Inside Athletics

Kiril Kirkov - Senior Reflection 2017

Kiril Kirkov - Senior Reflection 2017

Unlike most students that attend Carnegie Mellon, I did not have a clear career path planned out or any sort of expectations coming in as a freshman. Prior to arriving in August of 2013 for orientation week, I had never stepped foot on campus before. In fact, prior to Coach Girard’s email reaching out to me in December of 2012, during my senior year of high school, I knew next to nothing about Pittsburgh or Carnegie Mellon. However, it was this email, which was probably a generic one sent to all tennis recruits, that I can safely say changed my life forever. Fast forward to the present, with me sitting here reflecting on the past four years, and failing to imagine what would’ve happened if I had chosen to go to another school.

My time at CMU has been characterized by many incredible memories that will always stay with me. Winning against Emory for the first time in program history, watching Christian Heaney-Secord clinch the win against the first-ranked team in the country, competing in the NCAA tournament, as well as hanging out with my teammates in hotels and bus rides are some of the most memorable ones with the tennis team. Academically, I will always remember the experiences I had working on projects with my friends and the feeling of satisfaction after finishing a long assignment at 4 a.m. However, the one thing that will always stay with me is the friends that I have made in the past four years, especially those on the tennis team, with whom I have shared everything from season-ending losses to record-breaking wins.

As a result of my experiences on the tennis team, I have learned valuable skills that have taught me how to be a better person. By facing adversity, such as suffering a long-term injury that kept me from competing at the highest level for multiple seasons, I learned about the importance of commitment to yourself and your teammates. When it seemed impossible for me to come back from a wrist injury after multiple cortisone shots and surgery, I stuck to my goals and values and continued to work hard with the hopes of making a comeback before graduating. In the end, although I was able to successfully recover and compete once again in my senior year, it was not the achievement but rather the journey that I feel most satisfied with, which has allowed me to grow tremendously as a person and as a leader.

Going back to the spring of 2013, I distinctly remember imagining what my college career would be like, both academically and in tennis. I clearly recall dreaming about improving my game every year, playing at the top of the lineup for the team, and competing at the NCAA individual tournament among the nation’s best players. However, although it did not turn out quite like I had imagined it, if I could choose between that dream and my actual experience, I would pick the latter. Sometimes things not turning out the way you imagined them ends up being the best result after all.