ALBANY -- Albany High sophomore Andrew Gu showed what dedication, good coaching and talent can produce at the North Coast Section Division I tennis tournament.
He swept to a second consecutive singles title, beating top-seeded Miguel Diaz of Castro Valley 6-2, 6-3 in the championship match on May 4.
"It's a long process," said Gu, who was seeded second. "It's kind of like the Olympics. You train for four years, and it when it arrives you give it your best shot. You give it all you've got."
Gu, who is ranked No. 47 nationally by TennisRecruiting.net in the Boys' Class of 2015, has been selected as the Bay Area News Group East Bay Player of the Year in boys tennis. He has also excelled against older opponents in the prestigious USTA 18s circuit, having won two recent tournaments.
"It feels great," said Gu, an El Cerrito resident. "I feel like my game is actually improving a lot and I'm starting to be with the big boys."
Gu is 5-foot-9, has big groundstrokes and is clutch under pressure. He sort of sneaked up on the NCS field last year as an unseeded freshman. This time he beat Miramonte's Luke Bohuslav 6-3, 6-3 in the semifinals after defeating Northgate's Ryan Nakagawa 6-3, 6-0, and American's Rupjit Singh 6-0, 6-0.
Gu's private coach, Morgan Shepherd, said he has taken a big step forward in USTA play.
"Last year, high school was sort of the defining achievement," Shepherd said. "He was playing OK, but wasn't playing great in the USTA for his level, and then he really emerged in high school, which gave him that confidence."
Gu credits Albany coach John Fry, Shepherd, and, mostly, his family with helping him improve on the court. His older sister, Amy, has been great with the pep talks through the years.
"If I didn't have a good streak, or I did not play well and I felt like quitting tennis, she was the one that brought me back up," Gu said of Amy. "She would tell me, 'Don't say that. You're a great tennis player.' She was a big supporter in my tennis career."
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