Blue Squash has enjoyed a strong season since opening in November with a record of 9-8. Phyllis Lin ’18 is a crucial component of that success. A first- year from Acton, Mass., she earned an 12-4 record so far this season and played in the DIII Individual Championships. Lin recently spoke with The Wellesley News to discuss squash, her team and balancing athletics and academics at Wellesley.
Sravanti Tekumalla (S.T.): When did you start playing squash?
Phyllis Lin (P.L.): I started playing squash when I started high school freshman year. I think I started squash for the wrong reason: to get into a good college. But it worked out, and it’s been interesting so far.
S.T.: So what do you enjoy about squash?
P.L.: I feel like everyone can play the sport, regardless of your age, but depending on your age the way you play kind of differs. People who play who are seniors have all these trick shots, whereas the juniors, the younger people, run around a lot more so we don’t think as much.
S.T.: What do you enjoy about playing squash at Wellesley?
P.L.: I really like the team because they’re all really nice. They’re so welcoming, and I didn’t really expect that coming in.
S.T.: How do you think it differs from playing squash in high school?
P.L.: I went to a public high school, so there wasn’t really a team I could play on. I went to the club and played there. I had private lessons, so I guess you could say I felt lonely. But here, there’s a team to back me up, so that’s more fun.
S.T.: How do you think playing squash shaped your first year at Wellesley?
P.L.: I think it’s helped me integrate — no freshman 15, so that was helpful. In the beginning, it was a little tough, just because squash is in the morning and it’s really early. We have to wake up at 6 and practice starts at 6:30-7. That’s kind of what happened to me in high school and classes in general. That was rough, but I got used to it, which is good. Crew has it worse though, so I can’t complain.
S.T.: Shifting gears, what have you learned about being a student-athlete at Wellesley in terms of commitment and balance?
P.L.: Being an athlete was a lot a more than I thought it was. We also have to do conditioning and lifting afterward, and I kind of knew that, but I didn’t think it would take up that much time. I mean, I still have a lot of time to do homework, but it’s good to keep up with running and all that.
S.T.: What do you think has been the highlight of your season so far?
P.L.: I think playing all the team matches and everything. It used to be that the only match that mattered was the one I was playing, but now that I’m on a team, every single match matters, regardless of whether you’re at the bottom or the top of the ladder.
S.T.: So would you say that’s the highlight of playing with a team, then?
P.L.: Yeah, whenever we go out to matches, we’re on the bus, and it’s just fun!
S.T.: You played in the DIII Individual Championships. How was that?
P.L.: That was a really good experience. I’m glad I got to go. I think that afterward, it definitely helped with my squash game in general. What I liked most was that I didn’t just get to play the second player of each school. I didn’t know what rank they were, and it was a flashback to how I played in high school and how I played in tournaments.
S.T.: Did you do any training over Wintersession?
P.L.: Yeah, we came back a few weeks earlier than everyone else, and we trained, which was a lot of fun. Most of the squash team was in Bates, and a lot of us got a lot closer. It was fun to spend time with them outside of regular practice.
S.T.: Do you have any pre-match rituals?
P.L.: I don’t think so, because even on court, most people say I have a really blank expression, so I don’t show any expression. I think that’s good, but at the same time, if I’m winning, I don’t look happy! But yeah, nothing before or after.
S.T.: What are you looking forward to in future seasons? Do you have any personal goals for this season or next?
P.L.: Definitely improve my squash more. This might sound competitive, but it’s not, really: me and Sarah Zhang ’18, who’s the first — I’m the second — we’re really good friends, but my goal, I guess, is to improve and become number one. It’s more like friendly competition and less about actually being number one, but she’s a good number one and she holds the team together well.
Lin, along with the rest of Blue Squash, will participate in the Seven Sisters Championship, hosted by Wellesley, on Feb. 7.
Photo courtesy of Phyllis Lin ’18