June 28, 2007
NEW HAVEN, Conn.--Former Yale tennis captain Geoff Tabin has been selected as the winner of the 2007 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Achievement Award. Tabin, the Bulldogs' captain in 1977 and 1978, will receive the award on Sept. 7 during the U.S. Open in New York.
This unique and prestigious award was created by the ITA to honor collegiate tennis players who have gone on to careers outside of professional tennis. These individuals must achieve excellence while making a special contribution to society. To be selected, players must have been a member of the varsity tennis team and graduated from college. Dr. Tabin was selected mainly for his work developing systems of eye care delivery and corneal surgery in the developing world, and the program he started in 1994 called the "Himalayan Cataract Project."
Tabin led the Bulldogs to a 29-11 record in his two seasons as captain, including a 16-4 mark in 1977. Yale twice finished second in the Eastern Intercollegiate Tennis Association, going 7-2 in EITA play in 1977 and 8-1 in 1978.
Dr. Tabin is receiving the award for his contributions in improving eye-care and decreasing needless blindness in the developing world. After graduating from Yale, he earned a master's degree at Oxford on a Marshall Scholarship and an M.D. at Harvard. While working as a general doctor in a remote area of Nepal, Dr. Tabin witnessed what he describes as the "miracle" of cataract surgery.
He said, "It was accepted in our village that when a person grows old their hair turns white, then the eye turns white and then you die. Once a person went blind the life expectancy was short and, with no social services, it required another member of the family to care for their blind relative. The impact on the family and community was devastaing. However, after cataract surgery people were not only restored to sight, but back to useful life."
He returned to an ophthalmology residency at Brown and then a corneal transplantation fellowship. Tabin then moved back to Nepal where he taught modern cataract surgery. In conjunction with his Nepali partner, Dr. Sanduk Ruit, he has developed systems of eye-care and cataract surgery training which has resulted in an increase in cataract surgery in Nepal from 15,000 in 1994 to 160,000 in 2006. They have developed a world class eye hospital in Kathmandu with a full western standard ophthalmology residency program. They have also been working to develop eye-care in Bhutan, Tibet, Sikkim, India and more recently in Ghana and Ethiopia, and have trained doctors from more than 20 countries. Dr. Tabin is currently Professor and Director of International Ophthalmology at the John A Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah Medical School. In conjunction with the UN Millennium Development Project, they are working to expand their work in Africa. For more information about the Himalayan Cataract Project see www.cureblindness.org.
Tabin was also the fourth person ever to climb the "Seven Summits," the highest point of all seven continents, including the East Face of Mt. Everest on one of his trips to Nepal.
The awards ceremony, hosted by the International Tennis Hall of Fame, takes place in New York at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on Sept. 7. Tabin will receive a plaque as well as a specially engraved Rolex Watch, which will be presented by tennis Hall of Famer Stan Smith, the 1971 U.S. Open and 1972 Wimbledon champion. He will also be a special guest of the USTA for the U.S. Open women's semifinals that afternoon.
In recognition of Tabin's award, the ITA will make a $1,000 donation to the Yale men's tennis program.