very very hard. You could see it broke him.

    It was superb tennis, anyway. Made me want to pick up my racquet and play.

  27. deng says:

    @roshal
    ugh. wii tennis is a disgrace to the real sport xD

    @James
    I believe there are 11 courts right outside some of the dorms on west campus, as well as some in their sports center and some scattered around east campus.
    if I get in… I really want to live in west campus just because of those 11 tennis courts :-D

    table tennis!! I’m not sure, but I’d think there are plenty considering how popular of a sport it must be at a school like MIT (come on, ping pong is so asiany)

  28. akhila says:

    Awesome blog Matt. I don’t know why I didn’t mention about tennis in my app though I am mad, crazy, passionate and what not everything about tennis. Today is Federer’s day and I want him to beat Rafa in straight sets.

  29. akhila says:

    Awesome blog Matt. I don’t know why I didn’t mention about tennis in my app though I am mad, crazy, passionate and what not everything about tennis. Today is Federer’s day and I want him to beat Rafa in straight sets.

  30. Anonymous says:

    just to be clear, he didn’t play in the nhl… did he?

    if he did, he is now my hero, FOREVER

  31. '12 says:

    @ A confused guy: i am not related to admissions at all, but how about doing what you actually really want to do? People tend to excel when they do something they are passionate about, and willing to lose sleep over it. Who knows maybe Gaming Programming would still give you great skills. =) good luck!

  32. Torffick says:

    I don’t know if this is strange but his career path–or academic path–took different turns.
    He studied Materials Science and Engineering at MIT, then went to Law School at Harvard? Then sports? talk about career changes, this is just a fine example that one’s degree is not the determinant of one’s life.

    Great blog Matt.
    But I didn’t see any tennis courts when I visited…Well the Z Center is pretty huge so I probably just missed them.

    Heyy…what about Table Tennis?
    haha

  33. anonymous says:

    @Claire ’13:

    Definitely not. Heh.

  34. sepideh says:

    i think it’s a completely psychologic issue, federer is sticking to the past, he could win it easily. he is still my hero will be forever, he made me start tennis. the king will return…

  35. Shubhham says:

    Nadal got it!!!!!, beats fedrer in a classic five set match.

  36. Roshal says:

    Oh…I don’t play tennis. But it is fun, to play.

    lol I hope those applicants were serious and didn’t mean wii tennis

  37. Roshal says:

    I mean its fun to play for fun, not as a sport for school.

  38. Vice says:

    Yes, Nadal is the best, there’s no doubt about it! ^^

  39. Hi Matt, I’ve got a question. I’m an international student applying for a summer program in the US. I have a choice between a summer program emphasizing on gaming and game programming and one that emphasizes on advanced C++ programming. I really want to go for the gaming one, but I’m sure admissions officers will look more favourably at the programming one. What would you suggest?

  40. Mikey says:

    hehe. I don’t usually comment on here, just read, however, this is definitely an area of interest to me!

    It’s really cool that someone can go on to do all sort of great things after getting an undergraduate degree in Engineering(and materials science for that matter).

    Also, unfortunately Federer lost. And cried. I felt really bad for him. He’s a good guy though, as is Nadal, both great ambassadors to the sport. I have no doubt that Fed will eventually beat Sampras’ record, he has the fire and passion inside, and will work as hard as needed to get there.

    After all, if you look back at that 3rd set, Fed had so many chances. He’s just got to deal with the pressure a little better(as well as that nasty lefty spin to the backhand).

    Thanks for a great post!

  41. Mikey says:

    hehe. I don’t usually comment on here, just read, however, this is definitely an area of interest to me!

    It’s really cool that someone can go on to do all sort of great things after getting an undergraduate degree in Engineering(and materials science for that matter).

    Also, unfortunately Federer lost. And cried. I felt really bad for him. He’s a good guy though, as is Nadal, both great ambassadors to the sport. I have no doubt that Fed will eventually beat Sampras’ record, he has the fire and passion inside, and will work as hard as needed to get there.

    After all, if you look back at that 3rd set, Fed had so many chances. He’s just got to deal with the pressure a little better(as well as that nasty lefty spin to the backhand).

    Thanks for a great post!

  42. Carl says:

    7-5 3-6 … c’mon Federer!

  43. Link says:

    @Sheila (’13?)

    Maybe you never know.smile

  44. Maybe, but how can I leave something like that to chance? Admissions officers are humans (duh!) and they are subject to the tiny nuances of human nature. A gaming camp doesn’t sound anywhere near as impressive as a programming camp. And when you’re just dying to go to MIT, a camp here or there feels sort of irrelevant. You don’t want to spoil your chances just because you did something you wanted to do, rather than something more ‘productive’.

  45. anonymous says:

    @ confused guy

    Maybe you should read the “Recommended High School Preparation” link on the admission’s site. At the bottom of the page it addresses Extracurricular Activities. It discusses doing what is right for you and not what you think is right for MIT. On your application, they want to see you being you – pursuing the things you love. Another good link on the admission’s site is “The Match Between You and MIT.” Take a look at both of those links and do what you love. As they state on their site, “Cloning is still for sheep.” Be your own best person! Good luck!

  46. Rafa for the president!!! lol

    @ Matt,

    thanks for mentioning tennis on your blog

    finally, federer cries or admits that it is killing him ( whatever the heck it is).

    i hope that emotion will make him even stronger or increases his desire to get this first french title.

    I am waiting for some fireworks to unfold from Federer in his first round match at Dubai’s ATP Tournament.

    Go Federer!

    P.S:
    Congrats to Rafa, he is definitely in superhuman mode. Hope he continues his form smile

  47. As much as I’d like to go for game programming, I think admissions would think I’d wasted my summer or something. And frankly, I don’t want to leave it to chance. =(

  48. Kunaal says:

    @Confused Guy: I don’t really know you- I’m not related to MIT (except as an applicant) as of now and definitely not to the Admissions Office. But here’s what I have to say- You care so much about MIT because you love the university and want to be a part of it. Will you be able to care so much about C++ (even if you don’t love it)? Don’t try and make MIT love what you do. They’ll love you if you do what you love and love how you do it! (That’s a lot of love in a statement! Haha! But I guess you get what I mean!)

    @Matt: Thanks for the post- each post tells me something new about MIT! And I must say, almost each time, I’m pleasantly surprised- whether it’s getting to know about MIT grads in the sports world or watching that video about Snively’s spastic-spidey-bot-thing or his gigantic-snowman! :D

    @Anyone-who-cares-about-tennis!
    I hope Federer cries again after the next clash with Nadal- tears of joy this time around! smile
    (Who do I support? Rather blatantly obvious,right?)
    Anyways- Nadal played well and Federer made mistakes… but I still think Federer PWNs Nadal! raspberry

  49. Aoede says:

    Question:

    One of my teachers’ recommendations got lost in the mail, but when I asked him to fax a copy to the office like it said on the tracking page, he asked if there was any other way of sending it, since he doesn’t own a fax machine. (Or, presumably, have easy access to one.) So – is it allowed for missing application pieces to be resent through mail or email?

  50. Ashwin says:

    Both are great players. To watch them play is a delight. I don’t choose sides, just pray for a five-setter :D

  51. Well, it is definitely a delight to watch them play.
    Right now, I have to chose federer to up his game and give us a competitive five setter(especially a competitive fifth set) as can be seen in verdasco and nadal’s match.

    Otherwise, sides really don’t matter, as both are big-time gladiators.

    Personally, I would be more delighted to see myself play or perform than watch someone play.

    Unfortunately, not in tennis as of this moment.
    Maybe, I could gear myself to perform at that level in other areas.