Winston Lin, a Columbia University junior, is the first local collegiate tennis player to be ranked in the nation’s top 10 male players in NCAA Division I.
The 20-year-old East Amherst resident is the No. 8 player in Division I and the number one ranked player in the Northeast including teams such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, and Cornell.
Lin’s ascent to this ranking is not a surprise to followers of the game in Western New York. His father Lee is the person who should get the most credit for Winston’s success. Lee has virtually been Winston’s main coach for most of his playing years.
“When I first started working with Winston at the Miller Tennis Center I wasn’t sure how much he would like the game or how successful he would be,” Lee Lin said. “Within a short period of time it was evident that Winston loved the game and had some definite talent.”
Winston said, “My dad and mom have always been my biggest supporters. “My dad was always so patient when he was teaching me and would always talk to me about how I was doing.”
Locally, Winston dominated in all of the age groups. In the Eastern junior divisions he was ranked second in the 12, 14, and 16 & Under divisions, and No. 1 in the 18 & Under divisions; and as high as 25th nationally. Equally impressive, he was ranked 11th nationally as a senior recruit by tennisrecruiting.net.
He starred at Williamsville East High School, where he was an outstanding student and co-captain his sophomore junior, and senior years. He chose Columbia for college because of its outstanding reputation and its excellent men’s tennis team.
As a freshman he had a strong fall season, advancing to the semifinals of the Princeton/Farnsworth Invitational, a singles tournament. He also reached the semifinals of the USTA/ITA Invitational Doubles Championships with partner Nathaniel Gary.
In the spring of 2012 Lin had a 21-1 mark playing first singles and was chosen as the Ivy League Rookie of the Year as well as first team All-Ivy League. That fall he reached the semifinals of the A flights in both singles and doubles at the New York City Men’s Collegiate Invitational and the singles finals of the International Northeast Regional Championships.
By now, it was becoming evident that Columbia had a superstar on the horizon who would have an outstanding chance to pursue a professional career. In 2013 Lin surpassed all of his previous collegiate performances with a win over Princeton’s Matija Pecotic, the nation’s third-ranked collegiate player. He was once again selected to All-Ivy League first team and reached the round or 16 in the Saint Francis ITA All-America Championships, defeating players from Duke and Southern California. He then was defeated by Virginia’s Mitchell Frank, the eventual singles champion, ranked 15th at the time.
A back injury last spring forced him into rehab for three months. Once he was back into training he was on a six-day schedule. He would play 4-5 hours of tennis, mostly singles, and do at least an hour of fitness each day.
“Winston’s desire and will to win are unbelievable. In my 32 years at Columbia I have never had a player with such a work ethic,” said coach Bid Goswami. “At 5-5 in a set, it is almost a sure thing that he is going to win. His concentration and focus are second to none. He has a big heart and has been a delight to coach and an outstanding student (Lin carries a 3.7 GPA).
“His ground strokes are awesome. Doubles play has greatly helped his volleys. As far as making it on the pro tour I think he can eventually make it into the top 100 or higher, without a doubt. It’s up to Winston. With his mind set and talent I have no doubts that he will eventually become a great tennis pro.”
“Columbia has been a great school for me, both academically and tenniswise,” Lin said. “Coach Goswami and assistant coach Howard Endelman have been great and have really helped me with my tennis game.”
UB team scores upset
Last Saturday UB scored what is arguably the greatest tennis victory in its history by winning at Cornell, 4-3. Cornell was ranked 53rd in the country and had defeated UB 24 straight times.
The teams were tied at 3-3 but in the deciding match Pablo Alvarez, UB’s second singles player, defeated Cornell’s Jason Liu, 6-5, in the third set tiebreaker. The win moved UB up to a national ranking of 70.
“Words can’t express how proud I am of my team,” coach Lee Nickell said. “Our goal, win or lose, is to compete to the best of our ability, keep our composure, and swing for the fences.
“Not to be forgotten is the superb play of our doubles team of Sergio Arevallio and Jonathan Hannestad, who defeated Cornell’s team that had finished second in a regional doubles tournament. Fortunately, we competed like champions and we couldn’t be happier with the result.”