M. Tennis: Hirshman a true Renaissance man

April 14, 2011, 1:49 a.m.

He’s the founder and Editor in Chief of the Cardinal Principle. He’s double-majoring in math and economics. And he’s writing his honors thesis on how varying tax rates and government expenditures affect incentives and work output. All that while being one of the most consistent performers on the men’s tennis team for four years.

It’s safe to say that senior Greg Hirshman has a lot to show for his career on the Farm, and as his senior year comes to a close, Hirshman graciously offered to reflect on his Stanford experience.

M. Tennis: Hirshman a true Renaissance man
Senior Greg Hirshman has contributed to much more than just the tennis team in his four years on the Farm, also founding a newspaper and pursuing a double major. (FRANK NOTHAFT/The Stanford Daily)

When I first sat down to talk to Greg, he took the time to warn me that if I didn’t stop him, he could talk forever. Indeed, we ended up talking about numerous topics you won’t see reproduced here–tennis psychology, upper-level math courses, Peyton Manning and John Stuart Mill to name a few–but when it came down to it, he narrowed down his Stanford experience to a list of three endeavors: playing tennis, diving into math and economics and creating the Cardinal Principle.

Hirshman has a team-best 14-3 record in dual matches this season, but tennis has meant much more to him than just wins and losses.

“I couldn’t imagine being a student at Stanford without tennis,” Hirshman said. “The team is amazing and tennis has become so ingrained in my life that it’s one of the big driving forces that gets me excited every day about getting up. It’s a lot of work and it doesn’t come easy, but you can achieve so much outside the classroom and mean something extra to the university.”

Hirshman has shown tremendous leadership both on the tennis court and in the classroom. Consequently, he has been chosen to captain the United States tennis team at the World University Games–most aptly described as the Olympics for collegiate athletes around the world–in Shenzen, China this summer.

Hirshman believes that the games will provide an amazing way to culminate all of his hard work on the tennis court, but will also provide a transition into the new role tennis will play in his future–as a way to continue to meet a diverse array of people.

“One story I love is that my dad, who didn’t spend nearly as much time playing competitive tennis as I have, met both his boss and his wife on the tennis court,” Hirshman said. “I’ve met some amazing people myself and even though my livelihood won’t be directly tied to tennis, I’m sure it [will] always play a big part in my life.”

One such acquaintance that Hirshman made through tennis is ex-California State Controller and Chief Financial Officer Steve Westly. Westly, a prominent Democrat who chaired Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign in California, will be featured in the next issue of the Cardinal Principle alongside Condoleezza Rice.

The fact that the Cardinal Principle is now sponsoring debates between such prominent political figures is a testament to the amount of time and energy Hirshman has poured into the paper that didn’t even exist four years ago.

“I started the newspaper as a freshman with the stated purpose to print articles from any political viewpoint to stimulate debate on campus,” Hirshman said. “It’s a little different from most newspapers, which often either have a specific political agenda or aren’t politically focused.”

The paper usually features a number of articles that provide contrasting viewpoints on contentious issues. The front-page stories this year have been “Exams, Alcohol and Sex on Campus: Two Views” and “The Second Amendment: Two Viewpoints.” The paper has tackled topics ranging from IHUM to Wikileaks to how political parties abuse the English language.

Hirshman usually contributes a number of articles himself to each issue, as well as organizing the paper and getting students across campus to contribute.

Hirshman said the Cardinal Principle lets his inner tennis player shine through.

“When I write an article, I write my article and then send it to someone else to write a counter. They can see my article, but I never get to see their article until the paper’s published,” Hirshman said. “I’m basically saying, ‘I’m going to beat you hitting crosscourt forehands. You know every forehand I hit is going crosscourt, but I think I can hit crosscourt forehands so well that I’ll beat you anyway.’”

“Who knows if I actually end up winning, but I do get to develop a very good crosscourt forehand,” Hirshman added with a smile.

Hirshman’s last issue as Editor in Chief will be released in two weeks.

All in all, Hirshman acknowledged just how much he has grown while at Stanford.

“My experience at Stanford, combining the math and economics on the academic side, the newspaper on the extracurricular side and the tennis on the athletic side has helped prepare me to be able to control all the things I will have to moving forward in my life,” Hirshman said.

Hirshman will be attending the London School of Finance and Private Equity next year, but will certainly be missed here at Stanford. Whether on the tennis court, in the classrooms or at the printing press, it’s safe to say that Hirshman gave everything to his endeavors on the Farm.


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