WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Haroon Ullah, a talented mainstay with the men's tennis team for four years and recipient of an Arthur Ashe Jr. sportsmanship award, has been named winner of the 1999 Borleske Trophy, which is presented annually to the outstanding male athlete at Whitman College.
The trophy, which is awarded by a vote of the Whitman coaching staff, recognizes athletic ability and accomplishments, leadership and sportsmanship qualities, and contributions to the campus as a whole.
Ullah, who was hobbled by a painful knee injury his last two seasons, enjoyed most of his collegiate court success in doubles. Ullah, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Pakistan, teamed with Askay Shetty, a native of Bombay, India, to post a 30-6 record against Northwest Conference (NWC) opponents during their four years at Whitman.
Joining forces midway through their freshman season, Ullah and Shetty finished that campaign with an 8-0 record in conference play and captured the conference doubles title.
As seniors, Ullah and Shetty led Whitman to an 11-1 NWC dual meet record and a share of the regular season conference title. They were a perfect 10-0 as conference doubles partners and finished the season with a 15-4 record overall, good enough for a No. 13 national ranking in NCAA Div. III. They were ranked No. 4 in the NCAA's West Division.
A Whitman team captain as a junior and senior, Ullah was a "true leader, on and off the court," Whitman coach Jeff Northam said. "His character and leadership qualities are very strong, and he is a very likeable person. Not only was he well liked by his teammates, he was well liked by the people he played against. That isn't always the case in competitive athletics."
Ullah graduated from Whitman earlier this month with honors in politics. He graduated cum laude, which requires a mininum cumulative grade point average of 3.65 on a 4.0 scale. He was one of three varsity athletes in his graduating class who received Whitman's Scholar Athlete Award in each of their four years.
Ullah and three of his tennis teammates also earned Scholar-Athlete All-American awards from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association at the end of their junior and senior seasons.
A year ago, Ullah was honored as the NCAA Div. III West Region winner of the Arthur Ashe Jr. Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship. The Ashe awards, given annually by Tennis Magazine and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, honors student-athletes who combine achievements in tennis with scholastic and extracurricular accomplishments, sportsmanship, leadership, character and humanitarian concern.
Ullah, who worked as a volunteer at St. Mary Hospital in Walla Walla during his years at Whitman, plans to pursue a master's degree in public health. He hopes to one day work in the public health field, possibly focusing on immunization and child development.
Ullah also has volunteered his time in recent years as a youth soccer coach and as director of the Project Learn to Read program in Walla Walla.
Beginning in September, Ullah will spend the next year studying abroad on a Thomas J. Watson fellowship. One of 60 fellowship recipients from America's top liberal arts colleges, Ullah will study the game of soccer and the various cultural roles it plays in different countries. He notes that soccer, known as futbol in most of the world, functions as a social outlet in India, a social unifer in Israel, a medium for ethnic differentiation and political expression in Cameroon, and a national art form in Brazil. He plans to visit each of those countries, playing the game with children, observing the game as a fan, and sharing experiences with some of the world's greatest players.
Ullah, a 1995 graduate of Richland (Wash.) High School, is a life-long soccer fan who played the sport on a variety of club and school teams before he enrolled at Whitman.
The Watson fellowship program, which seeks to reward "seriously creative" people, was founded in 1968 by the children of Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM, and his wife, Jennette K. Watson, in honor their parents' long-standing interest in education and world affairs. The program gives its recipients the chance to explore a particular area of interest or concern, test their aspirations and abilities, view their lives and American society in greater perspective, and develop a more informed sense of international concerns.
Ullah is one of 10 Whitman students who have received Watson fellowships in the past four years. No other school in the nation has claimed as many. Each recipient this year receives $22,000 to pay for travel and living expenses during their year-long study project.
Ullah is the son of Muhammed and Zarfashan Ullah of Richland, Wash.