Serving it up with Women’s Tennis Coach, Yep

Jehan Godrej

FOR THE QC

On Jul. 20, 2017, Kristen Yep was named Head Women’s Tennis Coach. The hiring of Yep is the latest development in the transformation of the Whittier College tennis program. Yep, a 16-year veteran of the game, is an outstanding addition to the coaching staff. 

Yep graduated from Concordia University, Irvine in 2012, where she majored in Exercise Sport Science with an emphasis on Rehabilitation. Yet, her story starts long before in an interesting setting. As a child Yep attended a summer camp that included swimming and tennis. There, a coach recognized the talent and ability Yep possessed. From that point on, she continued with the sport. “After that, I wanted to just keep playing tennis,” said Yep.

At age 11, Yep started to play junior tournaments in Southern California. Although starting at a later age than most kids, she thoroughly enjoyed the competition and decided to train five to six days per week. Four years later, Yep moved to China when she was 15, and there her tennis game started to grow. 

She promptly started playing on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Junior Circuit all over the world, in countries ranging from Japan and Singapore to Canada and Mexico. At one point in her junior career, Yep reached 720 in the world rankings. Yep’s experience competing on the ITF circuit as well as some small professional tournaments paved her way to playing tennis in college. 

Once back in the United States, Yep chose to play for Concordia University, Irvine. There, she made an immediate impact by leading her teammates to nationals as a first-year. That year, she finished ranked five in doubles and 35 in singles in the national rankings. Yep continued to be successful in tennis throughout her four years at Concordia. 

  Here,  Whittier College’s Head Women’ s  Tennis Coach Kristen Yep oberserves her players.

Here,  Whittier College’s Head Women’ s  Tennis Coach Kristen Yep oberserves her players.

After graduating, Yep took some time off and pursued a route in physical therapy, but eventually decided it was not her calling. Upon returning to tennis, Yep started to teach at a private club in Irvine for two years. During this time, she decided to join as the Assistant Men’s Tennis Coach at Whittier College, helping the then-coach Ben Belletto lead the men’s team to a program best: No. 17 in the nation during the 2014 season. 

When the opportunity opened up for Yep to be the Head Women’s Tennis coach here at Whittier College, she knew it was the right move to take the position and start a legacy here for the Poets. Coaching in college is something Yep is very passionate about. She loves the atmosphere of being on a team and coaching during a match. Directly impacting her players on court is what brings her the love for the game. “You’re living as a player, through your own players, and figuring out ways in which each person can grow their game individually, on and off the court. That’s the best part,” said Yep.

After some difficult years with the Women’s Tennis Team at Whittier College, which has seen the program hire three coaches in three years, Yep has made the message clear to her players that she is here to stay for a long time and rebuild the women’s program for the Poets. 

Both the Whittier College  Women’s and Men’s Tennis  teams compete in one of the toughest national conferences in Division III. The men’s conference features four nationally ranked teams, including three teams that receive positions in the top 10 in the nation. On the Women’s side, you have Pomona Pitzer, whose team is a top 15 team year in and year out, and Claremont Mudd Scripps (CMS), whose team currently No. 2 in the nation. With these competitive teams, Yep will have a big challenge ahead of her as she builds the Poets into a great contender.

Building up the current team as well as bringing some new players in the future can really create the winning culture and legacy that is important to Yep. In the next three to five years, she hopes to elevate the women’s program and create something special here at Whittier College. The future is bright for the Whittier College Women’s Tennis Team, and there could not be a better coach leading the charge.