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Dec 4, 2023

Yolanda Lin grew up in Sammamish, Wash., not so far from the University of Washington campus, but always believed she wanted to take her collegiate career farther from home. After visiting campus during high school, Lin ran with the strong feeling that she had – UW was the right place for her. 

She committed her junior year of high school – early by tennis standards – noting that the team dynamic and coaching staff were the main draws for her.

Four years later, Lin has grown immensely as a tennis player, but the team culture that initially drew her to Washington still stands. 

"This year's team – we get along so well on and off the court," Lin said. "It's really evident that we care about each other a lot and are always looking out for each other. Whether it's reminding each other to bring something to practice or on a trip, helping out with school, with tennis, with errands, anything. I think that translates well to on the court in competition because we know we all have each others' backs."

In the spirit of having each others' backs and supporting fellow Dawgs, Lin commented on one of her favorite memories in a Husky uniform – the win of a teammate. 

"Hikaru's win against Vanderbilt at ITA National Team Indoor Championships was really big," Lin said. "She clinched the match for us and she was down so far. We just had so much belief – that's what stood out to me – we were down and we were out, but no one on the team ever thought we were going to lose. We had so much belief in each other."


Lin noted that one of the many things that differs between college tennis and junior tennis is how much you play as a team at the collegiate level. She has learned more and more over the past four seasons just how important talking is, both on and off the court. 

Communication has helped Lin bring more energy on the sidelines and perform better in competition. 

"I've learned a lot about how to feed off other people's energy and how to bring energy to raise the level of the team," Lin said. "I hadn't realized before just how important playing together is – how much energy impacts my performance."

Having a close-knit group makes talking through on-court details less nerve-racking and more beneficial for improvement. With the level of respect each player on the team has for one another, feedback is welcomed and communication on the court is always encouraged. 

"I've learned from the coaches and from teammates how it is beneficial to talk through matches," Lin said. "I never really talked through things before coming to college because you just play by yourself. Being open and honest and saying, 'I feel bad on this shot' or 'I feel really good on this shot.' I used to just leave it at 'bad' or 'good' but now, getting into the nitty gritty, I feel like that has helped me improve a lot. I'm able to focus more on the details and be more open and honest about how I'm feeling while I play."


Lin, who is studying psychology at UW, has plans to continue to further her psychology career by becoming a practicing talk therapist. She plans to take a gap year after graduating in 2024 and then pursuing either a master's degree in social work to get licensed as a therapist, or going for her PhD and becoming a psychologist. 

Lin spent two years in the Foster School of Business before ultimately dedicating her time to studying the social sciences. 

"I wanted to do a job that was very meaningful to me and also in a space where I know I can help a lot of people," Lin said. "There are not a lot of people of color who work in therapy and a lot of people of color need therapy, so I wanted to be someone to work in that field and advance it forward in a positive way."


"Yolo is such a special person and teammate," said Head Coach Robin Stephenson, of Lin. "She is always looking for ways to uplift and help others in any way she can. This spreads far beyond our team and reaches deep into the community in many different ways. 

"She has grown so much on and off of the court and I am so proud of who she is and what she brings to the program everyday. As a senior this year, she is finding ways to be a leader and I know how much pride she takes in our team culture. She is pushing herself and her teammates and brings the energy everyday to practice. I'm excited to see what her senior year brings and what we are able to accomplish together!"


This year, the senior spent a good amount of time traveling, including trips to Italy, China and a foreign tour in Japan with her teammates. 

Lin was a part of the Purple Passport program earlier this summer – which took a group of UW student-athletes on a 10-day educational adventure to Rome, Italy. 

Her first trip to Europe, Lin enjoyed getting to explore the city but also getting to know student-athletes from other sports who she otherwise had not gotten the opportunity to spend much time with.

Climbing to the top of the Vatican to take in the breathtaking view was one of the highlights, Lin said, enjoying the history of the city alongside student-athletes from the gymnastics, soccer, golf and football teams. 


Lin has been very active on campus and in the community since her sophomore year of UW. She is involved with the United Students Against Sweatshops, an organization advocating for workers' rights on campus and in the greater Seattle area. 

The group is working to support Starbucks employees and fight back against union busting. 

"As an organization in solidarity with all oppressed people, in the past month, I have been active in speaking out against the genocide of the Palestinian people," Lin said. "I participated and made a speech at the nationwide walk-out for Palestine and spoke out against our local complicity in the genocide with weapons manufacturers and shipments."

Lin is passionate about making the world a better place through her and her organization's organizing and activism – and has been for the better part of her time at Washington.