Andrew Lin ’16 came to the high school believing he could make the varsity team in his first year. He started playing tennis recreationally in sixth grade at the Princeton Racquet Club and quickly found enjoyment in the sport, starting to play competitively two years later. Lin played in many tournaments before high school, but when he finally got to PHS, he did not make the team at all. “I thought I was going to make varsity [in my freshman year] because I thought I was that good,” he said. “I slacked off, didn’t play well, and eventually just got cut from the team.”
That did not stop him though. “[It was] a complete reality check for me … that really invigorated my tennis. I played a lot over that summer,” Lin said.
What kept him playing tennis was an interest in the uniqueness of the sport. Not only is the sport physical, but Lin also believes that the sport has a huge mental aspect to it as well. “You can beat someone that’s much better than you just by playing smart,” he said. “There’s not a specific way to winning. You can read so many different play styles. Each person [is] different.”
He tried out again in his sophomore year and came roaring back, making the varsity boys team and getting on the second team for doubles. In his junior year, he made it onto first doubles. “I had surprised the coach and everyone else that I could play this well,” he said.
Although Lin said that there is no specific way to win, not cracking under pressure is a factor that he believes is crucial to being able to win a match. “Obviously there [are] factors in how well you can hit and how consistent you are, but that won’t matter if you can’t think for yourself or if you start falling into the other player’s control.”
Lin also stressed the importance of meaningful training. “Outside of matches, you really want to hit a lot, but at the same time you can’t just mindlessly hit. You want to think about what you want to improve every time you hit,” he said. ”Sometimes I’ll just spend an hour, two hours, hitting volleys at the net, or sometimes I’ll practice hitting serves by myself.”
Once he made the tennis team, Lin’s performance kept improving—especially with the support of his teammates. “I think that it’s such a big part of tennis, that your teammates are able to rally you on,” he said. “If you start losing hope in yourself, you start playing badly. But if you know that there’s some people there, that will help you a lot. Like when I was playing [in the Mercer County Tournament], it was the third set of the finals, and it was really tight … I think my partner was starting to get frustrated because I was missing a lot of easy shots into the net, but it was really nice when all my teammates lined up against the side, just cheering me on.”
He and his partner, Andrew Wei ‘16, went on to win the set and the tournament.
Lin is not just supported by his teammates on the court, but also off. “A lot of my good friends are from the tennis team. They’re really important to me,” Lin said. “Especially the seniors who left last year … They taught me the ropes of what to do, and kept me calm—especially during the college decision process.”
After this season, Lin is unsure about his future in tennis. He has expressed interest in focusing on studies and less on sports by only partaking in intramural tennis, but he is also considering trying out for the tennis team at Carleton College.