Chris Yao vs. The World


Leslie Shipp

Chris Yao ’19 holds his tennis racket on the Johnston tennis courts.

Cecilia Allemagne, Staff Writer

Senior Chris Yao leaves high school having had an extraordinary career. The B & W caught up with him to talk about being a National Merit Scholarship winner and one of the Top 10 Scholars in Iowa, getting accepted to Yale and qualifying for state tennis for the third time.


Cecilia: What led you to the decision to choose Yale over Duke?

Chris: So, I went to the open houses for both of them on the student days, and, when I got to Yale, at first, I was very intimidated, but, after maybe an hour, I felt very comfortable with the students and my hosts and their friends were very, very nice and welcoming. I just felt like I could definitely see myself going there. When I went to Duke, it felt kind of overwhelming, but I never really felt like I clicked with the population, and, I felt, out of place at Duke.

Cecilia: Alright, so, what work went into becoming a National Merit Scholar?

Chris: Most of it came throughout high school in my grades and recommendations and extracurriculars, I guess. Then I filled out the actual application that had like an essay or two.

Cecilia: Okay, how do you feel about winning the National Merit Scholarship?

Chris: It feels good. I didn’t really expect to win because I didn’t feel that my application was extraordinary, so I guess it was a very nice surprise.

Cecilia: Okay. So I believe it is your second year going to state tennis?

Chris: Third.

Cecilia: Third? Alright, so, how is that? What is that experience like?

Chris: It’s very nice to know that all the hard work I’ve put in has paid off. Tennis state is always a very fun experience, and I guess I’m just glad to experience it one last time.

Cecilia: Alright. You were interviewed by the Des Moines Register, and you said one of your favorite experiences of high school was tennis districts. Now, is that still your favorite, or would it have changed since then, and what did that experience do for you?

Chris: I’d still say that it’s probably one of the most enjoyable experiences because it was just very nice to feel like the Johnston community was behind me as I was playing. That year I had a doubles partner as opposed to by myself so it really felt like I had a lot of support, and that hasn’t really happened too much other than that, so it was a very nice experience.

Cecilia: What has that experience done for you? Do you feel like you’re better because of it?

Chris: I would say the most important thing that came out of that was a sense of belonging in the Johnston community that hadn’t really been there up until that point. So, yeah, I do feel like it has helped me.