The Lin Siblings

Hudson Lin and Ava Lin excel in squash


Photo credit: Hudson Lin

Hudson Lin and Ava Lin ready for squash practice.

The screech of sneakers on a hardwood floor and the echo of balls bouncing off of the walls are not uncommon sounds to hear within Parker’s gymnasiums. But, for two Parker siblings in particular, these same sounds mark a place in which they have found incredible success and recognition: the squash court.

Senior Hudson Lin and sophomore Ava Lin have had many achievements in the world of youth squash. This past April, H. Lin received the Spence Trophy from the Spirit of St. Louis Squash Foundation, crowning him the best junior squash player in the Midwest. Within the past year, A. Lin has been named the junior champion of various tournaments, came in fifth place at Nationals, and was named the mixed doubles national champion. Additionally, A. Lin captained Team USA for her age group against Team Canada in 2022. 

Next fall, H. Lin will attend Williams College as a squash commit. He began to contact various schools at the start of his junior year and visited a few campuses, including that of Williams College. Upon submitting his application, H. Lin was pretty confident about his chances of acceptance. “I knew, from what my coach told me, that I would get into the school,” he said.

Earlier this year, H. Lin founded the first-ever Parker Squash Club. Next year, the club will be led by A. Lin and sophomore JP Lazarre. H. Lin hopes to see the Parker Squash Club grow to include students of different grades all throughout the school. “In the coming years, you will see Chicago grow to become a powerhouse on the U.S. junior squash circuit, and I know that Parker students can be a part of this,” H. Lin said.

Before squash, the siblings got their racketsport start playing tennis. However, their father realized that the kids in the tournaments were making their own calls about the score and were refereeing their own matches, allowing for unfair plays and cheating. He pulled H. Lin out of the sport, and he started playing squash instead. Shortly after, Ava began to play squash as well, starting at age 6. 

Athletics Director John Flanigan of the University Club of Chicago coached both H. Lin and A. Lin when they first started playing squash. Right off the bat, they exhibited what Flanigan refers to as “coachable qualities,” such as showing joy during practices and the ability to apply instructions given to them, as well as understanding that it takes time to improve. “That’s not easy. There were sometimes tears and frustrations for them along the way,” Flanigan said. “Those tears along with the joy in playing shows passion.”

Currently, H. Lin and A. Lin practice squash at the University Club of Chicago. During the squash season, which goes from September to March, A. Lin practices for an average of 10 hours per week. 

Due to the lack of junior squash players, H. Lin is A. Lin’s primary training partner. However, H. Lin and A. Lin are a part of a small group of junior squash players who often train with each other. This group is close-knit, as they have group car rides and get team lunches together. “It’s a lot of fun, and I think it makes me look forward to training,” A. Lin said.

However, balancing the sport with other extracurriculars comes with challenges. On top of playing squash, A. Lin plays two instruments, two Parker sports, and paints. She noted that with all of these activities, her time can be “kind of hard to manage.”

H. Lin and A. Lin both agree that in the world of squash, it is important to move forward and remain focused after successes and missteps alike. “You have to stay calm. Like if you win one match, you can’t get too confident. If you lose one, you have to shake it off before your next match,” A. Lin said. Flanigan reflects a similar sentiment. “Athletes can’t control whether they win or lose a match. If they could, they’d never lose. What they can control is their emotions, but that’s often the hardest thing to control,” he said.

Looking towards the future, Flanigan sees both H. Lin and A. Lin going very far within the world of squash. “I believe that Hudson will continue to excel and see his game go up to an even higher level over the upcoming years,” Flanigan said. And as for A. Lin, Flanigan acknowledges that she has had numerous accomplishments and national recognition, although she may underestimate her full potential as a squash player. “This level of play comes with pressure. I hope that Ava will realize that the most important thing is to be true to herself and enjoy the ride,” Flanigan said.