SAN RAMON -- Mayson Xue started the season as the No. 2 player on the powerful Dougherty Valley High tennis team.
Xue finished as the North Coast Section Division I singles champion with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Jerod Mah of Terra Linda.
"It was one of the best feelings that I've ever had," Xue said of the section title. "It's a pretty big accomplishment."
For his efforts, Xue, a sophomore, has been named Bay Area News Group's East Bay Player of the Year in boys tennis.
"He worked really hard and within a few weeks something changed," Dougherty Valley coach Akshay Arora said of Xue's accelerated rise. "Mentally, he wanted to prove he was No. 1 on the team."
In the third week of the season, Xue and Mike Wang, also a first-team all-Diablo Foothill Athletic League selection, changed places on the Wildcats' singles ladder.
Xue started believing even more strongly in his forehand and became more consistent. Plus, he sharpened his mental game through extra conditioning, a key component of Arora's coaching philosophy.
"To be successful you've got to work hard and never give up," Xue said. "I want to thank my coach for helping me throughout the whole season. He's been a really big part of my tennis."
Xue and the Wildcats achieved historic heights this season. They won DFAL and NCS Division I team titles, and finished second in the CIF northern regional tournament.
The dedicated Xue trains once a week at Tompkins Tennis, based at Ohlone College, and has played at numerous locations.
In the NCS singles tournament, Xue, the No. 1 seed, beat Marco Barretto of Tamalpais, a former NCS Division II champion, 6-4, 6-3 in the semifinals. Xue defeated Alex Wong of Rancho Cotate 6-4, 6-1 in the quarterfinals after besting Nick Wright of Analy 6-3, 6-3 in the first round.
The NCS singles tournament was considered wide open with the absences of two-time defending champion Andrew Gu of Albany and San Ramon Valley star Alex Keyser, one of the country's top 16-year-olds.