Harvard Portrait: Traci Green

Traci Green

In 1978, tennis sensation Tracy Austinhad made her first name a hot property--thus, Frank and Tina Sloan Green named their new daughter Traci. But even though Frank played high-school football and ran track in college, and Tina, who’s in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, coached three Temple squads to NCAA titles, they hardly expected her to play tennis, let alone make the U.S. junior team or become Harvard’s head women’s tennis coach. Traci attended the Friends Select School in Philadelphia (“I was one of the fastest kids in my class through seventh grade”); two years after learning tennis, she was top-ranked in her region. Arthur Ashe invited her to his camps and clinics in Florida; in the evenings, he “talked life skills with us,” Green recalls. “He had us solving ancient Mayan puzzles; he really thought outside the box.” Green won a full tennis scholarship to the University of Florida, which she likens to being “thrown onto a conveyor belt--our sole job was to win the NCAA title.” They did, in her sophomore year. An unconventional, all-court player, she ranked as high as fifth nationally in doubles, and won sportsmanship awards. “I’m a calm person,” she says. “You couldn’t tell whether I was winning or losing by looking at me.” Green coached at Temple herself for three years while earning a master’s in sports administration before coming to Harvard in 2007, where her team shared the 2009 Ivy title. The Ivy emphasis on academics was “very appealing,” she says. “I’ve never been a win-at-all-costs type person.” She loves Philadelphia’s pro teams and has been to the last two World Series. And she has just taken up squash. “It’s fun,” she says. “I’m terrible!”

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