Athlete of the Month: Alina Yu


Andy Zhang

Alina Yu going in for the ball.

Leah Schulman, Staff Writer

Sophomore varsity tennis player Alina Yu was selected as September’s Athlete of the Month by her coaches at UHS. So far this season, her record is 25-5 and Yu is one of the team’s top players.


Yu has been playing tennis since the age of five. Before joining the UHS team, she competed for the one of the best U16 teams in Shanghai, China – specifically Xu Hui. After moving to Irvine last August, she started training with tennis, strength, and conditioning coaches. However, many of her playing improvements this year can be attributed to her coaches at UHS, who have had a big impact on her successes.


“My coaches at Uni give me advice and support me during matches,” Yu said. “At the beginning of the season, I was really afraid of letting people down by losing games which caused me to be too nervous most of the time…However, [my coaches helped me] become less nervous,”


Despite Yu’s success, the season has not been without challenges. The biggest obstacles Yu has faced as a player have been her physical injuries and nerves. Yu expressed that she has difficulty playing caused by hyperextension, which led to her tennis elbow—an injury that isn’t completely curable and tends to affect her serves and forehands.


“There’s nothing I can really do to completely cure my elbow…But I am doing therapies all the time with my strength conditioning coach and it does get a lot better every time I do the therapy,” said Yu.


Her coach also focuses on developing the strength in her arms, not just to gain power, but to gain muscle in order to protect her arm and body as a whole.


Yu, like many other athletes and performers, also struggles with pre-competition nerves. According to Yu, she faced a lot of anxiety while playing due to the way previous coaches reacted to her losses. Far from her past playing environments, the UHS tennis program offered a healthier perspective towards the sport. Yu has made tremendous progress in calming her nerves , which she attributes to the support of her teammates.


“I always thought tennis was just an individual sport, but at Uni, I really feel the team is encouraging and supporting me and making me feel confident,” Yu said. “It’s a great community. It’s like my family.”


Yu’s individual record of 25-5 represents only a fraction of her accomplishments this season. In addition to helping the tennis team defend their title as Pacific Coast League Champions, Yu also made monumental strides on the team playing doubles with senior Meleana Helu.


Yu’s future on the tennis team is incredibly bright, and she hopes to play in college. Tennis has been such a big part of her life for over a decade, and she is eager to continue dominating on the court.