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Will East senior shows prowess in Miller Center tourney

Winston Lin, an 18-year-old senior at Williamsville East, exhibited a dazzling display of tennis as he handily won the Miller Tennis Center Open Singles Championships last weekend.

Lin, who is ranked No. 1 in the East and 32nd nationally in the 18-under singles division, defeated Ken White, a Western New York and UB Hall of Famer, 6-3, 6-2, in the quarterfinals.

In the semifinals he defeated the area's present No. 1 player, Vusa Hove, the second singles player for the UB men's tennis team, 6-2, 6-4, in a match that was marked by long rallies and great coverage by both players. In the finals Lin defeated one of the area's top 10 players, Alex Parker, 6-4, 6-1. Lin was down 3-4 in the first set before he went on to win eight games in a row on his way to taking the match.

Lin, who stands 5-10 and weighs only 133 pounds, hit his serve and ground strokes with unbelievable power throughout the tournament. His power is generated by the tremendous wrist action that he generates, especially on his ground strokes. His mental toughness and focus are nonpareil. He seemingly lets nothing get in the way of his concentration.

His sportsmanship is outstanding and he was recently awarded the 18-under Sportsmanship Award by the Eastern Tennis Association.

Winston has had a phenomenal run during the past six months. Last Thanksgiving he finished second in a national open tournament in Albany. In January, he won a national Level 3 tournament in Dayton, Ohio.

In February, he won a sectional championship in Glen Cove, Long Island. In March, he finished fifth in a national open tournament in Cincinnati. In April, he continued his strong play by winning another sectional championship in Oceanside, Long Island. His next tournament will be in the sectionals in Syracuse starting on Friday.

Lin owes much of his success to his father, Li, who has been his coach since he was 7 years old.

"Winston had tried other sports but he really loved tennis," Li Lin said. "From the start he had unbelievable focus on the tennis ball, keeping the ball in play and using the right strokes. I also have to give credit to my wife, Karen, who is an excellent table tennis player and greatly helped Winston with his foot speed and movement on the court by playing table tennis with him."

Winston progressed quickly and started playing in some 10-under tournaments. His highlight was finishing seventh in the prestigious "Little Mo" 10-under tournament in Austin, Texas, when he was 10.

As Winston's court sense improved he started to really move the ball around the court. He and his dad would hit many balls in their practice sessions, going cross court and down the line.

When Winston was 13 they started to work on his volleys and overheads. For the next three years his game skyrocketed and at 16 he was a force to be reckoned with. Winston now plays or practices six days a week for an hour to an hour and a half, and works with weights twice a week.

When asked how it was having his dad as a coach, Winston said, "My dad is great. He always stays calm. Even though we work hard he always tries to make it fun. He always supports me, takes me to tournaments, and win or lose, he has never put pressure on me."

"I know some people feel that parents should not teach their children, regardless of the sport," Li Lin said. "However, I firmly believe that parents understand their children the best. They know their personalities and want them to do well. It is unconditional love. Even if Winston does something wrong we discuss it logically and we communicate very well."

Li is using his same teaching approach with his 12-year-old son, Connor, who is ranked No. 14 in the East in the 12-under division.

In addition to playing tennis, Winston is an outstanding pianist and has won many awards. He and his dad feel that being a musician greatly helps Winston him with his rhythm in his tennis matches.

Li Lin also credits Todd and Debbie Miller, the owners of Miller Tennis Center, for being supportive of Winston and contributing to his success.

In addition to his other talents, Winston is an outstanding student. He will attend Columbia University in the fall.

e-mail: thegreatgar@verizon.net