May 13, 2010

By Jarrod Rudolph
Special to

Great athletes are usually born with intangibles that most people can’t explain. They have the ability to find hope in a situation that seems hopeless. They often discover extra energy when their opponent is physically drained.

Seulki (Jenny) Chin is that presence for the Seasiders from BYU-Hawaii.

She has a mixture of talent, hard work ethic and extreme discipline. The dedication Chin shows towards being the best at her craft has pushed her team towards the national  championship that has eluded them for two years. BYU-Hawaii defeated Northwood (Mich.), 5-0, to advance to the semifinals of the Division II women’s tennis championships.

Armstrong Atlantic, Hawaii-Pacific and Lynn also advanced. The semifinals will be played Friday at 9 a.m. at Sanlando Park.
Chin is among the most feared players in NCAA Division II women’s tennis.

“I don’t know how to describe myself,” said a shy Chin. “I guess you could say I’m quick because I run around a lot.

The 23-year-old tennis star wasn’t always a great player. As a freshman it was clear that Chin was more talented than the average player. However, she needed to learn more about the fundamentals of the game in order to take advantage of her natural gifts.

“Jenny came in as a pretty talented player, but she had some things in her game that needed work,” BYU-Hawaii coach David Porter said. “She hits with two hands on both sides and her forehand is very strong; her backhand was not as strong. She volleyed well when at the net, but needed to work on her transition volley and her serve was acceptable."

“During the last three years she has spent a lot of time trying to shore up some of those areas so there wouldn’t be any real areas of vulnerability where player can attack; she’s done a good job of that,” he said. “In addition she’s also developed an ability to see the court, not just in singles, but also in doubles. Because of that she’s just a terrific player in doubles; with two different partners she won the IATA national doubles’ championship.”

For most people, the areas of required improvement would have seemed like too much to ask. Chin was asked to learn different ways to play a game she had enjoyed great success. But the discipline of her culture and the work ethic taught to her by a father made the job easy. Chin has been playing the game most of her life. With the help of her father – an experienced tennis player – Chin was made to understand the benefits of hard work and the necessity of discipline. These qualities have made Chin the most influential team leader the Seasiders have, a role that Chin accepts despite the pressure leading a team with great expectations comes with.

“I always feel like I have a responsibility to take care of my teammates,” Chin said. “Even though I’m only a player and not an assistant coach, I always like to help and take all of the pressure and stress on myself.”

Chin’s hard work paid off when she was named Division II Senior Player of the Year.  

“I didn’t even know I was getting it. Coach didn’t tell me,” Chin said.

Chin is using her court vision to look beyond tennis. After her upcoming graduation Chin – an avid lover of music and snowboarding – will continue her education back in her native South Korea where she plans on being a sports psychologist.

But that won’t happen until after she makes a run at a national championship.