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Charlie Garfinkel: East Amherst’s Lin one of area’s best ever

For almost 30 years I have been writing about the leading male and female tennis players for the Buffalo News. During this time, no player, man or woman, has been asc unanimous a choice for the No. 1 ranking as Winston Lin, an East Amherst native.

As a Columbia University senior and No. 1 singles player he had an amazing year in 2015 and reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Tennis Championships, where he lost a heartbreaking three-set match. During the year he had twice reached a ranking of No. 8, a level never attained by any local collegiate tennis player over the last 30 years. In addition, he was All America in 2014 and 2015. Outside of Jimmy Arias and perhaps Bobby Banck, Lin is arguably the greatest homegrown WNY male tennis player in recent years.

Presently, Lin is on the Pro Futures tour. Since last summer he has played in Future tennis events in the Dominican Republic, Greece, Canada, China, Taiwan and the United States. He reached the quarterfinals or semifinals in 10 of the 25 tournaments that he competed in. That is a phenomenal accomplishment for any player on the tour, let alone a first-year player such as Lin.

He played at the Miller Tennis Center last summer in a Futures tournament and reached the semifinals, losing in a hard-fought three-setter. He impressed everyone with his great court coverage, outstanding groundstrokes and mental toughness.

Lin’s father, Lee, was his main coach throughout his early and high school years and is greatly responsible for much of the success that Lin has achieved.

Lin’s expertise isn’t a surprise to local followers of the game. He starred at Williamsville East High School for three years and was then the No. 1-ranked player in the Eastern 18 & Under Boys division.

“After my senior year in high school and during my first year at Columbia I was playing extremely well,” Lin said. “I started thinking that I would like to try to try playing tennis professionally. After a talk with my dad he was all for it. Fortunately, I have had pretty good success in the Futures tournaments and I hope to improve even further this year.”

However, Lin was realistic. He’s 5-foot-9 and played most of last year at 145 pounds. He feels that he lost some really close matches because he needed to get stronger, especially in three-set matches. At present he is working with weights and doing a lot more running, especially sprints. He feels that the aforementioned will make him a better athlete, that he will move faster, and he will be stronger in the close matches.

Win or lose, his mental toughness is what has made him such a strong competitor. “I try to keep the same composure and stick to my game plan during a match,” Lin said. “I know how I want points to go and usually have success executing my game plan.”

Clay is his favorite court surface. The courts are easier for him to move on and give him more time to catch up to shots that are more difficult to return on hard courts. It is a feature of his game that is very disconcerting to his opponents, especially when Lin can reach what looks like a sure winner for his opponent and he winds up winning the point for himself.

Lin states that traveling and time zone changes can be difficult.

“You must eat and sleep as well you can when you are away.“ Lin said. “You are also playing on courts that you have never played on before.”

To do really well in tournaments, especially those out of the United States, means that you have to get to the tournament a day or two early. He stresses that getting used to the courts as far as the bounce and speed of the ball are absolute necessities if you want to do well.

“The biggest difference between college and professional play is that you aren’t going to win as much as you did in college,” Lin said.

He stressed that he is playing against excellent players from all over the world. In college Lin would play singles and doubles in one day in most of his matches. On the Futures Tour you play every day and might have to play as many as five or six matches in one week. And, if you also play doubles the amount of court time is exceptionally high.

In addition to his dad, Lin gives a great deal of credit for his success to Bid Goswami and Howard Endelman, the head and assistant tennis coaches, respectively, at Columbia.

“Coach Goswami and Coach Endelman were always supportive and worked with me whenever I needed it.” Lin said. “I was very impressed with their professionalism and approach to tennis. Win or lose, they were great coaches to play for.”

Goswami had much praise for Lin. “Winston’s desire and will to win are unbelievable. In my many years at Columbia I have never seen a player with such a work ethic. As for how he will do in the pros I definitely think he can make it into the top 100 or even higher.”

Siembida signs letter to Loyola

Sydney Siembida of Williamsville recently signed a National Letter of Intent and has received an athletic scholarship to play Division I tennis at Loyola University in Maryland.