As the classic confrontation unfolded, Albany High sophomore Allison Chuang kept focusing on what it would take to finally beat Pinole Valley's Stephanie Lin in the North Coast Section Division I singles final.
"Keep it deep, but don't really go for too much," Chuang said afterward of her strategy.
Mission accomplished. She overcame a 2-0 deficit in the third set and took a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Lin, the top seed and defending champion, at Diamond Hills Sports Club in Oakley.
Consequently, Chuang has been selected as Bay Area News Group's East Bay Girls Tennis Player of the Year.
Chuang, who strives for good depth on her groundstrokes, also beat Acalanes' Isabella Von Ebbe, Northgate's Ana Boeriu and Monte Vista's Kaitlyn Haithcock in straight sets at NCS.
Albany coach Sue Ford smiles when she discusses Chuang, the player and the person.
"I really enjoy Allison," Ford said of the No. 1 ranked 16s USTA singles player in Northern California. "She's very calm, and she has a good game-face, and she's very gracious."
Morgan Shepherd, who gives private tennis lessons to Lin and Chuang, shares Ford's enthusiasm.
"Allison had a remarkable year in terms of how much she's improved," Shepherd said. "She's a great girl. Every day she just comes out with a big smile and loves to play. She gets better every day. It's hard to stop someone that any time she's out there enjoys it immensely."
Chuang credits Shepherd with
Still, Chuang's upending Lin, who is ranked sixth in the 18s in Northern California, was a surprise. She'd lost to Lin twice during the season and in last year's NCS semifinals.
"I was the younger one, so I didn't really have the pressure," Chuang said. "Plus, she's been beating me, so with that match I just went in and I was just going to try and hit everything back and not have her make me miss."
Chuang, who wants to play NCAA Division I tennis, became Albany's first female section tennis champion. The Cougars' Andrew Gu accomplished the feat last spring.
High school play allows top juniors to branch out socially, something Chuang has really taken to.
"Her teammates really like her," Ford said. "She's very personable. ... I really think she enjoyed be on the team."