Yosef Yan wasn’t content with simply being a sophomore on the varsity tennis team at Eastern Wayne.
Following his first season of high school tennis in which he spent most of the year as the Warriors seventh or eighth seed, Yan dedicated himself to improving his game. He spent countless hours – sometimes with friends; sometimes alone – sharpening his skills.
“When I first started, I wasn’t that good,” Yan said. “I practiced a lot in practice and outside of school and even in the summer. I would play with friends and I would hit to the wall. I think my serve has probably improved the most – and my forehand.”
Yan maintains a 4.76 weighted grade point average and he is involved in multiple additional activities at Eastern Wayne. He also is a member of the Church Leadership Team at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. Yan is this week’s Mt. Olive Pickles High School Athlete of the Week.
The Mt. Olive Pickles High School Athlete of the Week is a partnership between Curtis Media Group, Mt. Olive Pickles and Worrell Contracting to recognize local high school athletes who excel athletically, academically and through service to their community.
Each Friday morning through May 12, a local high school athlete will be recognized on the WGBR morning show as well as in a feature story on goldsborodailynews.com. The recognized athletes are chosen by the athletic department and administration from their respective high schools.
Yan’s climb up the Eastern Wayne depth chart has been the product of hard work while following in his father’s footsteps as a high school tennis player. Modeling his game after professional tennis player Novak Djokovic has provided Yan with some added inspiration.
“I just practice a lot,” Yan said. “I practice two hours, sometimes, every day in the summer. I started playing tennis because my dad, he played tennis in high school. I really like Novak Djokovic because we play kind of similar. He plays with a right forehand and a two-handed backhand.”
Yan has learned the value of time management as he juggles tennis, school and a full schedule of extracurricular activities. He serves as the president of the Math Club and he is also a member of the Key Club, National Honor Society, CTE Honor Society, Science Club and the Ping Pong Club.
“It’s about not procrastinating,” Yan said. “You have to not take breaks in between stuff and try to get things done. You have to keep your priorities straight.”
Yan’s progression on the court and his development as a leader and example to his teammates has been a joy to watch for Eastern Wayne head tennis coach Craig Hassell.
“It’s been super,” Hassell said. “I’ve been amazed like everybody else at his growth this year. He worked so hard in the offseason.”
The peace of mind Hassell has in knowing Yan puts forth the same effort academically that he does on the tennis court is invaluable. Hassell knows the example Yan sets for his teammates as a well-rounded student athlete is just as important.
“As a coach it’s so much easier when you don’t have to worry about academics and kids getting in trouble,” Hassell said. “Most of our kids know what to do and Yosef exemplifies that.”
It should come as no surprise that as a junior Yan has already developed a plan for his life beyond high school. He plans to major in engineering and hopes to attend North Carolina State University.
“I want to study robotics engineering or maybe mechanical engineering,” he said.